The Vienna European Assembly on the preparation of the Fourth European Social Forum
8 January 2006
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Various reports and comments on the Vienna European Preparatory Assembly and networks meeting are presented below (Jan. 4-8, 2006). Others will be added when received.

Attention: The content of the French and English files on the Vienna Assembly are different and complementary. When and if translations of reports are available, they will be added to the files.


Update Jan.30, 2006

Content

  • Report on the development of program.
  • Report of the anti-war network meeting.
  • Report of the working group on agriculture.
  • Report Palestine.
  • Report on Policies of Security and Repression.
  • Report of the women’s meeting (1).
  • Report on women’s network (2).
  • Report on the Charter of principles.
  • Report of the Environment group.
  • Report of the Enlargment group.
  • AL.I.S. “Technical” Report on the interpretation system

 Report and decisions from Vienna EPA on the development of program
for Athens ESF 4-7 May 2006

By Yannis Almpanis and Petros Constantinou

Yannis added a point on spaces to the reeport prepared by Petros

a. Until 4th of January 271 activities have been submitted to the workspace
for proposals (http;//workspace.fse-esf.org) by 100 organizations.154
proposals were attached to the 16 thematic areas decided at Istanbul EPA and
117 did not submitted to a specific area for reasons of omission or being
not wishing a particular area.

b. We continue to submit proposals for activities to the website. The
deadline is 20 of February. After 20/2 we start the process of voluntary
merging.

The Greek Program Group will present the map of proposals at the next EPA
which will take place on 2-5 March in Frankfurt Germany.

The European program group will meet on 2nd of April 12.00.
We will decide for facilitators for the merging process at next EPA. They
will help to bring in conduct participants who submitted activities on the
same thematic area and inform on possible transversalities. They will not
decide the mergers but make sure that participants get the picture of the
possibilities of cooperation between networks and organization who submitted
proposals of activities.

*The finalization of the program will take place in the Athens Meeting for
the Program on 1-3 of April.

*The Athens ESF can host around 400 meetings in rooms.

*A new website will help the process of merging. It is crucial to give the
possibility to more than one participant to put together a proposal.

*A new thematic area is added on Urban policies and the cities.

The meetings of networks in Austria started and propose set of activities.
We will continue this process and at the meeting of Program group on 4-5
March we will take into account their proposals.

So merging process will practically start from EPA meeting on 4-5 March in
Germany.

c. The proposal on events of Great visibility proposed by Greek Program
Group was based on the desire of Greek organisers to help mobilization for
ESF and giving visibility to common targets of struggle of the social
movements and the participants of Athens ESF.

Six events were proposed:

1. War, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine occupation, antiwar and anti-occupation
movement

2. Social and workers; resistances to neo-liberalism: the movements against
social exclusion,, precarious employment, privatizations and the
commercialization of public goods.

3. Immigrants and refugees against racist policies in Europe. Fighting for
legalisation, political asylum, equal rights.

4. Globalization, environment climate change and alternatives

5. Europe after the NO to the European Constitutional Treaty

6. Seven years after Seattle, the development and the prospects of the
movement.

Remarks and concerns have been expressed on the number (1 or 2 per day) and
on the character of the 6 proposals. We expect a detailed proposal from
Greek Organising Group for the next EPA( exact character, names of speakers
and so on).

Networks can also propose events of great visibility.

d. Assemblies will be organised in an effort to bring together participants
on each thematic area or for transversal approach of issues and also to
coordinate campaigns and help networking.

e. Proposals about specific thematic spaces should be submitted in the ESF mail list. They will be discussed in the next EPA.

f. It is possible to organize cultural activities and all these proposals
Should be also submitted to the workspace. Artistic creativity has the
possibility to be integral part of the program enriching the Athens ESF.

g. The Assembly of Social Movements will be discussed at the next EPA


 Report of the anti-war network meeting at Vienna, 6 Januray 2006

We had a very good meeting with a lot of anti war organizations from different countries: Poland, Germany, Greece, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Turkey, Austria, Cyprus, USA
We spoke about 6 points.
1. We are preparing for 18th of March demos. At third anniversary of the war on Iraq we want to have a global action day against occupation of Iraq with slogan of “END THE OCCUPATION OF IRAQ BRING THE TROOPS HOME NOW”. We will try to have big demos on 18th of March as we did on 15th of February 2003 all around Europe.
The other campaigns that are going on are

a. There are campaigns against military airbases of USA in Turkey, Germany, Ireland, Cyprus and other countries. We are aiming to close down all air military bases of USA.

b. USA anti war movement with the military families campaigns is growing. We support their struggle. They are very important for the anti war movement to win.

c. The occupation of Iraq is causing a lot of problems in Middle East. Thousand civil people died in Iraq. We are against the occupation and we want withdrawal of all troops now.

d. The USA with the support of European countries is putting a lot of pressure on Muslim people in Europe. Like 28 Pakistanis in Greece who were detained and tortured. We give our support to all Muslims in Europe and support Greek comrades’ demo on 21st of January 2006.

e. European government should give asylum right to American soldiers who do not want to be a part of war and occupation. We support their action of giving up the arms.

f. We should find a way to bring BUSH to justice for his humanity crimes. He has done a lot of war crime and should be judged for them.
2. We have had 51 seminar proposals on War and Peace Axis. But since the proposals are still coming we will do the merging at next EPA. We will ask people to put their seminars on list.

