JOSU JON IMAZ
Day of the Basque National Party
110 YEARS … AND MOVING FORWARD
• The key to the century-old success of EAJ-PNV: Firmness in the principles and flexibility in the strategies.
• In 1936 and in the 1960 Aberri Eguna as well as the Statute of 1979, EAJ-PNV decided on an agreement between the political forces.
• The National project of EAJ-PNV seeks the social and territorial cohesion of Euskadi: “There is no Basque nation with a divided citizenship”.
• EAJ-PNV is proud of its patriotic commitment and has no complexes: We will not allow anybody to supervise our political actions”.
• As patriots we must generate a valid political discourse in Iparralde and Navarre.
• “Those interested that this country should not progress always try to weaken EAJ-PNV”
• “Our elected representatives are being threatened and we support them”
• “Anybody wanting to negotiate the future of this country must respect the principle of non-violence”.
To all you patriots who have come from Iparralde, to all patriots who have come from Navarre, Biscay, Gipuzkoa and Alava; Eguerdion (Good day to you)
This year we are 110 years old. Because of this, best wishes from the bottom of my heart. There you have the message for this year, “110 urte…ta aurrera” (110 years and moving on). And this message means two things: before us there have been others who worked for our nation with passion, from their heart, with suffering but, also with joy. If today Euskadi is a reality, if we are more of a Basque Nation than 50 years ago, if our language is now stronger and if nationalism is the driving force in our nation, it is thanks to them and thanks to many of you.
And, the second part of the message refers to the commitment:…AURRERA. The chain has not been broken. The dreams and objectives inherited from our predecessors continue to be ours: to be a Nation, to build the Basque homeland. That is why the Party was born: that is the reason for our existence. Proof of this are all of you who have come here today, people from Atturri up to the Ebro, from a Basque country extending from Xüberua up to the Enkarterriak, thousands upon thousands of party members and sympathizers representing the Basque Nation. You represent the Basque National Identity, witnesses of our fundamental objective. If we forget this we would no longer be the Basque National Party. But this is not going to happen as we have this commitment which we renew every year.
110 years and…MOVING ON, working in the construction of the nation!
MOVING ON… seeking peace!
MOVING ON… to obtain freedom for persons and for our country!
MOVING ON… to have our own voice in Europe!
MOVING ON… all of us, working together!
I would like to greet our guests from other places. First of all from a friendly country that at the moment is discussing a new Estatut so important for its future, Catalonia. From there and representing Convergencia Democratica de Catalonia we have Carles Campuzano. And representing Unio Democratica de Catalunya, Josep Antoni Duran.
From Galiza the representative of the Bloque Nacionalista Galego, recently nominated as vice-president of the Xunta de Galiza, Anxo Quintana.
From the Balearic Islands and representing Unio Mallorquina, Damia Nicolau. And representing the Socialist Party of Majorca, Gabriel Vicens. From the Canary Islands and representing Coalicion Canaria, Flora Marredo. Representing the Partido Andalucista, Antonia Agudo. And representing the Bloque Nacionalista Valencia, Joseph Maria Panella.
We also have amongst us our Saharan friends of the Frente POLISARIO represented by Mohamed el Mamun. Representing Unita we have Virgilio Samakuba. We also count on the Corsican representatives, with Pierre Ottin-Pechio of the PNC. We also welcome our friend from Bioko, as we do every year, Anacleto Bokesa. Finally we greet Luis Maldonado, representing the indigenous peoples of Ecuador.
The Keys to the 110 years.
This Alderdi Eguna is special for us. 110 years have passed since that day of Saint Ignatius of 1895. Have you ever asked yourselves about the reasons why an organization of people reaches its 110th anniversary? The first key is to have clear principles and solid convictions. About ours there is no doubt: the Construction of the Basque Nation. A free nation at peace, where we live, work, seek – and find –our welfare and that of our children and where we can maintain our identity. And show this to the world. To be in charge of our own destiny. Without yielding to anybody or anything. This is the principle which the Basque National Party has maintained over 110 years, and this is going to continue being the objective of this Party. 110 YEARS AND MOVING ON..
