A joint commitment cannot wait.Wrong political choices are the seeds that brought the creation of non-democratic systems, autocratic powers, hyper-concentration of richness, energy-intensive and planet-destroying development model, lobbies and financial and economic powers capable of imposing their agenda and decisions on sovereign states and governments. Russia-Ukrainian war, like the other ongoing wars, is the product […]
The border is a non-place where time stands still and waiting is the only activity allowed. The movements and glances of the person waiting for the call of the border agent indicate whether he is a truck driver or another human species. The truck driver knows where to rest his eyes, what tone of voice to use, where to park his body while waiting. All the other human species is lost, turning and turning, wanting to know, asking questions, mistaking times, places and interlocutors. It is the non-place.
Our border crossing in Zahony, Hungary and Krop, Ukraine, took four and a half hours by the clock, for us it is like having lost consciousness and gone on a long journey elsewhere, lost and led back to the exit, without knowing and understanding why. In the end, we were stopped there, at the last checkpoint with no more obstacles in front of us, still waiting, and only the look and the kind voice of the last Ukrainian border agent inviting us to leave, that everything was all right and ‘thank you for the help you are giving to our country’ made us regain consciousness and we entered Ukraine.
A few metres and a long, endless queue of lorries runs to our left, in the lane going towards the border, where we came from. Containers, trailers, trucks full of grain, maize, soya, which would normally travel by sea destined for the African and European markets, but which, because of the war and despite the agreement reached with the mediation of the UN and Turkey allowing the departure of a limited number of cargo ships, have to be transported by road. These truckers with their cargo will take between three and five days to pass the five kilometres separating Ukraine from the European Union.
As chance would have it, the delivery of the van, a very good Fiat Ducato, to the FPU (Federation of Ukrainian Trade Unions) took place on 24 August, Ukraine’s national holiday of independence from the Soviet Union, with maximum alert throughout the country due to the risk of new Russian bombardments on Kyiv and other cities. In the region of Transcarpathia, where the city of Uzhorod, our destination, is located, six alarms were registered during the day, and when the sirens sound, life comes to a standstill, even though this region, far from the front line and on the border with the European Union, is considered a safe zone, a buffer zone, where internally displaced persons, logistics and others find refuge.
As we deliver our small load of humanitarian aid (1,5 tons of food and hygienics products) and the van to the Ukrainian union representatives, news arrives of the Russian missile that hit a train in Chaplyne, in the Dnipropetrovsk region, about three hundred kilometres from where we are, causing the death of some twenty civilians including five children. War is dirty and cursed it strikes innocent victims, taking their lives in an instant. There is no reason or right that holds, it is no longer possible to do justice to a lost life. And we still have not understood that the only way out is to make war impossible, by investing in education, democracy, human rights and not in weapons and nuclear deterrence.
Is it possible to talk about peace, coexistence, rights, negotiation while the Russian army bombs and destroys cities, occupies part of Ukraine, kills defenceless civilians and rapes women?
Yes, it is not only possible, it is essential to do so in order not to be dragged into this spiral of violence and hatred that war brings. It can be done if even the victim who is attacked, as is the case with our Ukrainian partners, our union colleagues, recognise our commitment, accept our solidarity and do not feel judged, but on the contrary, feel respected, and open up, making an effort, respecting our position even if it differs from theirs.
Our solidarity action, through our campaign in favour of the Ukrainian people, to which all the CGIL trade union network supported, as well as our participation in the #Stothewarnow campaign, promoted by a very broad coalition of Italian civil society networks and associations, acts concretely, providing material support to the displaced population, refugees and minors, orphans. At the same time, direct, physical, empathic relations create trust, mutual respect, physical presence, relationships, and fundamental conditions for discussing and confronting the drama of war, what to do and how to react to the violence, the call to arms, and how to get out of a situation where all seems lost and the only road remains the military one that “must lead to final victory” as the only solution.
Solidarity, commitment, sharing, even bitter confrontation, to build a relationship at the basis of which there is trust and mutual respect. And the path taken with our Ukrainian partners goes in that direction. We do not judge their choice to defend their territorial integrity by any means and drive out the Russian invader. Like them accept our position of not supporting a policy of rearmament and responding to war with war, because the way out must be political in the wake of international law, and if war does happen, answers and solutions must be found starting from the responsibilities, from the causes with the instruments of diplomacy, politics, international right.
It is a position that has nothing to do with indifference or equidistant between those who violate international law, attack and occupy another nation’s territory, and those who are attacked and victimised. But it is the position that we must be able to affirm and share in order to build a Europe and a World in peace and of peace.
A joint commitment cannot wait. War is the child not of anyone. Wrong political choices are the seeds that brought the creation of non-democratic systems, autocratic powers, hyper-concentration of richness, energy-intensive and planet-destroying development model, lobbies and financial and economic powers capable of imposing their agenda and decisions on sovereign states and governments. Russia-Ukrainian war, like the other ongoing wars, is the product of a global system no longer capable of guaranteeing ‘peace, security, and well-being’ (the purposes underlying the constitution of the United Nations Organisation) to humanity and the planet.
It is no coincidence that with the war in progress, the Ukrainian government and parliament are finding reasons to reform the labour code towards an ultra-liberal model, bringing the working week up to 60 hours, suspending collective agreements and minimum wages to allow free individual agreements, and communicating these decisions to the trade unions, strong in the knowledge that, with martial law in force and the war in progress, the reaction cannot go beyond a few declarations. The road taken is clear, to show to the EU that Ukraine will be a modern partner, disengaged from the ties of the past, with no more intermediate bodies and social representation except to provide a few services and a little subsidiarity.
So, here we have a common working ground that must be started as soon as possible, meeting, talking, knowing that in this phase we need to deal with existing contradictions and differences, even deep ones, united by a strong trust, mutual respect and universal values and principles. Together we have to build the alternative to wars, as to the savage exploitation of labour, the destruction of the planet, and the new forms of fascism, because only in this way can rights, democracy and peace be extended and consolidated.
Sergio Bassoli, CGIL