3. An event of great visibility at ESF in Athens will represent the anti war movement. We would like to invite people from USA and Iraq as well. We will try to build a big event.

4. We will have an anti war assembly like we did in all ESF. We will try to have it on Saturday morning in Athens. We will discuss 18th of March demos, our campaigns and future action.

5. We want to have a big and visible contingent at demo in Athens. We will discuss it at the anti war assembly.

6. We will have anti war cultural events. Theatre, concert, exhibitions in Athens.
Rod Musselman American Voices in Spain for Peace and Justice
Yildiz Onen Global Peace and Justice Coalition of Turkey


VIENNA-EPA JANUARY 2006

 Report of the Working Group on Agricultural Issues

Conclusions of the Working Group on Agricultural Issues, Food Sovereignty, Rights of Small and Medium size Farmers.

1. There was participation in the Working Group of 10 representatives, from 5 countries (Austria, Hungary, France and Turkey)

2. The discussion was about the problems, of the small and medium size farmers, considering the new CAP of the E.U., the policy of the WTO and the activities of the multinational companies in the agricultural sector. The problems are especially intense in countries with a large number of agricultural populations.

3. There was also discussion about the basic ideas of an alternative policy in Agriculture with the following main targets:

  • Sustainable agricultural development,
  • Healthy and safe foods,
  • Food Sovereignty,
  • Producers right of having their own seeds,
  • Auditing the activities of the multinational companies in agriculture,
  • Support policies for the family farming and the small-middle size farmers,
  • e.t.a.

4. Activities, which have been agreed to actualize during the ESF in Athens:

a) Organization of a Conference with international representation, about the “WTO negotiation on Agriculture, Free Trade Zones and Sustainable Development”

b) Organization of two Seminars about:

  • CAP and Food Sovereignty
  • GMO- Agricultural- Biodiversity
  • Organization the day before in Thessaly of a special event about the GMO’s from the Network of Thessaly.

5. Movement activities:

  • Supporting the netting of the organizations, who range themselves with an Alternative Agriculture considering the Declaration of Porto-Allegro,
  • Coordination of the activities with the international movement of Via Campesina and the CPE in Europe,
  • Participation in initiative actions against the policy of the WTO and the multinational companies in the agricultural field,
  • Participation of the agricultural organizations at the protest demonstration in Athens during the 4th ESF.

Vienna, 7/1/2006


 Vienna EPA. Palestine network meeting.

Palestine at the next ESF- Athens.

1- Palestine should have a visibility at the ESF: If there will be very few big events ( 3 or less), than include Palestine in the anti-war big event. If many events, Palestine should have a separate big event.

2- A palestinian “space” at the ESF for political and cultural activities, debates, tables for petitions, films projection, musical concert, contact with media etc...

3- A conference on “European sanctions campaign against israeli occupation” : political
economic and military sanctions. Which strategies to conduct the campaign and to implament the international resolutions.

4 - Many seminars and workshops can be registrated, and will follow the merging process.

5 - One final Assembly to make conclusions and to decide an action plan on Palestine at the european level.

The European coordination on Palestine, hosted by ECCP Brussels, is working to develop the detailed proposals about the organisation of all this. Next meeting of the ECP: february 4. Every organisation is invited to join the meeting. Contact Caroline : eccp skynet.be


 Report and Conclusions of the Network against the Policies of Security and against Repression

The basis for our discussion was the call for the Network, published in the ESF mailing list (June 30, 2005), as well as the call for a Big Event / Seminar (ESF mailing list Dec 31, 2005). The Network covers the issues of the 15th ESF thematic area (security policies and repression).
We had a rich and fruitful discussion about the Network’s proposals for the seminars at the Athens ESF. The Network proposes 4 seminars.
1. The first one will be a Big Seminar with the themes of the Security Policies and the Repression in Europe. We intend to invite speakers, who either are well-known throughout Europe or who represent the movement against these policies in a widely accepted position. We expect a lot of people (and eventually some repre sentatives of the mass media) attending this seminar. We hope that the speakers inform us not only about the contents of these policies and the relating repression but also about the reasons - politically, ideologically and culturally -. We also hope that we can enlarge with this seminar the interest for the aims of our Network in side and outside of the ESF frame.

We expect that the speakers (at least some of them) will refer to the relations of the security policies (and the repression) to the wars that the imperialists start in many parts of the world. We also hope that they refer to the repression of migrants and refugees, a repression which is closely related to the general (anti-)terror and re pression policies.

This seminar will be organized and supported by many groups and organizations. Co-organizers until now are groups from Greece, the Basque Country, Germany and England. But it is open for the co-organizing and supporting by other groups and people.

2. The second seminar will deal with the issues of the European (anti-) terror laws and agreements as well as with the Black Lists and their appliance in the different European countries, mainly the - politically and economically - strongest ones. These laws and agreements abolish the democratic rights in many ways. “Security over all” is the slogan. The so-called “war on terror” allows everything, even torture.

