It might seem far-fetched to compare Eastern Europe with Latin America, but for British workers two opposite routes are shown. Which way will we go? See Latin America article
The EU, Ukraine – and Latin America...
WORKERS, FEB 2006 ISSUE
What have recent events in Ukraine got to do with us as British workers? They are the latest in a long line of interventions and subversions of Eastern European countries to make them bend to the will of the US and EU. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Austria and Finland no longer felt their "neutrality" mattered any more and joined the EU though not NATO. There then followed a pattern of events across the countries of the former socialist bloc designed to incorporate them into what is increasingly looking like a Free Trade Area of Europe.
First, in went the non-governmental organisations, the NGOs, almost always funded by the US or the EU. Their mission was to set up new political parties and teach them how to campaign to win elections, or to create new trade unions "compatible" with a market economy, that is, anticommunist, or to create "civil society" (a controllable opposition), or to advise on market reforms and privatisation. Their job was to create the institutions of capitalism and ensure there could be no prospect of any kind of working class power.
Next, they were incorporated into NATO. Given that the Cold War had ended, why would they want to join NATO? Presumably to tie them in tightly to the US, to fight US wars in places like Iraq, Afghanistan or Yugoslavia, and to extend US military influence and bases eastwards towards Russia.
Thick as thieves: Oleh Rybachuk, Ukrainian vice-prime minister and Javier Solana, EU foreign affairs supremo, meeting on 13 June 2005 Photo: Council of Europe
Finally, they would be incorporated into the EU which would exploit the new markets and whose capitalists, along with those from the US, would take over their industries and services. They would be welded in with a constitution designed to let the free marketeers completely off the leash and to outlaw socialism. Their capitals would be reduced to being venues for British stag nights while their workers would become nomadic migrants, depressing wage rates as they hunt for work across Europe, under the guise of "free movement of labour".
Ukraine is simply the latest battlefield for this process. The so-called "Orange revolution" of 2004 was possible only because of massive funding to the NGOs from the US, Britain and other EU sources. Foreign governments and business funded those forces that would deliver the Ukraine to the capitalism of the EU and US. The following are just a tiny handful of the partners, that is, bankrollers, declared by Ukrainian NGOs:
USAID on behalf of the US government; the World Bank; Freedom House (which advocates free market economies); the Canadian, US and British embassies; the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (which advocates European Unification); the Michigan-based Charles Stewart Mott Foundation (with declared assets of over $2 billion); the Counterpart Alliance in Belarus and Ukraine (Washington-based and funded by USAID); and the International Develop-ment Law Institute (funding sources include Coca Cola and the Microsoft Foundation).
So this is how the "Orange revolution" was funded. And the next step is to get Ukraine into NATO and then into the EU. The US is insisting that Turkey become a member of the EU along with Georgia, because the US sees control of the Black Sea as essential for access to the Middle East and the energy reserves of Central Asia. Belarus is another target for the destabilisation campaign, but is Russia itself the target? Is this why Russia, quite justifiably, clamped down recently on those same NGOs operating in its territory?
British workers and the EU
So what do British workers and their unions do or say about the EU? There are still those who argue that our place is at the heart of Europe, that EU law is better than British law, that the Euro will make our holidays easier. Then there are those who argue curiously that the EU is a counterbalance to US power. Thompson's Solicitors, the biggest trade union law firm, sent out a newsletter to unions last year advocating the EU constitution. British unions have actively taken part in "democracy building" in Russia and Eastern Europe (and now Iraq). They are funded by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the British government body set up to establish the institutions of capitalism in wayward countries, and directly by the British government through the Department for International Development. Let's imagine the reaction of a British government or British unions if, say, Venezuela funded an imaginary British NGO to use Cuban trade union trainers to come to Britain to teach British union reps how to establish socialism or the "dictatorship of the proletariat"? It would be seen as subversion and interference in the internal affairs of both Britain and British unions. Why then do our unions continue to do this?
See Latin America article