Friday

19th Aug 2022

Europe's citizens unite in a call for peace

While Europe’s leaders fail to resolve their stark differences over Iraq, the European public is becoming increasingly united in its opposition to war. The force of this opposition will culminate on Saturday, 15 February, when protestors gather in 354 cities around the world in a call for peace.

The event has been billed by anti-war groups as globally "the single largest day of protests in world history."

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The scale of the imminent demonstrations reflects the growing tide of public opinion from New York to Oslo, from Japan to Athens, that an alternative to war should be found.

Overwhelming opposition

Opinion surveys suggest that without a further UN resolution, most Europeans are overwhelming opposed to military action in Iraq, and many would remain unconvinced even with a second.

According to the BBC, an opinion poll this week in Germany, Europe’s biggest opponent to war, makes it look like many Germans believe that America is the main threat to world peace.

The Forsa poll shows that 57% of German citizens believe that "the US is a nation of warmongers."

Anti-American feeling is also strong among British citizens, despite the UK being US President George Bush’s biggest ally. An opinion poll in the Times newspaper this week found that 51% of those questioned saw UK Premier Tony Blair as a US poodle, even though 47% trusted him to do the right thing.

A resounding 86% want more time for weapons inspections, while only 25% thought enough evidence had been found to justify a war.

Unprecendented figures

A recent EOS gallup poll showed that even with UN support, many European citizens remain firmly opposed to war, with the figures being highest in Sweden, Greece and Germany.

The figures are higher than polls about previous US-led wars because this campaign is seen to be pre-emptive rather than in response to aggressive action by an "enemy", says the BBC.

Despite strong statements from Eastern European leaders, such as the Vilnius-10 declaration last week, public opinion in the region is even more hostile to war than in the west.

A Gallup international poll just a few days ago found that support, even if sanctioned by the UN, reached just 38% in Romania, 28% in Bulgaria and 20% in Estonia. An overwhelming majority in Turkey is also opposed to war.

Strong peace movement

European citizens are becoming increasingly concerned at the growing momentum for war that seems to be out of their control. London is expected to host one of the largest European demonstrations on Saturday. The Guardian predicts that up to one million protestors could gather in Hyde Park for the "Stop the War Coalition (SWTC)" rally, dwarfing anti-Vietnam opposition in the 1960s and the peace movement of the 1980s. More than 450 organisations and 11 political parties will lend their support to the event.

Tens of thousands are likely to take to the streets of Berlin, a reflection of the growing peace movement in Germany, says FT Deutschland. Brussels, Europe’s capital, will also be a focus for action, with demonstrators gathering at the city’s north station at 14.00 on Saturday.

Slovakia's government stares into the abyss

When a pro-western coalition swept to power in Slovak elections in 2020, many saw it as the start of a new era. Yet fast forward two-and-a-half years, and the four-party coalition is teetering on the brink of collapse.

Draghi's grip on power finally unravels

Italy looked set to lose its highly-respected prime minister Mario Draghi on Thursday, after his attempt to relaunch his grand coalition government ended with right-wing parties joining the populist Five Star Movement (M5S) in deserting him.

Italy back in chaos, as Draghi quits over 5-Star snub

Italy was plunged into fresh political turmoil on Thursday as prime minister Mario Draghi announced his resignation after a key ally within his grand coalition government boycotted a parliamentary vote.

MEP accused of 'disrespecting' female moderator

Some 100 representatives of civil society organisations, including Transparency International EU and Oxfam, accuse German Green MEP Reinhard Bütikofer of disrespecting a moderator because she was a woman of colour and want him reprimanded.

Column

Albania's post-communist dream has lessons for Ukraine

Comparisons between post-communist Albania and current-day Ukraine are fascinating — and make many pertinent parallels. Ukrainians have a similar determination to belong to "the rest of Europe" as Albanians.

Opinion

Finally, the victims of Utøya got a memorial

A legal battle between locals on the one hand and the state and the labour youth organisation on the other side postponed the inception of the memorial in remembrance of the victims of Anders Behring Breivik.

News in Brief

  1. China joins Russian military exercises in Vostok
  2. Ukraine nuclear plant damage would be 'suicide', says UN chief
  3. Denmark to invest €5.5bn in new warships
  4. German economy stagnates, finance ministry says
  5. Syria received stolen grain, says Ukraine envoy
  6. Truss still leads in next UK PM polling
  7. UN chief meets Zelensky and Erdogan over grain exports
  8. Fighting stalls ahead of UN visit, Ukraine says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  4. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis

Latest News

  1. European inflation hits 25-year high, driven by energy spike
  2. No breakthrough in EU-hosted Kosovo/Serbia talks
  3. Letter to the Editor: Rosatom responds on Zaporizhzhia
  4. Could the central Asian 'stan' states turn away from Moscow?
  5. Serbia expects difficult talks with Kosovo at EU meeting
  6. How scary is threat to Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant?
  7. Slovakia's government stares into the abyss
  8. Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us