The Black Lists are lists of individuals and organizations, which the EU considers “terrorists”. The EU took these lists over from the US government. They contain over 400 names. Many of them concern organizations, which just support the fight for the liberation of terrorist regimes or against occupation.

3. The third seminar will be about the political trials and the political prisoners, about isolation and white torture. The big trial against the alleged supporters of the ETA in Madrid has begun; no one of them is accused for any “terrorist” action. We have the trial at the appeal court against the alleged members of the armed organisation of “17th November” going on in Athens.

Still there are some three thousand political prisoners in the Turkish and hundreds in the Spanish jails. Some members of former armed organizations in Germany, Italy and France are imprisoned more than 20 years.

4. The fourth seminar will give attention to the criminalization of migrant commu nities in Europe. Such criminalization has been strongly enforced after 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London. Migrants were detained in England for years without trial or even accusation. In Spain the authorities arrested people without any evidence, only because they were migrants from “suspect” countries. In Germany the state proceeds to the ban of further migrant organizations, which support the fight for the liberation of their countries from imperialism and for revo lution.

We will speak about the conditions of migrant groups from Muslim countries since they are targeted in a special way. They are considered as suspects just because of their origin. The USA kidnapped Muslims in many countries and flew them in countries, where the kidnapped were tortured. In Greece the British and the Greek Secret Service kidnapped 28 Pakistanis after the London bombings, interrogated them and released them only after many days in illegal detention.
Originally we had three seminar proposals. The idea was to discuss the themes of the seminars 2 and 3 in one seminar. But the participants of the Network mee­ting considered it necessary to divide this seminar because it would have been difficult to speak about the anti-terror legislation, the Black Lists and the political trials and prisoners in one seminar.
People from Euskadi, Spain, Austria, Germany, Turkey and Greece were attending our Net work meeting. It seems that there is more and more interest in the matters our Net work is dealing with. The CIA flights, the kidnapping of migrants without any accusation or even evidence, the detention of migrants in foreign countries, where they are tortured - all this seems to open the eyes of lots of people, who until recently thought that policies in Europe could be changed smoothly and without harshly criticizing the European states for their so-called “war on terror”.
(I’d like to add that in different European countries there are a lot of people we are in con tact with, who (at least until now) don’t want to take part in the ESF process. But they are interested in the matters our Network is engaged with. They support us in many ways, politically and practically. It seems that we’ll have useful discussions around our themes at the Athens ESF, discussions also with people, who are more interested in the work of the Autonomous Spaces. Since we are interested in cooperating with them we will make efforts to co-organize such debates in the frame of the Athens ESF.)
Contact: Achim Rollhaeuser, e-mail: ro-achim otenet.gr


 Report of women’s meeting in the preparatory assembly of Vienna 6-8 January 2006
of the European Social Forum


Introducers: Josette Rome Chastanet (Women World March, France, IFE) and Sonia Mitralia (Greek Committee for the organization of the Women’s Assembly)

In this meeting took part: 38 women from 12 countries (Catalonia, Italy, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Turkey, Great Britain, France, Holland, Hungary, Romania and Greece) and 28 organizations from all over Europe : FSG (Greece), Cidette (France), Rouge (France), Kokkino (Greece), No Vox (France), Sud Ptt (France), Hungary hoc.for « HEP » Association, Union Syndical Solidaires (France), DEA (Greece), Colletivo Bellaciao (Britain), Imece Women Solidarity (Turkey), Network Health Cobas (Italy), Romanian Social Forum (Romania), Intersindical Alternativa de Catalunya (Catalunya), COBAS (Italy), Wilf Europe (Germany), ASF fem Forum and KPO (Austria), Platki Women (Germany), Steiriche Friedens-Platform (Austria), Initiative of Homosexuals against oppression and Genoa Initiative 2001 (Greece), Social Forum (Turkey), Hungary Social Forum Association (Hungary), Abortion Rights, (Britain), National Assembly Agaist Racisme, (Britain), International Free Women’s Foundation, (Pays Bas), IFE EFI, (France), ADEDY (Greece), Women’s World March (Greece).
The meeting of women in Vienna’s Preparatory Assembly, reaffirmed that the attendance of movements for women’s rights during the 4th European Social Forum, will deal with :
A) The organization of an Assembly of Women in the frame of the 4th ESF in Athens

The Assembly of Women in the 4th ESF will constitute an autonomous space of discussion with the objective to allow the women of the European feminist movement speak and make our special oppression visible.

It should be the CLIMAX and the CENTRAL POINT of movements’ attendance for women’s rights within Forum’s framework.

The main task of the Assembly of Women will be to converge into a common place all different thematic tasks in the seminars and the laboratories that will take place during the ESF, concerning the elaborations of the area of the “Feminist Alternative Proposal” itself, as well as those of other countries that will present the dimension of women’s rights.

An invitation will be launched for collaboration and participation in the Assembly of Women, to all organizations and collectivities that will organize seminars and laboratories that will treat the specific gender dimension in their works.
Thus, the function of the Women’s Assembly will almost be the same with the one of the Social Movements’ Assembly.

B) A European Manifest will be adopted during the Women’s Assembly. It will include the proposals that will come up during the ESF by the workshops, the seminars and the laboratories of feminists and other social movements that are fighting for women’s rights.

