ÖGB dismisses Ukraine “peace summit” in Vienna

2023-06-07 15:58:05

The ÖGB pulls the ripcord at the controversial Vienna “peace summit” for Ukraine. “We have decided to comply with the wishes of Ukraine and its embassy in Austria and have canceled the rental of all rooms in the ÖGB catamaran for the event ‘International Summit for Peace in Ukraine’ next weekend,” said an ÖGB spokesman Wednesday afternoons upon APA request. The organizers said they were now looking for other premises.

The information that one of the star guests of the event, the US economist Jeffrey Sachs, had appeared on the program of the Russian chief propagandist and warmonger Vladimir Soloviev had recently caused outrage. In addition, a demand for a Russian withdrawal from Ukraine is missing from a draft of the final declaration of the summit organized by left-wing NGOs. Rather, an immediate ceasefire is demanded, which can be interpreted as consent to the territorial gains of the aggressor, which were illegal under international law.

In the past few days, the Austrian Trade Union Confederation has received a large amount of different information about the event, its content and the invited guests, but is unfortunately not in a position to follow up all of these indications. “We have never interfered in the invitation policy and organization of this event and therefore cannot comment on it,” explained the spokesman, who at the same time emphasized that his organization has undoubtedly sided with the Ukrainian people since the beginning of the Russian war of aggression and had already transported an aid delivery to Ukraine in March 2022.

The ÖGB’s cancellation follows criticism from the Ukrainian ambassador Wassyl Chymynez, who described some of the announced participants of the event as “Russia’s fifth column”. “The present papers from the conference are clearly missing that a sustainable and comprehensive peace is only possible in accordance with international law and the liberation of all areas occupied by Russia,” Chymynez also told the APA on Monday.

“We are horrified and are currently trying to find an alternative location for the event,” commented Leo Gabriel, a spokesman for the event, on Wednesday afternoon to the APA of the ÖGB decision.

The ÖGB itself was publicly asked on Tuesday by activists around former skier Nicola Werdenigg to withdraw its space commitment to the event. With Attac Austria, one of the original organizers withdrew.

On Wednesday, the press club Concordia also refused to make its premises in a central location in Vienna’s city center available for a press conference of the “summit”. “It’s about the people announced at this conference and where else they appear, namely after February 24, 2022 in Kremlin propaganda media, where the mass murder of the Ukrainian civilian population is called for,” Concordia Secretary General Daniela Kraus justified the decision, no press conference of the events in their premises. Kraus was referring specifically to the US economist Sachs. According to “Gipfel” spokesman Gabriel, it was not yet clear on Wednesday whether he would come to Vienna in person or participate via video link.

Attac Austria had previously expressed questions about the content, which had declared via Twitter on Tuesday that it did not want to appear as a supporter of the event. In this context, the NGO had referred to the draft of the final declaration of the conference and stated in general that it condemned the Russian war of aggression and the denial of Ukraine’s right to exist and recognized the right of the Ukrainian people to self-defense. Attac did not want to criticize the draft itself on Wednesday. “I can’t give you any information about an unpublished document,” said spokesman David Walch on Wednesday afternoon when asked by APA.

A recent draft of a final declaration, made available by the organizers of the APA, clearly condemns the Russian war of aggression, underlines the humanitarian impact and calls for prosecution for war crimes. Similar to the announcement of the “peace summit”, however, there is also talk of this “illegal invasion” following Western plans and actions to expand NATO. The draft does not explicitly call for a withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine. The demand for an immediate ceasefire could be interpreted as an implicit approval of Russian territorial gains. “We are not setting out the contours of a final solution, as this must be left to the strength, courage and vision of the conflicting parties,” the text reads.

The event is organized by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) in Berlin, CODEPINK from the USA and the Action Alliance for Peace, Active Neutrality and Non-Violence (AbFaNG) in Austria. It was to take place on Saturday and Sunday in the premises of the ÖGB in Vienna-Leopoldstadt. The police were also preparing. There are currently no known threats against the event, the Vienna State Police Headquarters will monitor them with uniformed and civilian forces, a police spokesman said on Wednesday afternoon when asked by APA. “Of course, due to the political explosiveness, an operational concept has been developed in order to be able to react accordingly to any disruptive or protest actions,” he emphasized.

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