Maintaining our founding principles is the first key. The second is the way in which we are the Basque society, of how we capture the feelings and the vital opinions and making ourselves understood by continuing to mix with this society which feels us as part of itself.
We owe this especially to all of you, to all the people here, those who are listening to us from home, party members and sympathizers people who are committed to the people. It is you with your disinterested work, with your love for this Country and this Party with that good sense belonging to those who work sincerely, with maturity and without complexes, you are the ones who transmit to us the tenacity and the force to continue ahead: the practical intelligence to interpret the messages and the insight to be on target in our political performance.
Thinking about our Party I envision the rush. Simple, consistent, strong. Rooted in the earth. With principles. But flexible. Because when the strong wind blows, rigid things break. And the rush adapts, it bends, but it returns to its original position. To its right place. That is the way our party is. Like the rush.
We have held on for 110 years. We have lived through two dictatorships for fifty years, a war, executions, exile, prison. Repression. Five years of freedom with the Republic, twenty-five years of democracy, times of hope, coups d’etat , four dark years with a cutting back of liberties with Aznar. At all times we have known, as the football trainers say now, how to read the match. To know what Basque society was asking of us, to understand the message and to lead the majority in this country. That is the secret. That is why we have survived 110 years. That is why the Basque society has once again entrusted in us five months ago. That is why we are going to continue to lead this country during the next few years. 110 YEARS OLD… AND MOVONG ON.
The time has now come to take stock. It is a good thing to take stock. To learn. To give thanks. To forge ahead. And, if we take stock… we have to do it over the last 25 years as these are some of the few that this Party has lived in peace.
In spite of this we must not forget the previous generation. Agirre, Landaburu, Leizaola, Irujo, Rezola, Ajuriagerra and all that generation which renovated and made Basque nationalism more European. The steps taken by them are still valid today in spite of war, exile, prison and the dictatorship which did not let them do more.
The generation of ’77 which came after them started their work 25 years ago. They were patriots. The had a profound knowledge of their principles. They did not renounce anything but they were completely successful in setting out their real objectives. These objectives were clear. So that Euskadi could advance to remain alive internally. They knew how to combine and set in motion with common sense and underlying principles the objectives of the Basque National Party and those of patriotic feeling, leaving on one side the too easy discourse, responding only to criteria of national construction. Not listening to those who proclaimed “or everything or nothing” or “with me or against me” and similar attitudes, our Party realised immediately that it was the best vehicle for managing national construction which at that time was on its deathbed: to recover the Autonomy, to reinvigorate the popular institutions, to inject new life into an obsolete industry which was going through very difficult times, to maintain a firm stand in our stake in favour of Europe, promote the initiatives of Basque society and to bring the Basque language into the street and in front of the world. The results are evident. Today we are more of a Nation than 25 years ago. Anybody with a minimum of common sense has to recognise this fact.
To obtain this result it was necessary for many of you to participate. It is your achievement and the achievement of the generation of ’77. To name but a few I can think of Arzalluz, Ardanza, Garaikoetxea, Bujanda, Zubiri, Retolaza, Leizaola, Galdos, Robles, Ormaza, Gerenabarrena, Makua, Estabillo, Alkain, Aizarna, Sudupe, Federico Zabala and many more. You know perfectly well how much we appreciate your invaluable work, it is truly necessary to thank you for the effort made for the good of Euskal Herria and you can rest assured that we are going to continue in the same line without any doubt. Eskerrik asko guztioi! (Many thanks to all of you!)
Principles and Strategies
Now we are the ones to take over and to continue forging ahead. Us and all those who wish to accompany us on the way. Each one with his own sense of responsibility and commitment. Each one knowing that we do not renounce anything. As this Party did not renounce anything 25-30 years ago. At that time there were also philosophical and Kafkian debates in the Igeldo Assembly in 1977 as Eli Galdos remembered in a recent interview. Some people mistook the strategy taken by that generation with a renouncing of our principles. In fact it was just the opposite, they wanted everything. We want everything. That is what we are working for. We examine the results carefully. And we measure the risks. This Party has gone through this same debate many times throughout its history. But it has always been able to combine the principles with the needs of the moment and those required by our society. The result has been positive because it has meant an advance. This is because we have always acted with initiative. Because we have been like the rush.