A draft of the European Manifesto will be launched as soon as possible. The target of this manifest is:

1. To start a European process of discussion between us, henceforth, in order to integrate this manifest in the Assembly of Women during the 4th ESF.

2. To get acquainted with each other and develop relationships between networks for women’s rights and social movements and try to converge by an appeal that will analyze the main points of the specific attacks against women’s rights. The Manifest has to overcome our disagreements and unify us, it must underline some of our basic demands which could serve to develop campaigns of massive mobilizations with specific goals. Finally, the Manifest will probably have the function of an “Emergency Appeal” in order to organize certain unified mobilizations and the massive counter answer of women to the attacks launched, for example against the right to abort or against the reactionary politics like the “re-evangelization of Europe” so popular in Vatican, applied in some countries of the European Union (Poland, Ireland, Portugal...), against the comeback of slavery and extreme poverty of women, etc.
3. To make this manifest available to mixed organizations and networks in order to be taken into consideration in the elaboration of the strategy of the alter globalization movement, face to the new facts of Europe’s construction.

C) The organization of a women’s space

This space will be in a central place (not isolated from other movements) in order to unite stands and kiosks, it will be self-organized and will offer the possibility to show videos, organize exhibitions etc. It will serve as a meeting point.

D) The proposal for thematic seminars and workshops that will be useful in order to describe and analyze the problematic of women’s rights and to construct networks and campaigns.

The seminars and the workshops should take place before the Assembly of Women so that there will be an interaction between them.

Some of the seminars’ titles that have been proposed are: “Preparation of a european campaign against violence against women. The preparation of the mobilization for the 25th of November and the demand of a unique European law against violence due to gender”, «Women Rights, secular state, democracy and equality, feminists for a secular Europe. What kind of Democracy for another Europe? The role of feminism in politics, feminism and the question of power, women’s rights and feminist strategies in Eastern and Central Europe countries: threats and resistances”, « Which trade-union strategy for the fight against precarious employment of women? », «What does it mean nowadays to be a young woman?”, « Women and the Bolkestein Directive», « E.U and liberalization of European economies and the consequences for women’s lives and the equality of the sexes », « Women, asylum and immigrants : violence and coercive employment and trafficking », «Women, asylum and immigration”, «Which politics in Europe for the effective fight against women’s trafficking ? The role of civils’ society organizations », “The contribution of women in the resolution of conflicts, the maintenance and the construction of peace“,”Lessons taken from the action of various NGOs of different orientations like the feminine ` Friends 1325 ’ and examples taken from the functioning of directives CEDAW in the local and regional legislation“, “Immigrants, Gypsies and women of South in Europe: Poverty, precarious employment, exclusions, exploitation and discriminations”, “The fight for the defence and the extension of women’s rights to abort in Europe“,”Increasing attacks against the reproductive rights and their repercussions on the equality of two sexes".

You can be informed for the program, be connected, register or propose the seminars or your workshops in the electronic address:

http://workspace.fse-esf.org

E) The visibility of the Women Assembly. As we have already stressed, we demand that the Assembly of Women constitutes a main event of the entire ESF, and that it takes place in a central space of the Forum. Since the seminars and the workshops should take place before the Assembly of Women, therefore the Assembly should be organized either on Friday afternoon (17-20 hour) 5th of May 2006 or Saturday morning 6th of May 2006 (this will depend on the hour of the demonstration). We ask the support of the ESF and the Greek committee, so as, if it is possible, the Assembly of Women does not coincide with another big event organized at the same hour.
Finally, organizations and individuals can register to a European feminist mailing-list, after having been in touch with the following e-mail: soniamitralia gmail.com


 Report of women’s network meetings

This report is an addition to the notes circulated by
Josette Rome Chastanet (IFE) and Sonia Mitralias
(Greek Committee for the organization of the
Parliament of the women).

Key points of agreement and issues raised at the
Vienna EPA, 6th and 7th January 05

Prepared by Louise Hutchins, Abortion Rights, UK as
requested by the two women’s network meetings in
Vienna.

KEY POINTS OF AGREEMENT:

1. WOMEN’S ISSUES AND PARTICIPATION AT THE ATHENS ESF

  • The key issues affecting women must have a high
    profile throughout the Athens ESF.
  • The advances made at the London ESF on women’s equal
    representation on all ESF platforms must be maintained
    and built on for the Athens ESF.
  • The ‘feminist alternatives’ axis (including
    seminars, workshops, Assembly, Statement, and
    representation in other axes) should represent the
    full diversity of women’s experience including those
    of disabled women, lesbian and bisexual women, black
    women and poor women and should avoid excluding any
    section of women in Europe. The ESF should be used to
    discuss and debate key points of difference.
  • The Istanbul European Preparatory Assembly (EPA) had
    agreed that half of the solidarity fund should be used
    for women to attend and speak.

