Over two days, June 7th and 8th, thousands of activists and leaders of social movements and trade unions, including a thousand from 22 different countries, came together to proclaim the "Athens Manifesto" and to enhance the convergence of their local, national and European struggles to end austerity and claim a true democracy.
Under the particularly difficult conditions imposed upon the Greek people and social movements, this first Alter Summit sent a strong message of international solidarity with their struggles and allowed the European social movement to take an important step forward.
The Athens Manifesto was prepared over a period of six months by the 189 member organisations of alter Summit, a network that includes feminist movements, environmentalists, anti-globalization movements, many local solidarity groups, precarious workers and ‘indignado’/occupy movements, networks of critical intellectuals and a large number of national and European trade unions.
This Manifesto marks a significant first in two ways. For the first time, it presents a broad platform for trade unions and social movements with a short list of common and urgent demands on which they have decided to focus their struggles. Furthermore, it is the first time a major European gathering has been convened not to write a text, but to define strategies for actions and for genuine change in the balance of power, based on a consensus already accepted. This Manifesto underscores the existence of alternatives to build a social, ecological, feminist and democratic Europe.
Many important organisations including large trade unions, social movements, precarious workers, women’s and migrants’ networks etc. sent messages in support of the manifesto. The Austrian Socialist MP Sonia Ablinger, the Green MEP Philippe Lamberts, and Alexis Tsipras president of Syriza and vice-president of European Left party also declared their support for the Alter Summit.
After the proclamation of the Manifesto, 15 working groups developed a program on the convergence of struggles, strengthening and expansion of the network and the organization of joint actions. The next step is, for member-organizations of the network to examine these proposals and decide which ones will be shared priorities. Prominent among them are actions at the European level against austerity and the "Fiscal Pact", the policies and mandate of the ECB, the gradual privatization of public health care service, the rise of both a new populist and neo-nazist Right. There also will be discussed on proposals how the European networks of solidarity with the victims of austerity can be enhanced. And of course urgent reactions after the dramatic closure of the public radio and television company …
The tragic situation caused by austerity measures in Greece shows that another Europe is urgently needed. The success of the Athens Alter Summit meeting shows that another Europe is possible. Changing the balance of power will require a joint analysis (expressed by the Manifesto) and the convergence of local national and European struggles.