About a month ago, the Municipal Council of Thessaloniki, in its regular meeting, took an important – among others – decision. That of supporting the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). It adopted the call of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN – Peace Nobel Prize 2017), as did 46 other municipalities in Greece and over 350 around the world, and called on the Greek Government to sign and ratify the TPNW, as 66 countries have already done (and 85 more are expected to do so soon).
ICAN’s appeal in Greece is being promoted through the #SaveTheCity campaign of World Without Wars and Violence (ICAN’s international partner and representative in Greece) and has already been addressed to all municipalities in the country, while it is also supported by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW – Nobel Peace Prize 1985). In Thessaloniki, we are particularly happy that the appeal was supported by the councilor Michalis Tremopoulos of “Ecology-Solidarity” with his proposal as well.
The participation of Thessaloniki in this effort is particularly important, as it is the second largest municipality in Greece in terms of population (320.000 population), while together with the municipalities of Ampelokipon – Menemeni and Kordelio – Evosmos, which have also adopted the appeal, they represent more than 500,000 residents of the wider Thessaloniki area. Currently, Greece ranks 7th in the number of municipalities among the countries promoting the campaign.
Unfortunately, Greece has not yet signed and ratified the TPNW, and did not attend as an observer country the 1st High-Level Meeting of the States Parties to the TPNW (Vienna, 21-23/6) (1), while at the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Summit (NPT, 1-26/8, New York) it did not sign the joint text of 145 States on the humanitarian effects of nuclear weapons (2). It should be recalled that Greece has not officially hosted nuclear weapons on its territory since 2001, but recently the military base at Araxos was upgraded to accommodate 12 airborne nuclear warheads.
Local government can play an important role in the international effort to eliminate nuclear weapons and the threats they pose to people and all life on the planet. It is extremely important that municipalities participate in the ICAN and the CFSP campaign, in order to increase the pressure for the signature and ratification of the NPT by Greece, as Austria, Ireland, and Malta (from the EU), have already done. The participation of Thessaloniki gives us a great shining example for other municipalities to follow soon in supporting this campaign.