2. SEMINARS

  • It was re-iterated that seminars and workshops are
    autonomously organised by women’s organisations.
  • The deadline for submitting proposals for seminars
    and workshops is February 20th 05.
  • There will be room for approximately 150 seminars
    and 250 workshops in total at Athens.
  • The Women’s Network will encourage proposals from as
    many different groups as possible before the deadline.
  • The women’s network will circulate to the Network
    email list a list of seminars already submitted and
    will work to encourage groups to work together and to
    submit proposals on a full range of issues for women
    including:
    § migrant women
    § labour, poverty and precarity
    § women and war
    § violence against women
    § reproductive rights
    § women democracy and power
    § women’s experience and resistance
    § disabled women and disability rights
    § lesbian and bisexual women and opposition to
    homophobia
    § black women and opposition to racism
    § women and health
    § women and the family
    § women in the frontline of neo-liberal attacks
    § women and work.

3. PROMOTING WOMEN’S PERSPECTIVES THROUGHOUT THE ESF
AGENDA

Strong links between women’s issues and other axes of
the ESF are encouraged. Women’s groups are encouraged
to submit proposals that include women’s experience/
analysis/ contribution under ‘feminist alternatives’
axis where appropriate. Women’s groups are also
encouraged to submit their proposals under other main
axes of the ESF where appropriate to promote the
integration of women’s perspectives into those areas.
For example, one might submit a proposal for a session
on women’s role in peace and war as part of the
anti-war axis.

4. WOMEN’S ASSEMBLY

There will be a Women’s Assembly to provide a high
profile focal point for women’s issues at the ESF, to
bring together the outcomes of seminars and workshops,
and to produce a common Statement. The Assembly should
timed to follow most of the other women’s events and
to maximise involvement and profile at the ESF.

5. STATEMENT / MANIFESTO OF THE WOMEN’S ASSEMBLY

The Assembly will discuss and agree a common Statement
to bring to attention the key issues for women to the
rest of the ESF and anti-globalisation movement. The
statement will outline the key threats to women and
women’s key contributions. It will also set out a
common agenda for action. An initial open draft of a
Statement will be started soon in order to allow
maximum involvement from women’s groups who are
already participating in the ESF process and those who
are not. The Women’s Network will widely circulate in
invitation to participate in the drafting of the
statement. The draft will be finalised at the ESF in
Athens in order to reflect the outcomes of the women’s
events there.

6. HIGH PROFILE EVENTS

If high profile events to mark ESF priorities and
attract attendance are agreed, the list of topics
should include women’s liberation.

7. PHYSICAL SPACE FOR WOMEN

It was agreed that a space should be made available as
a point of contact for women and also for information
exchange and display. The space would not be
controlled by any one group.


 Report on the working Group on the Charter of principles of another Europe during the Vienna EPA-ESF

By Franco Russo

40 people took part in the working group on January 6th (from 4 to 6.45 pm), 18 of which intervened in the discussion, followed by a dialogue in order to reach the final decisions.
These points were stressed:

1. the elaboration and writing process should be an open one, in order to include the social actors, because a constituent process of the democratic Europe should involve large masses and their organizations;

2. the process should be transparent and each step should be decided in an open and democratic way, although the schedule should not ignore that the European elites want to re-launch the Constitutional Treaty and the social movements ought not to be found unprepared;

3. ‘our’ Europe is a common and open space, the borders of which are not the geographical or the so called ‘natural’ ones, but it is the result of the construction of a society built around the pacifist democratic, social, feminist, ecological, multicultural values which represent the content of the new citizenship;

4. the way through which we can build this kind of Europe is the civic integration, which is in clear contrast with the antidemocratic method followed by the governments during the 56 years of construction of EEC/EU, based on the market and on the capitalist economic relations, aggravated by the present neoliberal policies;

5. the Florence assembly was a good start, more progress should come from Athens, without deciding any deadline now, but by organizing some activities in order to deepen the elaboration and to make another step in the writing process;
6. the proposals agreed on in the working group are :
a) to prepare a text by using the reports and the related interventions, with some introductory notes to explain the intentions and the aims of the Charter, which can be discussed in the Frankfurt EPA (on Friday, March 3rd);

b) to organize a set of activities in Athens, also in cooperation with other networks, to present the accomplished work to the largest possible audience, to deepen with this audience the themes already covered in Florence, to discuss subjects ignored until now and subjects on which controversies exist among ourselves;
7. in particular, the following were suggested:

a) a first assembly (on Thursday morning, NB all the dates are tentative) in Athens, which could be divided, after a general presentation, in as many working groups as the sessions held in Florence, in order to inform people, to involve them, to deepen the results of the Florence assembly. The text, which will be prepared for Frankfurt (which of course will strictly follow the reports), will be very useful;
b) some seminars and c) ‘controversial tables’ (on Thursday afternoon )
sub b)

Some seminars on subjects which have not yet been discussed, or not thoroughly, such as, for example,
- the knowledge society, the capitalist integration of science and production (ITC, pharmaceutical industries, biotechnologies, and so on);

  • macroeconomic policies to fight against the neoliberal strategies (BCE, stability pact...);
  • the democratic management of the social commons to produce the public services in order to be granted universal rights ( and in general the question of how and what we should produce, and who decides what to produce);
  • poverty and exclusion in West and Eastern Europe;
  • the democratic life in the enterprises: the cooperative mood of production;
    sub c)

Some ‘controversial tables’ on issues for which we don’t have consensus, for example, :

