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Aberri Eguna 2012 Manifesto. Euskadi Bizia. More of a Nation

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We are about to commemorate a painful anniversary: that of the horror of the indiscriminate bombing of the Basque civilian population, in which citizens who wanted nothing more than to live in peace and freedom were murdered in the name of that "great, free, indivisible Spain". The victims of these execrable, inhuman, unforgettable aggressions have been weighed down by them for decades. The regime that imposed itself through those barbaric acts showed no compassion and made no reparations. There are wounds caused to us in those dark times of repression, punishment and murder that have still not healed.

But we cannot and do not forget that years later there were those who, in the name of our Basque homeland, also engaged in murderous, inhuman violence against everything that they disagreed with and called “the enemy”.

Both these forms of violence debased the very national causes that their exponents claimed to be defending. Both left nothing behind but victims, pain, suffering and hate. We must hope that history will never repeat itself, because the only things that can be built of death, force and violence are anguish, bitterness and consternation. Hate is not and can never be the basis for anything positive in terms of the future or of peaceful coexistence.

In 1932 the Basque Nationalist Party mobilised its members and supporters to announce the “resurrection” of the Basque homeland on the first “Aberri Eguna” or “Basque Homeland Day”. On the anniversary of that date ever since, in freedom and under the dictatorship, the Party has never failed to speak out for the rights of the Basque People to their freedom and to full political and institutional expression.

But now, in 2012, for the first time in 76 years of history, we can freely call for our right to sovereignty without the scourge and threat of violence. It is almost 6 months since ETA declared the end of its armed operations.

It is true that real peace will take some time to settle among us. The absence of violence is the first and most important premise of true peace. But for there to be real peace not only must the consequences of an exceptional chain of actions and reactions be disabled, but the sensations of confrontation, supremacy and imposition that have underlain certain behaviour patterns in exercising political action must also be deactivated. The fact that ETA has declared an end to its armed operations is a decisive step towards achieving peace in this country, but for there to be civil reconciliation in Spain in the days to come those who have lived their lives believing in the legitimacy of the armed struggle must acknowledge and take on board the right to be different – which must be recognised also by those who have made politics conditional on the existence of violence – and must sign up to respect for the majorities and minorities that Basque society establishes at any given time.

And everyone, including public institutions – all public institutions – must put their shoulders to the wheel to smooth the path towards the construction of true, permanent peace and harmony. It would be extremely irresponsible to remain stuck in the rut of the past, fail to recognise that a new era is upon us and fail to adopt decisions that would certainly smooth that path.

Yes, complete peace is still a long way off in the Basque Country, but we must not belittle the great step forward taken by the country in the past few months. We have never experienced a time such as this: with no fear of the calendar, with no fear of seeing the list of victims grow longer and with no dark uncertainties looming over our future.

This, then is the first Aberri Eguna without ETA violence; the first Aberri Eguna of a new era for the Basque Country.

There is no longer any excuse for those who have long sought to command the tide and have used the existence of violence as their justification for vetoing the democratic exercise of self-determination by the Basque people. There is no longer any reason to raise obstacles to political initiatives for the advancement of the Basque Country as a nation. This is the first year of the new Basque Country and of new Basques who can aspire to anything.

It the modern era our horizons as a people have been marked by three landmarks:

The first came in the late 19th century, when Sabino Arana identified the principle of nationalities in the political future of our people. This was the personalisation of a political subject that was derived from interpretations that were even poetical in nature – national rights different from those that had previously been established – and it placed the Basque people and their right to recover their sovereignty at centre stage. Since that time there has not been a single moment, whatever the circumstances and whoever leading players have been at any given time, when the claims of the Basque people to nationhood have not been part of our agenda.

The second landmark in the modern-day destiny of Basque society can be traced to the 1980s. Euskadi was a political project which basically belonged to the nationalists and which, for numerous reasons, had been taken on board without conviction by groups that had entered the country in search of work and prosperity. These “incomers” – who prospered and grew up here with no more sense of identity than that of sharing the joys and sorrows of the society that welcomed them without asking where they came from or where they were going – came to the Basque Country seeking an opportunity for progress in a context of growing industrialisation, and earned themselves a place here through their respect, sacrifice and hard work, in this society that they helped to grow and move forward.

But the industrial crises of the 1980s and early 1990s and the decline of strategic sectors led the country to previously unheard-of levels of unemployment. Many of these “Basques by assimilation” chose to capitalise their severance pay, put an end to their experiences as migrants and return to their places of origin to resume the personal and family lives that they had broken off there. But a large majority decided to stay here, in this land that by then was theirs too. Euskadi became their only hope of making a living for themselves and for their children and grandchildren.  They decided to put down roots. It was a once-and-for-all decision to link their own future and that of future generations to the fate of this country. They built a new Basque society that was plural and diverse, that broke away from the myths and risks of break-up of a Basque Country with two communities. They became quite simply Basques: heterogeneous, poly-identitary but now and future Basques.