This is what the Euzkadi Buru Batzar (highest Party Council) did in 1960, following the death of President Agirre in March of that year. A few days later there was the celebration of the Aberri Eguna (Day of the Basque homeland). The EBB, in the midst of the grief for the loss of the leader and the father of that tragic generation, approved a proposal confirming the position of the Party. The text is memorable and says things like this: “The Basque National Party, without renouncing any of the essential rights of the Basque Nation and which it has always proclaimed, has, from the first moment the programme for Autonomy. This is a point of coincidence between the political forces of the Country, and which was accepted and endorsed by the people”.
That EBB of the darkest days of the dictatorship gives evidence, first of all, that we reaffirm our right as a nation. I is the same as almost twnty years later, in 1979, as we did when we approved the Stature of Gernika and the reserve of rights of the Additional Legislation. Furthermore the EBB of 1960 proposes an agreement between political forces. The same stake we made in 1979 when we approved the Gernika Statute. Finally, in the declaration of 1960 the validity of the agreement is linked to to its endorsement by the people. We did the same in 1979 with the Statute.
We live at a very special time, a time of opportunities although there are risks. A time of challenge. The Lehendakari has explained it very well. It is the double challenge of pacification and political normalization. To sum up I only want to point out that we have an important challenge before us. Important, like so many others maintained by this Party throughout its history. And we shall have to use the same criteria set out by the EBB of 1960 or, the same ones assumed by the generation which managed the agreement of the Statute in 1979:
• First, a firm defence of the principles, of the undeniable rights which we have as a Nation.
• Secondly, an effort for agreements amongst the majority of political forces. The same as we did in 1936, which we proposed in the Aberri Eguna of 1960 and we agreed in 1979. Each time with the specific requirements of the historical moment. Now also.
• In third place, the endorsement by the people. I should be the will of the Basques which finally guarantees, which endorses our political agreements. This is what we have to do.
This society requires agreements through us. It requires agreements which allow us to advance in self-government. Basque society wants solutions and it will not accept the we politicians maintain breakaway attitudes. It will admonish those who do not work in favour of coexistence and a cohesion which it has so carefully attended to.
Eusko Alderdi Jeltzalea is ready to accept the challenge. To advance another step towards the national construction of our Nation. To continue on the path of national construction which we have learned. And we are going to win. You can rest assured.
Social and Territorial Cohesion
There is an aspect which we should care about in this whole process: the cohesion of Basque society. Territorial cohesion and also social cohesion amongst those of us who live in this country.
This is a country of mountaineers and we all know the value of the group or team to reach the top in conditions. We also know about the useless temptations of the short-cuts. To get to the top it is necessary to follow a path and furthermore, all together. There is no problem about one going ahead to show the way for those following, but not going so far ahead that he gets out of sight. Remember what our elders told us 25 years ago. When we were accuse of being lukewarm and moderate. They used to tell us: “don’t trust those who want to take shortcuts. In a few years you will see them lying at the bends on the path, and we will continue going ahead”.
This is what has happened: those who took the shortcut, some are in the Socialist Party, others asre in “Basta Ya” or in FAES with Aznar. And we are here, going ahead – upwards. In a few years some of the leaders in the radical patriotic left who accuse us of being lukewarm and ambiguous will be in the Socialist Party. And we will continue being patriots. We will continue to advance towards the top. Just wait and see. We are on the path. On our path.
Like that Euzkadi Buru Batzar in the Aberri Eguna of 1960 whiere it is also stated: “Our wish is to re-establish the cohesion of the Basque citizenship so that everything is at the service of our enterprise which, although national, does not exclude any fellow citizen or any person living in the Basque country”.
We are going to live times where we are going to work and negotiate with other parties. It seems that the political blockade is a thing of the past. But let us not forget the latest expression of this and which was very painful for all of us. Juan Mari Atutxa: I want to remind you of the same words I said to you in January 2004 when you were also going through a hard and difficult moment: Many thanks. For your commitment and your example.
