A Halo noviny interview with Martin Pêc, member of the Foreign Commission of the Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.

What’s your stance toward the recent firing on Syrian territory by the NATO trio of the U.S., France and Great Britain?

“My stance is obviously negative. Mr. Trump is apparently trying to fulfill his dream of supernatural dominance over the Near East, the gel-haired Macron’s popularity is dwindling – certainly he’d like to hoist the flag of French colonial glory atop a heap of dead bodies, May doesn’t know which way is up, and apparently she, too, would like to show her muscles, since she’s incapable of solving domestic problems. I sympathize with the American, as well as the French and British peoples, because having such representatives is a stab in the back and misfortune all in one. If humanity has an enemy, then after the attack on the sovereign state of Syria, we can safely name it. The policy of the NATO pact is one of dominance, aggression and neocolonialism. It has nothing in common either with peace or with justice. There can be dozens of such actions, but after ultimate victory, the will of the Syrian people will remain unbroken.”

Did your trade union also address the conflict?

“The first thing in the morning (Saturday, March 14, 2018—ed. note), class unions – i.e., the only class-oriented trade unions in the Czech Republic, OS CMS – expressed themselves in the spirit of the stance taken by the World Federation of Trade Unions. Their chairperson, Representative Stanislav Grospic, on behalf of himself and the trade coalition, emphatically rejected the whole criminal action of the trio of aggressors. Stanislav Grospic is the chair of the Interparliamentary Group of Friends of the Czech Republic – Syria, and he has fearlessly made his position of solidarity with Syria clear for a long time now.

“We immediately went over the situation by telephone with trade union chair Grospic, and with other friends and coworkers. But most importantly, I contacted my friends from the Syrian unions of the General Federation of Trade Unions, the head of the Near Eastern office of the World Federation of Trade Unions and the chair of the Confederation of Arabic trade leagues. Our declaration was soon published by the Syrian press agency SANA. Syrian television likewise expressed interest in our positions.”

What feeling do you get from your organization’s declaration and from the subsequent reactions?

“I’m glad we didn’t remain quiet. And that we supported the Syrian people at least with our expression of solidarity. Fortunately, we didn’t embarrass our nation with servility to the aggressors like Misters Stropnicky, Babis, Pospisil, and Petr Fiala.* I know their capital is probably Brussels, or Washington, or Tel Aviv. Maybe it’s time for them to head there. The declarations of the foreign minister and the foreign ministry were shameful. It’s a statement of baseness, wimpiness, and total spinelessness. We have no minister of an independent state, but a puppet of the great powers. That’s sad.

“But Syrians know that our nation isn’t personified by a few political figures. In no case do they underestimate our nation; Czechs are neither servile nor sheep. No discerning individual believes regime statements or lies any more. That’s a fact. They lied to us not just about Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, but first and foremost, they lied to us about the situation in our own country, which has long been parceled out by the oligarchy. We’re in the Third World and don’t realize it.”

Who’s responsible for the situation in Syria?

“Of course every thinking person sees that such wide-scale terrorism was spawned by the United States and its allies. Everybody already sees that Daesh** and other murderous groups are their work. And no thinking person takes seriously the cynical lie that the United States, Great Britain and France are fighting for human rights. They murder and enslave nations and support and sustain international terrorism. This group is an ordinary criminal gang.

“The Syrian nation has decided not only in favor of its legitimate government and for its head of state. But it has also decided, first and foremost, to live and die for its freedom and sovereignty. A victory in the Syrian question, and in other lands which have suffered and continue to suffer under fundamentalists and neocolonialists, is inevitable. Whether it pleases the pro-American coalition or not. You can shoot missiles at a sovereign foreign territory all you want but you still won’t prevent your own country from rotting from within. Everyone knows that these powers have lived and continue to live by robbing others and that today they are drowning in extreme social division, frustration over the future, and depravity.”

Why has the aggression against Syria come at this time?

“The pro-American coalition is afraid that its allies, Islamic terrorist groups, will be totally crushed. We find evidence of their support of terrorism daily. The only ones not speaking about it are the Czech media.”

So who’s the Czech media covering up for?

“Who? Those responsible for mass murder at the hands of the Islamic State and kindred groups, those who support terrorism, which is spreading to all corners of the globe, even to Europe. It’s the U.S., the EU, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and obviously Israel and Turkey. What kind of “rebels” are there in Syria? Mujahedin from a hundred different countries. That’s the reality.”

What are the positions of human rights activists?

“Our liberal human rights activists? Well, that’s a deceit! Where were they during previous wars? Where were they during the Turkish aggression, during the mass murder in Afrin? There was recently killing in Gaza, again today. Where are they? It’s just hypocrisy, a fifth column of the empire. They should walk the sewers. Or leave altogether.”

What’s your personal opinion of the Syrian president?

“President Assad is a son of his people, a worthy head of state, a charismatic politician and a real leader in difficult times. All these superlatives notwithstanding, he remains first and foremost one of millions of Syrian citizens, a friendly and cultivated individual. He’s not the president of the U.S., whom we might call a beast or murderer. He’s the leader of a sovereign country which we can envy. Let me repeat what I said last time in Damascus: President Assad isn’t merely a hero, but the Gamal Nasser of the 21st century, a modern leader of Arabs, a symbol of their unity. Also – and this is essential – he’s a great friend of us Czechs.”

What lesson can we learn from recent events?

“This aggression has shown us only one thing. If the Czech nation is to have any dignity, if Czechs are to be proud of their state, then they cannot be on the side of war criminals. On the matter of NATO membership, there can be no compromise. Czech dignity must be sought outside of membership in this pact. And our withdrawal is the path toward such dignity.”

*Editor’s note: The speaker is apparently making reference to Martin Stropnicky, the Czech minister of defense, Andrej Babis, Czech prime minister, Jiri Pospisil, a Czech politician and leader of TOP 09, a liberal-conservative political party in the the Czech Republic, and Petr Fiala, a Czech political and leader of the Civic Democratic Party since 2014.

**Editor’s note: Daesh is a reference to the Islamic State.

Martin Pêc took part in the International Trade Union Conference on Solidarity with Syrian People and Workers against Terrorism, Blockade and Imperial Intervention Policies in Damascus in September 2017. On that occasion, he personally met with President Bashar Assad. Pêc was also one of the delegates of the Brussels Forum on Solidarity with Cuba, Palestine and Syria in October of last year, and subsequently received the highest-level Syrian trade union delegation at the congress of the Trade Union Association of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia in Nymburk. At the invitation of the Syrian Trade Union Center, he visited Damascus to negotiate more intensive cooperation between the Czech Republic and Syria in the area of trade unions.