We are now at the third landmark stage of this “social revolution”. No-one – fortunately – can distinguish between the sociological behaviour patterns of those who were once described as “locals” and “outsiders”. The new Basque society behaves similarly in sociological terms to other modern, developed societies: without stereotypes or group dysfunctions. And that is precisely where the new challenge for these new times lies.

There is a society that believes in a country; that identifies with its symbols, its institutions, its aspirations to self-government and its cultural specificities: a society that trusts and believes in Euskadi. It also wants the opportunity to improve its quality of life in an open, global setting that we must tune into on the basis of progress and change.

Will the Basque Country that we have built and that is now defended by the Basque community as a whole prove itself capable of living up to the expectations and meeting the needs of its citizens? Will the project for a Basque nation prove an effective benchmark for continuing to solve the actual problems and concerns of its citizens? Will it serve as a tool for cohesion and social refuge in times of uncertainty?

Only if the new Basque Country to be built is set up as an institutional area always at the service of the Basques will it be meaningful and successful. Only if it is capable of seeking new horizons in work, wealth and prosperity will it have a future.

Only if it is economically and financially strong and powerful enough to ensure social cohesion and protect those who seek refuge in it will the project for the Basque Country prove incontestable.

Only if the new Basque nation is grounded on real foundations, only if Basques feel comforted by the effectiveness of their new status will Euskadi have taken the right path: the path of a nation inEurope; the path of a country supported by the decision and will of the majority of its population.

A new status, a new nation capable of meeting social needs. This means much more than just claims, identity and history: it is a new jumping-off point to which we must begin to give shape at once.

Change is intrinsic to human beings and to societies, and Basque society has been changing continually since as far back as science allows us to look. Our own mythology – and every people needs its myths – has sometimes called into question the incontestable evolution of the Basque people.

The Basques have changed, enriched themselves and modified their identity over time. The key to the survival of “Basqueness” is precisely its dynamic nature: it has learned to adapt. Anything that does not adapt is bound to die.

But now change comes more quickly, mainly because of a technological revolution that enables information to be sent from one end of the world to the other in real time, without limits. That change in information and decision-making processes has given rise to the globalisation of the economy, to unlimited transfers of financial and legal services, goods and, of course, to political and social changes.

How is Basque nationalism as represented by EAJ-PNV going to respond to this? In the same way as it has done in the past, i.e. by adapting itself, its discourse and its points of connection with Basque society to continue working towards its fundamental goal: so that this country, this society, the Basque people can endure and develop in the new situation that faces us. Everything else is instrumental.

The type of political structure with which we must equip ourselves at any given time is equally instrumental: the main thing is for the Basque People to endure and develop as such.

The three elements on which Basque nationalism must base its raison d’être and its connection with Basque society are these:

First, saying yes to a globalised, open world, but one with its roots firmly planted in the soil. All realities need a point of connection, a soul, something that we can not merely identify but identify with. Branches and leaves can open out into the world, but there must be soil in which to plant our roots. We, the Basque Nationalist Party, offer our people and our society that identifiable soul.

Second, economic success in this open world calls for good management in small-scale contexts. And that is where our own project of a national identity is an asset that permits competitive economic development.

And third, in an open world where everything can be bought and sold, and everything hinges on competitiveness, without frontiers, what is to happen to the underprivileged? Where is the element that can provide such a society with cohesion and solidarity? It lies in the concept of community. And who provides Basque society with the concept of community?: Basque nationalism as represented by EAJ-PNV.

All this is developed through free will. And in the 21st century the free will of a people, of a nation, is expressed democratically through its legal and political recognition, and through the exercise of its right and capacity to make its own decisions.

At this Aberri Eguna for a new era, the Basque Nationalist Party maintains its willingness to build a new Euskadi that can meet the needs of a new citizenry by committing itself to three basic undertakings: a society with its own identity and roots that identifies us at home and abroad; stringent, sound economic management of our area; and the maintaining of our community as a key element for coexistence.

These are certainly deeply thought-provoking ideas for a society accustomed to news stories and headlines that pass in rapid succession. But on this Basque Homeland Day, Aberri Eguna, we must strive to show the Basque people the path to full recognition of our country as a nation in the near future. Euskadi, a European nation. Euskadi, a nation at peace.

But there is still a long way to go. We need to make up the time lost through the inaction of a lame-duck government. We must re-establish plurality in dialogue and the recognition of all political options. We must establish a context of public intervention that can restore confidence, boost economic activity, Position the name “Euskadi” as an external benchmark brand that can create new business opportunities, jobs and wealth and bring about an upturn that can take us out of the recession and the crisis.

We must hone our skills in dialogue so as to break through the forced lack of communication of other times and other circumstances. And we must establish a judicial basis for this new era. A new political status for a new era. The Basque Nationalist Party is ready to act. A new constituent era for a new Euskadi.

 Gora Euskadi Askatuta!


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