We felt the offence as though it were against ourselves and everybody in our party and many thousands of people in Euskadi admire your nobility and your commitment with our people. They wanted to humiliate us and they have not succeeded. They have caused us a lot of suffering, a suffering which will be difficult to forget. Just two words, Juan Mari. Maite zaitugu (We love you).
But, we have to continue onwards and work for peace and for a wide political agreement to be ratified by consulting with the Basque citizenship. The easy thing would be to reach an agreement with those who think the same or in a similar way to us. However, nowadays the defence of the Basque nation , as the EBB stated in 1960, is to defend the coexistence within the Basque society.. This is because there is no Basque nation with a divided citizenship. Remember Solomon and the mother of the child who refuses to have it cut in two. A patriot who really loves his homeland will never accept the social fracture. Because fracture brings death. The Basque nation will not exist if it is fractured. Therefore we are going to continues as far as possible to obtain an ample agreement between the political forces of this country – nationalists, federalists and non-nationalists, in order to reach a political normalization. To obtain peace and political and social coexistence. So that Euskadi can live and have a future.
With regards to territory, our Party must think more of Navarre –considering the Navarrese mentality and more of Iparralde (French Basque country) with the mentality of Iparralde. We do not want Euskadi going quickly up the mountain if that means leaving Navarre and Iparralde down in the valley, out of sight. When we think of political strategies and in agreements for normalization, we have to think of how we can build the social majorities which we need in Navarre so that Nafarroa Bai can lead the change in a year and a half.. So that Nafarroa Bai can aspire to the presidency of the foral government. We do not have to ask the PSN and Chivite to lead the change. We have to lead it from Nafarroa Bai, gathering around it those parties who pledge on a plural Navarre, respecting and recognising Euskara as an official language, and reconciled with its culture and history. Which can be built with a real respect for its foral privileges, and what has always been the fuero, the capacity of decision by the citizens of Navarre and to reach agreements on a peer to peer basis. Not that fuero mentioned in the jota which defends not the “foralista” but the “foralero” who says that he is from Navarre but that above all he is Spanish.
I would like to congratulate our organization in Iparralde. You are doing an incredible job in the Northern Basque Country: reinforcing the unions between the South and the Northern Basque Country, so that those involved with culture and the Basque language are brought nearer to us; attracting those interested in the re-launching of the economy in Iparralde; acting as a leader who proclaim the Basque institutions and its political autonomy; obtaining the cooperation of those wishing to surmount the frontier between Hegoalde and Iparralde.
All this is our challenge. This Party has given absolute priority to the political action in Iparralde. What does this mean?
• On the one hand we have to measure the effect of the words and messages contained in our political speeches in Hegoalde.
• On the other hand, in Donibane Lohitzune, in Angelu or in Bayonne we have to create political messages which produce majorities. It is not difficult to make speeches which alter and stir up the hearts of the Basques in Ondarroa, Mutriku or Aramaio. But, at the same time in this Party we have to structure a discourse capable of winning in Miarritze, Alsasu or in Lizarra. That is the job of the patriots.
To be Basque patriots at the beginning of the 21st century obliges us to analyse what the model is to build up, here and now, the Basque Nation. And I wish to encourage the party members in Iparralde to develop your own discourse, your own way, as in fact you are already doing. This development in Iparralde cannot be “anecdotic” or parallel to the development in the south. Iparralde is a REALITY. Consequently it requires a special analysis and its own strategy. That is our objective.
Commitment without Complexes
And I want to finish with a consideration. First of all what defines a patriot for me. The commitment. In this country there are many who call themselves patriots. Furthermore there are some who think they have the right to make party members pass the “cotton-wool test”, but we are not going to let anybody direct our political action. Amongst other reason because this Party has 110 years of democratic patriotic action. And over the last 25 years it has led national construction, institutionalisation, the recovery of our identity and the welfare of this country.
We have done through commitment, while others believing that they had a patent in patriotism have brought tragedy and suffering to our people. We shall continue to insist on bringing peace to this country. To offer, once more, the opportunity to those who did not want to take the decision 25 years ago by scorning our road. But as a party we can hold our head high, because the course taken by the men and women of EAJ-PNV over these past years has been one of commitment. A patriotic commitment. Working to build up the country as a councillor in a village, from an ikastola or college, from a sports club of from a business.
