Committed and Colorful, 30,000 Join Madrid Protest Against NATO Summit

Thousands of people marched in Madrid on June 26 to protest the NATO summit. Photo: Countercurrents
Thousands of people marched in Madrid on June 26 to protest the NATO summit. Photo: Countercurrents

Encouraging and impressive was the demonstration of almost 30,000 peace activists from Madrid and Spain and supported by smaller delegations from many NATO countries.

The unanimous opinion was that NATO and the international militarization associated with it provoked the confrontation with Russia. That’s why the “No to NATO” chanted loudly and in different languages throughout downtown Madrid. This largest anti-NATO demonstration in a long time expressed a mood: we do not want to be silent about NATO expansion, about global NATO as a danger to peace, also and especially about of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which is contrary to international law.

Commitments to disarmament and international cooperation united the thousands of participants who marched through the streets of Madrid in the great heat. Left-wing National, European and international, radical left-wing groups were represented as well as peace organizations, women’s groups, solidarity organizations and environmental organizations, including Friday For Future, all with clear anti-militaristic statements.

Impressive was not only the number, but also the clear recognition that NATO and peace are not compatible and that a global peace cannot be achieved with a “global NATO” which now also prioritizes military containment of China.

It was clear to those committed to peace that the struggle to overcome/dissolve NATO is a long and great challenge and that many (even greater) actions are still necessary, certainly also in the “heart of the empire”, Washington.

The perspective and alternative to NATO was the focus of the Peace Summit and Counter Summit in Madrid, which took place on Friday and Saturday. We regret that political differences of the anti-NATO forces in Madrid were too deep to agree on a unified counter summit in Madrid. Unfortunately, two separate platforms were organized as counter summits although perspectives and alternatives to NATO have been the focus of each. The international dimension of both summits could have been more emphasized as well.

In the analysis of NATO’s role as a threat to peace, however, the commonalities outweighed the differences, although it will not a surprise to anyone that differences did emerge in the assessment of Russian policy. But the peace summit clearly rejected Russia’s intervention in Ukraine as an aggressive action in violation of international law.

The discussion on alternatives was also varied, with the policy of “common security” repeatedly being formulated as a unifying position worthy of support. At the well-attended event on this topic, the new Olof Palme Report by International Peace Bureau (IPB), World Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and International Olof Palme Center was welcomed as a good basis for developing also a new security architecture for Europe and beyond.

Disarmament for social and climate justice, for protection of environment and nature was demanded again and again, along with the worldwide engagement of women against war and militarism were convincingly presented.

An active, encouraging weekend, which also shows how much still lies ahead of us. It remains for all: first we struggle for a ceasefire and for negotiations for a peace solution in Ukraine.

The discussions of the weekend will continue on Monday at the annual meeting of the international network “No to war – no to NATO”, which will certainly focus on more, bigger, and still more internationally, more networked actions against the “global NATO”.

The necessary active role of the peace movement became clear at an impressive 24 hour global “peace wave” organized for the first time by the international peace movement (International Peace Bureau (IPB), World Beyond War (WBW), No to war – no to NATO (No to NATO) and Codepink). In 12 time zones, creative events, live music, performances, actions and much more – there were no limits to creativity – were developed by hundreds of activists and committed people and sent an impressive signal of a worldwide networked peace movement.

With this first contribution we would like to open a discussion about the peace actions of this weekend against the US Air Base Ramstein, against the G7 summit in Elmau, Germany (summit of the economic NATO) and the NATO summit in Madrid, in order to be able to organize even more actively the resistance against national and worldwide militarism.

Madrid, 27. June 2022

Kristine Karch, Germany, Co-Chair international network “No to war – No to NATO” (No to NATO); Campaign Stop Air Base Ramstein
Reiner Braun, Germany, International Pace Bureau (IPB), ICC No to NATO
Ludo De Brabander, Belgium, vrede vzw, ICC No to NATO
Joseph Gerson, USA, Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security (CPDCS), ICC No to NATO