  • terrorism/terrorisms: definitions, analyses, how to fight them;
  • the defense of the peoples’ rights : UN, the international law and so on;
  • self-determination and the human right of each single member of a community which aspires to self-determination; minorities in Europe and their rights to preserve their identities;
  • Europe: the civic integration in contrast with the integration - better the non-integration - through national States;
  • economic growth or alternative economy based on democratic management and ecological sustainability of the resources;
  • casualization, basic income, democratic rights of the workers ;
  • patriarchy, capitalism, equality, differences.
    8. a final assembly (on Friday or Saturday ) in order to assess the work done and to decide the next steps and initiatives.
    All the previous items are only first suggestions, which will be put in focus within the next days. The working group stressed the willingness to cooperate with other networks so to avoid repetitions and to strengthen seminars, tables and the two assemblies. Also, it was said that it would be very useful to give an important role to the Charter of Principles of another Europe in the Athens ESF.
    9 January 2006
    (ed. by Franco Russo)

 Report of the environment group at the European Preparatory Assembly in Vienna

by Jonathan Neale

We discussed four things: climate demonstrations, the esf program, the environmental impact of the esf itself, and an environmental village.

Climate demonstrations

There were demonstrations against climate change on December 3 in many countries around the world. In Europe there were demonstrations or rallies in Finland, Russia, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Italy, Norway, England and Scotland. There were 10,000 people in London, 4,000 in Turkey, and in most of the other places the demonstration may have been small, but it was the largest ever climate demonstration in that country, and the organizers were pleased.

The meeting agreed to support the idea of global demonstrations again this year, probably on Saturday 11 November 2006, the same time as the UN climate talks in Nairobi. We want to make the ESF in Athens a major focus for organizing these demonstrations.

Finally, we agreed on a European climate activists meeting to extend the organizing of demonstrations in Europe in November. This meeting will happen parallel to the next preparatory meeting of the esf, in Frankfurt, at 14.00 ? 18.00 on Saturday 4 March.

The ESF program and events

The main thing we saw in the program is that there are not yet nearly enough meetings proposed on environmental issues. There are a few meetings on climate. But nothing, or almost nothing, on water, air pollution, waste, biodiversity, forestry, nuclear power and many other issues. So we will try to contact all the organizations we can and encourage them to propose meetings. We cannot make more decisions about meetings until more are proposed.

To propose a meeting, all you have to do is go to the website, www.fse-esf.org, and follow the directions for first registering your organization and them proposing meetings. If you have several other organizations you want to propose a meeting with jointly, that is good. But if you are only one organization, and would like partners to work with, you can propose a meeting and the esf process will try to find you other organizations to put the meeting on with as partners.

For the big meeting organized by the Greeks on the environment there were two proposals. A majority of the meeting supported a meeting on the Environment, Globalisation and Resistance. A minority wanted a meeting only on Climate Change. We all agreed that we wanted a mass bicycle ride in protest at climate change as part of the event.

Finally, we agreed to support what looked like very good meetings proposed by the municipalities of two towns in Turkey, where the Ilusu dam and another dam will destroy the environment and many homes if they go ahead.

Environmental impact of the ESF

We are concerned about the environmental impact of the ESF itself. We want the Greek organizers to have an eye to this, to try to put on an event with the least possible environmental impact, and to report to the next EPA how they are accomplishing this.

But we agreed that the most important impact of the ESF would be many thousands of people flying to Athens and putting carbon into the air. There was a long discussion what to do about this. Finally we decided to recommend that anyone coming from 800 km or less away try to use bus, rail or ferry. For Athens itself this matters only in Greece, as other places are further away. But for future EPAs there may be many who could come in this way.

We will try to put information up on the website telling people how to come to Greece by road, rail and ferry, avoiding air, even if they are coming from further.

Environmental village

We wanted an environmental village at the ESF, where the environmental NGOs could all have stalls.


 REPORT OF THE ENLARGEMENT GROUP FOR THE EUROPEAN PREPARATORY ASSEMBLY
IN VIENNA

(Sent Jan. 20 by Loukia Kotronaki, Greek Social Forum, Network for Political and Social Rights)

1. Enlargement of the European Social Forum in Greece

Enlargement in Greece has reached a promising level. Among the members of the 4th ESF Greek Organizing Committee there are major trade-unionist organizations of both the private and public sector (GSEE and ADEDY), a number of major trade unions, the most well-known and reliable NGOs, various ecological and environmental organizations, as well as women’s, feminist and LGBT organizations (in the Prague and Istanbul EPAs we actually distributed the list of the Greek organizations that take part in the 4th ESF). However, in the last few months, due to the problem of defining the date of the 4th ESF, the enlargement campaign did not reach a satisfactory stage both at a social and regional level.

2. Enlargement in Roumania

According to the decisions taken in the Preparatory Assembly in Prague, a delegation from the Greek Organizing Committee held a meeting with the Initiative for the Romanian Social Forum, which was attended by comrades from Austria, Germany and Bulgaria. At this meeting there were ecological and non-governmental organizations, the union of the ROMEIRO workers (aircraft manufacturer company which is threatened with closure), as well as trade-unionists from various parts of Romania. Peter Damo informed the Organizing Committee in Vienna that a couple of coaches are going to come to Athens, with members of the Romanian Social Forum and delegations from the unions of ROMEIRO and the Company of Petrol Chemistry.

3. Enlargement in Bulgaria

According to the decisions taken in Prague, the Greek Organizing Committee held a meeting with the Bulgarian social organizations at the end of October. Unfortunately, due to practical reasons, not all the organizations mentioned in the European Social Forum could participate in the meeting in Sofia and there was no Bulgarian delegation in Vienna EPA. However, the Greek Organizing Committee is trying to expand its contacts with the Bulgarian comrades and, in all probability, there will have to be a new meeting in Sofia.

4. Enlargement in Russia

After the formation of the Russian Social Forum, in April 2005, in which 1200 people participated, there is a major interest for the 4th ESF in Russia. Boris Kagarlitsky informed the Greek Organizing Committee that 3 coaches of 70 people (from Ukraine as well) will come to Athens on 4-7 May, and there will be another meeting in Moscow about the 4th ESF, which will be attended by Cristophe Aguiton, the Greek Organizing Committee and anyone else who is interested.

5. Enlargement in Turkey

In Turkey, the enlargement of the 4th ESF is extremely promising. Hundreds of trade-unionists and members of the social movements are expected in Athens.

6. Enlargement in Cyprus

At the moment, we know for sure that 30 Greek-Cypriots and Turkish-Cypriots activists will participate in the 4th ESF, but we do not have any indication about the participation of great trade-unions from the two cypriot communities.

7. Enlargement in Palestine and Israel

Tens of people are expected from the West Bank as well as Gaza - representatives of movements, committees and NGOs. PLO will be represented by their leading members while various peace, anti-militarist and anti-occupational organizations and persons from Israel are going to participate in the 4th ESF.

8. Enlargement in Lebanon

At the moment, the participation of certain Lebanese NGOs in the 4th ESF has been ensured, but we believe that it is realistic to attract mass organizations with a broad political and cultural scope from Lebanon to the 4th ESF.

9. Enlargement in the countries of ex-Yugoslavia and Albania

In spite of the fact that in the European Preparatory Assembly in Prague we decided to carry out certain meetings for the enlargement of the 4th ESF in these countries, few things have been accomplished so far. We make an appeal to the organizations active in these countries and to our comrades from the Western and Eastern Europe that have relevant contacts, to contact the Greek Organizing Committee. Our aim is to hold meetings for the enlargement at the middle of February at the latest, in ex-Yugoslavia and Albania.

10. The proposal of the Austrian Social Forum and the issue of the participation of the movements from Eastern Europe in the 4th ESF

At the enlargement meeting held in Vienna, Leo Gabriel proposed a number of meetings for the enlargement of 4th ESF in Croatia-Slovenia, Poland-Hungary-Czech Republic-Slovakia and Ukraine-Russia-Belarus. This proposal was accepted in conjunction with Simo Endre’s proposal from Hungary for the need of having regional forum meetings in Eastern Europe. Matyas Beniyk’s proposal from Hungary for the creation of an Eastern-European Social Forum was not met with consensus, although everybody agreed that within the European Social Forum equality between activists from Eastern Europe and activists from Western Europe has not been achieved. At the enlargement meeting which also dealt with the improvement of participation of the Eastern Europeans in the 4th ESF, various proposals were accepted concerning seminars which will highlight the problems of Eastern Europe and will reinforce the networking process of the movements in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the creation of a special thematic space within the ESF that will show the problems of societies and the action of the movements in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans.

11. Communication with the opposition and resistace forces in Iraq

The participation of representatives from organizations and resistance movements in the 4th ESF is of vital importance. There have already been certain contacts and we believe that in Athens we shall have reprentative organizations and persons from Iraq.

12. The Solidarity Fund and the financial support of participants from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Turkey and Arabs who would like to participate in the 4th ESF

In the ESF budget, the Greek Organizing Committee has made provisions for the amount of 70,000 euros to this end. Up to now, only the Russian Social Forum has defined the expenses and the sum that will be needed from the Solidarity Fund. We make an appeal to all the organizations and forums in need of financial support to submit their proposals as soon as possible. In the enlargement meeting in Vienna, Mirek Prokes from Czech Republic submitted a proposal taking into account financial - as well as ecological - reasons that for distances less than 1,000 km from Athens, activists supported by the Solidarity Fund should exclusively travel by bus or by train. However, in order to ensure mass participation of activists from the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Middle East and in order for the Greek Organizing Committee to make ends meet, it would useful financially and beneficial for the trade union movement if the great Western European trade unions covered financially the travel costs of a certain number of trade unionists and activists from a Balkan or Eastern European country.

13. Problems regarding the granting of visa

Since certain Greek embassies, such as the Turkish embassy, grant a limited number of visas every day or they require special individual invitations, while other countries ask for a great amount of money at the borders as a “return guarantee”, we make an appeal to all the organizations in need of a visa to send as soon as possible to the Greek Organizing Committee all the necessary data and the necessary amount of money and, if it is possible, the lists of all those in need of a visa, so that we can make all the necessary arrangements.

The Enlargement Group of the Greek Organizing Committee for the 4th ESF

Additional note from Simo Endre

I would like to thank the correct and equilibrated Report on the
Enlargement situation, presented by our Greek Friends. I would like
just remember - may be it should be also included into the Report, or
annexed to it, as a very important document - the Russian Declaration
read by Alla Glynchikova during the meeting of the Enlargement Group
in Vienna on 5th January 2006 and repeated at the end of the EPA on
8th January on the request of Leo Gabriel: “We are organic part of the
European Social Movement”. I also remember, that the first decision we
have taken at the end of the Vienna’s EPA was to include and integrate
the Russian Social Forum into the ESF process.


 AL.I.S. technical report for the Vienna EPA

Introduction

At the EPA in Vienna 6-9/1/2006, the ALternative Interpretation System
(ALIS) group was responsible for providing and installing the
translation equipment. It was the first time that ALIS would cover such
an event and the first time that the equipment would be transferred by
airplane. Translation would be provided for the whole duration of the
assembly, including the group meetings.

The present document is a technical report, in which we describe that
particular application of the system, focusing on the problems we
encountered, and evaluating the results.

The experience

The ALIS system consists of two main subsystems. The first is the
*interpreters’ equipment*, which handles the transfer of the speakers’
and the interpreters’ voice “internally”, that is inside the
interpretation booths. The second is the *transmission equipment* that
transmits the interpreters’ voices to the public, using the FM band.
During the transportation of the equipment 1 interpreter’s console and 2
transmitters got damaged, eliminating our spare equipment which we were
carrying in case something went wrong. This experience led us to give
much more attention to packaging for the future transportations: in the
World Social Forum in Bamako, the ALIS equipment arrived with no damages
at all.

On the first day of the EPA, we installed the ALIS system in one room,
for translation from English to French and vice versa. A *limited*
version of the system was installed: One single transmitter was used
with one microphone attached directly to it. Regarding the quality of
the output, there was a lot of noise at the receivers. It turned out
that that was because the cable connecting the transmitter with the
microphone was defective; the problem was spotted and fixed, but only
after the meeting. Had we had more time to install the system in the
room, (the system was requested just when the meeting had started ) we
think that this problem would not appear.

Throughout the next day two rooms were using the ALIS equipment at the
same time. One room was using the “limited system” with one transmitter
and a microphone, and one was using the “full system” for 3 languages.
The system worked sufficiently, with quite good sound quality in the
small system, but much less than optimal in the full system. (The
reasons are explained further down).

The next day the big plenary meeting was covered. There was translation
in 5 languages. We faced two major problems.

First, there was a periodic distortion of the sound at the
interpreters’ consoles (similar to the sound you hear when you plug in a
speaker to an amplifier). This problem was becoming worse as time passed
and at 8:00 in the evening the interpretation could not go on and the
meeting stopped (which we have to say made the interpreters really
happy.) We are working with the industry that is manufacturing the
consoles to identify and eliminate this problem.

The second problem was again the low quality of the sound at the
receivers. The reasons for that are the following:

1.We had not calibrated the output of the interpreters’ consoles
correctly, to match the expected input of the transmitters. As a result
the voice on the receivers was very low and people had to increase the
volume of their radios, which introduced a lot of noise. This problem
was due to the last-day delivery of the interpreters’ consoles by the
local industry, which did not allow us to calibrate the consoles with
the transmitters properly. That said, it can be considered as “fixed by
now”.

2.A major problem turned out to be that the transmitters we used were
not the final ones. They were the (several) prototype transmitters we
built ourselves when we were developing the system. They did not have
the same power and the same characteristics. (i.e. the transmitter used
for the German language was of very low quality).

3.The placement of the antennas was not optimal. It was easy to discover
that people sitting further away from the antennas had much less
distortion on their radios. The placement of the antennas in the Forum
is an issue we are working very hard on.

On the last day of the assembly a plenary meeting took place. The setup
and the conditions were the same as the previous day. The meeting was at
one time interrupted for about 2 minutes because of noise introduced in
all radios. That happened because we used a defective transmitter for
one language, which at one point went astray. The problem was easily
fixed by restarting that transmitter. We were aware of that possible
problem with the specific transmitter from the beginning, but we
couldn’t use another transmitter since we had no spare ones.
The ALIS team is also working on the recording of the conferences.
However because we were busy supporting the interpretation system we
didn’t have the time to test the recording system.

Conclusions
Concluding, we would say that although in this first “official”
appearance the system worked sufficiently, in the sense that it provided
interpretation to the meetings and the plenaries, the quality results
were much lower than its actual capabilities. Main reasons for that were
1) the use of prototype, sub-optimal equipment and 2) poor initial
calibration. We are working hard in cooperation with our suppliers to
assure the best possible sound quality and stability for the final
equipment. After the Vienna experience, we are in fact quite optimistic
about the quality we will achieve, since we didn’t face any problem
regarding the main design and implementation aspects. We have already
had much better results in our use of the system in Bamako (report will
follow).

We have planned for a big test event on the 11th or 12th of February in Athens during which 3-4 rooms will be covered with 5-6 languages each for a duration of half a day. The results of that event will allow not only us, but also everyone interested, to draw solid conclusions about the capacity of the system.

Athens, Jan 27 2006,

For the ALternative Interpretation System working group,
Alexis Panagiotopoulos
Thanos Chrysos

Online 12 January 2006
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