I feel proud of the women and the men of this Party. Of all of you. And we are going to continue on our way. Without complexes. With nobody directing our route and discourse.
Lauaxeta: a model and distinguished patriot.
Today I want to recall the commitment of a great patriot in the centenary of his birth. A patriot representing a whole generation; Lauaxeta, writer and poet.
But he was not just a writer because Lauaxeta was also a person who loved and studied the Basque language and a great patriot. He always worked in favour of his country and homeland: in meetings, in political and cultural initiatives, directing plays in the theatre, promoting Emakume Abertzale Batza, creating radio programmes in the Basque language, organizing exhibitions of books…
There is a famous verse of Lauaxeta which is nothing more than a cry of love for his country:
Eta ilunzeko bakean norbaitek darrai kantari
“Denon emon biar jako, maite dan askatasunari”
(And in the peace of the evening someone is heard singing
“Everything must be given for the freedom you want”)
When he was on his way to Gernika he was captured by the fascist who took him to Gasteiz as a prisoner. There they assassinated him against the walls of the cementary. Lauaxeta poet, party member, lover of peace and a defender of the rights of women.
Lauaxeta the patriot, the loyal member of Euzko Alderdi Jelzalea who always proclaimed that we should not kill our enemies. He wrote about the need to defend patriotism and justice only by the force of reason.
To remember and mention Lauaxeta in these meadows is to remember Eusko Gudarostea (the Basque army). A salute and all honour for you, our gudaris! You are the ones who guard with the greatest dignity the honour and commitment for the freedom of our people.
Lauaxeta also has productive and valid messages for the young people. Lauaxeta always defended the prevalence of formation and culture as when he stated: “Culture is for the nation like blood is for the body”.
Those of us who are admirers and followers of Lauaxeta and many others like him have to deepen our commitment with Euskal Herria. We have prepare ourselves and make ourselves capable, working for the construction of Basque society. Without any complexes. Without listening to those who shout. In the true national construction, with the practical commitment corresponding to a nationalist.
We have an interesting time ahead of us. A time of opportunities. Society trusts us and we are going to be on target. We will do this as we have always done it. With clear principles. Intelligently so that we know the right step to take at any particular time. Those who do not have principles and only have strategy and tactics finish up by not knowing where to go. Lost like a zombie. And the person who only has principles and no flexibility never advances. He crashes against the world. This is very pure but it is not digestive, like distilled water.
This party has principles and political intelligence. We know the society we live in and what the majority of our people want. Therefore and because we have been able to read the match at all times we have come as far as this. And we are going to keep on advancing United. Because unity is our strength. Those who do not want this Country to advance have always done the same thing. They have tried to disunite and weaken the PNV. Time and again. Do not have any doubts about this. We shall do our thing. 110 YEARS ..AND MOVING FORWARD.
Support for those under threat
Before finishing I do not want to forget those who most need support. Here you are, mayors and councillors of the Party. Some of you are having a very bad time. Your only sin is your service to this Country which you represent as well as those who have voted for you. Some of you are under pressure, are being insulted, threatened. And you stand up to all this. In the front line of the political trench which is the most difficult. Many others are on your municipal councils. In complex villages and towns. There are also many of you here who have suffered or suffer extortion, threat and coercion. Maybe you have received a letter. Sometimes addressed to one of you children or your wife or husband. And you are desolate. For working all day in your place of business or workshop. Or in your profession. For the sin of working for this country.
Two thoughts. First of all, you are not alone. We are with you and we thank you. We recognise your capacity for resistance. And we love you even though many times we are not able to transmit this feeling as we would wish. Secondly, we are going to be blunt, firm in requiring that nobody in this Country should suffer any more, not violence, threats, attacks or extortion. If anybody wishes to negotiate with this Party, if they want to be in the negotiations for the future of this country, they will have to respect this principle. We do this for ethical and democratic reasons. But we also do it because of our dignity as a Party. And for the future of our people.
Gora Euskadi Askatuta! (Long live the free Basque country.)
Josu Jon Imaz