East and West peace groups fail to make peace with each other
East and West antinuclear groups met last week in Athens - and left little doubt that ideology divides the two peace movements. Almost predictably, this first meeting of its kind split down East and West lines over the issue of responsiblity for ''militarism.''
Western activists sought to discuss how to counter the arms race everywhere, while state-sanctioned groups from the Soviet bloc repeatedly attempted to steer the talks toward a discussion of who was to blame for the current situation.
''That does not offer a relationship between equals,'' said Edward Thompson of the West European nuclear disarmament group.
Known as the International Conference for the Denuclearization of Europe, the four-day meeting of 64 peace groups from 29 nations ended with no consensus. The Western groups came at a low point in their movement: The West German Green party is split, and NATO is deploying American cruise and Pershing II missiles despite heavy protests.
The purpose of the meeting was to seek ways to reestablish detente, freeze the arms race, and coordinate the activities of the various peace movements.
But, says American participant Melinda Fine of the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, ''This initiative was intended to open a dialogue between East and West, and that is its great success.''
According to Andreas Zumach of the West German Aktion Suehnezeichen and others, the peace movement worldwide is too varied and too immature to agree to a concerted plan of action.
Indeed, a delegate from Czechoslovakia, which is to receive Soviet nuclear weapons on its soil in retaliation for the NATO deployments, asserted that ''the facts show who always started the arms race, who first invented the weapons of mass destruction,'' adding that ''we support the polices of our government because those are the only ones that serve the interests of our region.''
Despite the differences, Western activists pointed to their own successes. The Netherlands' peace movement has been successful in blocking NATO missile deployment in that country. And in the United States, a nuclear freeze resolution was passed by the House of Representatives, voters are being encouraged to support freeze referendums, and certain seats in Congress have been targeted for 1984.