NEWS

4th European Social Forum opens in Athens for four days of talks

Organizers of the the 4th European Social Forum that opens in Athens today at the Olympic basketball arena at Hellenikon (the old airport) are expecting up to tens of thousands of political, environmental, social and labor activists from all over Europe. As with the first three forums, held in Florence in 2002, Paris in 2003 and London in 2004, representatives of organizations working «against neo-liberal globalization, war, deregulation of labor, poverty, climatic change, environmental destruction, the violation of democratic rights, sexism, racism and the threat of the far right,» according to the program, will be meeting to exchange experiences and organize coordination and solidarity networks. «Another world is possible, where people are put before profit,» said an announcement by the international organizing committee. Celebrities such as the daughter of Che Guevara, Aleida, French unionist Jose Bove, Naomi Klein (author of the anti-corporate best seller «No Logo»), Fausto Bertinotti (the new speaker of the Italian lower house of Parliament) and French Communist Party chief Marie-Georges Buffet are expected to attend. At a press conference this week, Athens organizing officials representing the General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE), the Civil Servants’ Union (ADEDY) the Greek Social Forum, Genoa 2001, the Greek branch of Greenpeace and the World March of Women set out their objectives for the workshops to be held over the next four days. «We need to reconsider where we are, what we have in common and what model of development we want for a different kind of world,» said Nikos Haralambidis, of Greenpeace. According to Agence France-Presse, participants said the Athens Forum comes «at a time of golden opportunity to galvanize the forces of the Left – just after the center-left’s electoral victory in Italy, and the French government’s decision to abandon a controversial youth labor law in the face of student protests. But some of the protagonists note that Athens could be a good occasion to discuss tactics, and give the Forum’s energies a different focus.» Title’s of today’s workshops include: The European Union constitution; Preventing industrial accidents and pollution; Latin America: a continent in revolt; Criminalizing the poor: restricting liberties and rights by promoting repressive laws and politics in Europe; Relocation, collective bargaining, rights and democracy in the Balkans; Organic agriculture; Bursting the Brussels bubble: fight corporate power in the EU; and European politics in education and «others»: migrants, multiculturalism and cooperation with developing countries. For the full program including film screenings, exhibitions and concerts, see the Forum’s website at athens.fse-esf.org or call +30-210.528.8022.