NATO Is Met with Protests as Activsts Call for Peace

July 9th, 2023 - by Women Against NATO – Denmark

Despite Massive Repression
NATO Summit Is Met with Protests
Women Against NATO – Denmark

VILNIUS (July 8, 2023) — 12,000 soldiers and officers have been deployed to look after the NATO points when the 11-12 July will gather for a summit in Vilnius. Still, the impending meeting is met with protests.

When heads of state and government from NATO’s 31 member countries 11-12 July gathers for a summit in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, there will not be much elbow room for protests against the Western military alliance.

Germany’s Ministry of Defense has decided to send Patriot missiles to Lithuania to protect the summit. And Poland is sending special forces to take part in guarding the summit.

The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges Danes to stay away from Vilnius while the summit takes place: “before and after there will be major restrictions on the possibilities to move freely in the city, and air traffic will also be greatly affected. In large parts of the days 11-12 July, the airspace over Vilnius will be completely closed”, the ministry writes, among other things, on its website.

However, the Lithuanian police officers themselves will probably not participate in the total shutdown of Vilnius: they intend to use the summit to protest against low wages and poor working conditions.

Protests After All
But despite the massive shutdown around the summit, in the days leading up to the summit, peace activists will hold both online debates and protests in Brussels, which houses NATO’s headquarters.

On Saturday, July 8 and Sunday, July 9, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) and World BEYOND War are organizing a 24-hour “Peace Wave”, broadcasting live from peace demonstrations in Vilnius and around the world. Join Events by clicking on this link.

The campaign Global Women for Peace United against NATO and the Belgian peace movement Vrede have organized a number of activities from Thursday to Sunday this week – for example, online debate meetings about NATO in the global south and alternatives to NATO.

Among the participants in the many activities is Sophie Bolt from the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

– We gather from all over the world to debate alternatives to militarism and nuclear escalation. From Belarus to Lakenheath in Suffolk, more nuclear weapons are being deployed, and NATO’s bases are being upgraded with nuclear weapons. It is a serious escalation that contributes to a new arms race. We have a different vision and we take that message directly to NATO, says Sophie Bolt to Arbejderen.

Common Statement
Prior to the summit, the network Global Women for Peace United against NATO has collected signatures for a joint statement against NATO – for peace.

So far, 325 individuals and organizations from 36 countries have signed the statement.

– All opposition to NATO is welcome at a time when NATO opponents are shamed. Today, you cannot criticize NATO without being accused of doing the work of sinister dictators, says Lotte Rørtoft-Madsen to Arbejderen.

The declaration comes at a time when NATO has focused on how to get more women into the military alliance’s top posts.

– It is a tasteless attempt to clean up NATO as a war alliance by giving it a feminine touch. NATO is well aware that women have traditionally been strong opponents of war. NATO is trying to win the women over to NATO’s patriarchal wars, notes Lotte Rørtoft-Madsen.

At the same time, she warns against the innovation fund of one billion euros to strengthen research and development of military technologies, which the NATO summit is expected to establish.

– With the foundation, the boundaries between scientific and military research are blurred. It is a dangerous development, says Lotte Rørtoft-Madsen.

More Money for Rearmament
At the two-day summit, the heads of state and government of the military alliance are expected to make a number of far-reaching political decisions on rearmament.

– One of the main themes at the summit will be to strengthen our deterrence strategy and our defense. At the summit, we will adopt new regional plans – including military forces, exercises and capabilities. And we must have more forces at a higher level of readiness, supported by air and maritime capabilities. And we must also adopt a new rotation model for air and missile defense, says NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the summit.

During this year’s summit, NATO is setting up a so-called NATO Public Forum, which will try to “create a better understanding in the public” of NATO’s policies, goals and decisions”, according to NATO.

Perhaps NATO is well aware that it may become necessary for the population to understand the military alliance. In any case, NATO’s Secretary General clearly expects that the member states are ready to spend even more money on the military than they do today.

– I expect that the member states at the summit will agree on a more ambitious promise, that spending two percent of their gross domestic product on the Defense must be a minimum, not a ceiling, says Jens Stoltenberg.

The Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen already declared in March that she was ready to support a possible NATO demand to spend three percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) on the military.

The current NATO objective is that countries should spend two percent of their gross domestic product on the military today. With the just-concluded defense settlement – which allocates an extra 143 billion kroner to the military over the next ten years – Denmark will meet NATO’s two percent target by 2030 at the latest.

Ukraine is also on the agenda at the summit. Among other things, support for Ukraine will be increased with a multi-year aid package and strengthened political ties “as well as reaffirming that Ukraine’s rightful place is in NATO”, as Jens Stoltenberg puts it.

At the NATO summit last year, NATO decided to increase the proportion of soldiers on high alert from 40,000 to 300,000. In addition, NATO adopted a new strategic concept for the next ten years.

Protest turns violent at 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago.

When the NATO summit is over, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will meet with US President Joe Biden and the heads of state and government from Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland for the Nordic-American summit in Helsinki.

Among other things, the heads of state will discuss the war in Ukraine and follow up on the NATO summit in Vilnius.

At a time when the geopolitical situation is breaking up and there is war in Europe, it is important that we in the Nordics stand closely together with our allies. And here the USA is the most important. With Finland’s accession to NATO, the Nordic allies stand together as a strong partner for the United States. I look forward to the fact that we can discuss the many major challenges we face in a close circle, says Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen.