“We have decided to comply with the wishes of Ukraine and its embassy in Austria and have decided to rent all the rooms in the ÖGB-Catamaran canceled for the event ‘International Summit for Peace in Ukraine’ next weekend”, explained a ÖGB-Speakers on Wednesday afternoons on request. The organizers said they were now looking for other premises.
Outrage over star guest
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.
Organizers are appalled
The cancellation of ÖGB follows criticism from the Ukrainian ambassador Vasyl Chymynets, who described some of the announced participants of the event as “Russia’s fifth column”. “The present papers from the conference are clearly missing the fact 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 said on Monday.
“We are appalled and in the process of finding an alternative venue for the event,” commented Leo Gabriel, a spokesperson for the event ÖGB-Decision on Wednesday afternoon. Trade unionist Wilfried Leisch described the cancellation as “outrageous”. “Anyone who is not looking for peace or does not even allow peace-seeking at a conference in neutral Austria and cancels a hall that has been promised for a long time 2 days before the start of the event is trampling on all democratic rules and their own statutes,” said the representative of the “trade unionists: inside against nuclear energy and war” in an e-mail to the ÖGB.
Some of the organizers also withdrew
The ÖGB himself was publicly asked by activists around the former skier Nicola Werdenigg on Tuesday to withdraw his room commitment to the event. With Attac Austria, one of the original organizers withdrew.
On Wednesday, the Concordia press club also refused to make its premises in a central location in downtown Vienna 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. However, another event with Sachs in Vienna-Favoriten was announced for Monday, a lecture moderated by political scientist Heinz Gärtner entitled “Path to Peace in Ukraine”.
criticism of the final declaration
Attac Austria had already asked questions about the content, which had declared via Twitter on Tuesday that they 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 cannot give you any information about an unpublished document,” said spokesman David Walch on Wednesday afternoon.
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.
Police developed operational concept
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 should be held on Saturday and Sunday in the premises of the ÖGB take place 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. “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.