NATO's existence was always defended by its founders on the grounds that it was a "defensive alliance" against "the Soviet threat". However, NATO was created in 1949 and the Warsaw Pact in 1955. Logically the demise of the Soviet Union and the disbanding of the Warsaw Pact should have led to NATO's dissolution. The opposite has happened. NATO is being strengthened, not disbanded. Contrary to its founding Washington Treaty, NATO has officially assumed the right to intervene militarily against anyone in any part of the world whenever it sees fit. This not only violates its own statutes, it openly challenges international law and NATO has usurped the authority of the international community – the United Nations Organisation and its Security Council.

The war against Yugoslavia in 1999, waged without a mandate from the UN Security Council in breach of the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions, is convincing proof of a new aggressive and interventionist strategy which for the first time since 1945 has brought aggressive war to Europe. The governments of the NATO countries, notably the USA, escalated tension and instigated a civil war aimed at breaking up Yugoslavia. They bear the essential responsibility for the Balkans tragedy. They are using the tribunal in the Hague to settle accounts with their opponents and with former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic.

Another major example is the Anglo-US attack on Afghanistan as part of the so-called "war against terrorism", led and supported by certain NATO states. The attack did not respect fundamental humanitarian principles or spare the civilian population, infrastructure and lives and the rights of prisoners of war. Nor did the change of the ruling elite that was imposed solve the Afghan people's basic problems.

The preparations for an attack on Iraq and efforts to bring about geopolitical changes in the Middle East as part of a new American strategy of preventive strikes are an attempt at expansion and the solution of US economic and political problems at the expense of other nations.

Decisively influenced by the USA, NATO is ever more clearly seen to be a military-political pact which is concerned with more than defence. It is becoming an instrument for expansion and consolidation of the influence of its biggest member states. NATO, as well as the Partnership for Peace, is a major instrument for pursuing US plans throughout the world and its influence and interests on the European continent. US hegemony in the pact's military composition is based on the privileged status and authority of the US leaders and US control of the armed forces, the military and security apparatus, the "defence" industry and the technology of member states linked to it. NATO's integrated military structures are beyond the control and at critical moments not subject to the consideration of national state bodies, especially in the European member states, and the UN. For these reasons we shall oppose the strategy of preventive strikes and the creation of NATO rapid reaction forces.

Nuclear weapons, whose use is contrary to the constitutions of individual countries and in practice subject to the decision-making and control of US military-political authorities, have been deployed at US and NATO military bases. This means that there is an increased danger of individual countries being dragged into military scenarios which are not subject to the consideration and control of legitimate national authorities. Under pressure from the US, there is thus a growing danger today that Europe and the world will be dragged into a new round of the arms race, exhausting not only the USA but also the other NATO states.

Human civilisation is threatened by the militarisation of international relations and militarisation of space in the same way as by the growing military interventionism which increasingly dominates US policy. As an instrument of the policy of US hegemony, NATO gives priority to the escalation of tension and the use of force instead of the peaceful solution of international disputes and civilised methods of overcoming the economic and social problems which are intensifying disputes throughout the contemporary world. NATO is not equal to the task of solving these problems politically, with the build-up of military forces and plans for their deployment being the focus of its activities.

To secure peace on its continent and the establishment of peaceful relations with other nations of the world, Europe does not need an aggressive alliance which undermines and in practice challenges the UN's role. NATO is unacceptable in its present form and the demand for its abolition is highly relevant today. We see suspension by European states of their membership of NATO's military structures as a realistic way of achieving this. It is vitally important for Europe and its states and nations to maintain an appropriate degree of sovereignty when taking decisions and to prevent them from being drawn into new military adventures. Europe needs a different security system from the one represented by NATO, defensive and non-aggressive, which on the basis of equal status and dignity includes all of the continent's states, from Portugal to Russia and the Caucasus, from Scandinavia to the Balkans. A system which would be based on the necessity not only of the existence but also the reform of the United Nations Organisation, so that it corresponds to the new reality of the world and creates effective structures for peace-keeping, conflict-prevention and conflict- resolution.

A system which fully respects the UN Charter and the spirit of the Helsinki process can stand up to pressure from the USA and the interests of other powers acting contrary to international law. It should be based on cooperation and the sovereignty of all nations and respect for peaceful relations and cooperation. We propose that this concept is implemented by using the experience of the OSCE.

Europe has always been one of the parts of the world most threatened by the arms race policy and the development of nuclear, chemical, biological and cosmic weapons of mass destruction. It bears its share of responsibility for gradual and balanced disarmament until these weapons are completely eliminated, beginning with the big powers, which will allow the huge resources wasted on military spending to be used to solve the great social, economic and environmental problems which beset the globe.

The aggressive NATO pact is incapable of becoming the foundation of Europewide security. The future lies in developing the process of economic and political integration of all the continent's countries on the basis of the equality and sovereignty of all and opposing any kind of rationale whereby wealthier countries or social groups dominate the others, and therefore on wholly different foundations from those of antisocial liberalism and Atlantic subordination.

On the occasion of the NATO summit meeting in Prague, at which it is expected that the Alliance will be enlarged to the east by the acceptance of new countries, the signatories of this appeal, who belong to various ideological trends but are united by their common desire for peace, call on all the nations of Europe and UN member states to unite and mobilise against the policy of war and armaments and for practical steps towards peace and justice throughout Europe and the whole world.