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Iniciativas

12/21/2010


Elkarbizitzarako Bake-Bideak

The Basque National Party, EAJ-BNP, on an end to violence through dialogue and a return to political normality)

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INTRODUCTION. The responsibility of the Basque National Party, EAJ-BNP

 

I. Basque society in search of paths towards peace

 

  1. 1.      A fresh opportunity
  • Factors propitiating peace
  • The courage of society
  • Towards a just peace
  • The responsibility of everyone
  • A victory for everyone
    • A programme of reconciliation
    • Acknowledgement and repair for the victims
    • A time for politics

 

2.   Values already accepted

  • Our ethical and civil commitment in the face of violence
  • The nature of the conflict in the Basque Country
  • The democratic struggle against violence
  • The value of peace
  • In search of a democratic exit
  • The Basque people have a right to peace
  • Political co-existence is the challenge

 

3.   The beginning of the end of violence

  • The key to the process
  • No channelling of the political process
  • A shared appraisal of the cessation of violence
  • Prisons policy and reinsertion at the service of peace
  • Commitments to the building of a peace process

 

 

 

II. An opportunity for political normalisation

 

1.   To make a political agreement possible

  • The current and future frameworks of co-existence
  • An agreement based on acceptance of the rules of democracy
  • An agreement which respects the pluralism of Basque society
  • Towards an agreement scenario
  • The right to decide and commitment to the pact
  • Commitment to respect for the decision taken by Basque society
  • A democratic conception of territoriality

 

2.   The negotiation table and an agreement for political normalisation

  • Undertakings for the agreement
    • When, who and where
    • On both tables

 

3.   Nature and conditions of the consultation

  • Giving a voice to the Basque people
  • Conditions for the consultation


INTRODUCTION. The responsibility of the Basque National Party, EAJ-BNP

 

We present this document with an unequivocal vocation of service to the country and with a great desire for peace. We are encouraged by the undertaking to move forward the political initiative which the women and men of the Basque National Party accept at this historic crossroads, in the awareness that Basque society, which has entrusted us with political leadership in Euskadi, demands of EAJ-BNP leaders the special exercise of responsibility and flexibility, clear convictions, the ability to negotiate, diplomacy and humility. And, most particularly, it demands we take the initiative, that we put forward our own projects and help reconcile them with others in order to reach an agreement acceptable to all, with the participation and commitment of social agents. We are aware of the importance of the task, the responsibility we are taking on, and the risks this entails. But we would betray ourselves and, an even more serious offence, the majority of Basques who have placed their trust in us, if we drew back to avoid the vertigo of responsibility. We take up the challenge with our gaze fixed on a future of peace and a return to political normality for our people.

 

Euskadi yearns for peace, and also aspires to political normalisation. For too long we have been immersed in deep conflict. A political conflict which has installed deep collective dissatisfaction, and we must all work together to seek a dignified exit. EAJ-BNP, the Basque National Party, founded as the political expression of that conflict, has the historical memory to take up the challenge. Our party was created 110 years ago with the objective of guaranteeing the existence of the Basque Country as a differentiated nation and retrieving sovereignty, following the abolition of our system of fuero laws in the 19th century. Since that time, generations of Basque men and women have suffered the consequences of this political conflict. Those who suffered in war, in prison, exile, political persecution and economic hardship, when their only crime was defending democracy, freedom and the national cause of Euskadi.

 

The Basque cause, unfortunately, has also been used cruelly against Basque society itself: calls for freedom have killed, extorted and violated within our country and elsewhere, staining the national Basque cause with blood and opprobrium.

 

Those who suffered repression for defending democracy and freedom in the Basque Country and the victims of violence and terrorism call out to us, and call for a solution to the Basque Country today, for the Basque Nation of the 21st century. And we place the emphasis on a solution, not the solution, because doubtless a permanent solution does not exist, nor will it be the only solution.

 

We are a modern society in transformation, immersed in larger spaces. This is the framework within which we must search for an agreement setting out the basic parameters for peace and co-existence, to allow the Basque society of today to decide their political and social status. An open, modern agreement, including formulae which respect the wishes of the Basque people as expressed by the usual mechanisms of advanced democracies, and which also includes the supra-national realities around us with which we must interrelate to build a better future together.


I. Basque society in search of paths towards peace

 

1. A fresh opportunity

 

Factors propitiating peace. Some of the factors which have helped design and provide the first glimpses of a definitive end to violence in the Basque Country are as follows:

 

ü      certain changes in Basque society, changes in mindsets, sensitivities and public awareness – nor must we forget various pacifist expressions, mobilisation in favour of victims and the contributions of a number of forums for dialogue;

ü      social processes in relation to generational change, consolidation of the welfare state or new values among young people, turning violence into a dramatic extravagance;

ü      the irreversibility of the rejection of violence by a majority of Basques, including considerable sectors of ETA’s social environment, many of whom at least question the pragmatic use of violence;

ü      the Kursaal Declaration as a catalyst to the calls of our people for peace, the wishes of the majority to build Euskadi on a national and social level, whose principles formed the basis for the Proposal for a New Statute approved by an absolute majority in the Basque Parliament on 30 December 2004;

ü      the work of self-government carried through by the Basque Government, insofar as this has consolidated national Basque identity within the institutions, and the tasks carried out by the institutions to ethically de-legitimise the use of violence;

ü      the change of government inMadrid, signalling the end of confrontation and the perspective of a policy based on dialogue and respect for plurality;

ü      certain sections of the Anoeta Declaration signed by the National left in its entirety, excluding ETA from interlocution to secure an agreement for political co-existence;

ü      the Downing Street Declaration, the Stormont agreements and the peace process inIreland, which have initiated the search for a solution to a conflict of similar characteristics to our own;

ü      the effect on ETA of what has been dubbed international terrorism following the attacks of 11 September, which provoked particular sensitivity and rejection by the public at large, and also reinforced common judicial and policing space in Europe and worldwide;

ü      a long period with no killings;

ü      the political juncture following the last elections to the Basque Parliament, where we must take account of the following:

 

  • No-one wishes to be, nor should they be, excluded from major decisions which affect society.
  • Integrating solutions are required, solutions which are articulated on the basis of centrality and understanding.

 

The courage of Basque society. A particularly important factor in the creation of this political climate has been the maturity of our society. To quote the Coalition Agreement between EAJ-BNP/EA and EB-Berdeak, “the immense majority of the Basque people rejects violence and terrorism as instruments of political action, they are committed to solidarity with the victims, and advocate dialogue and respect as methods to solve conflicts”.

 

Much of this climate is due to factors which go beyond the juncture or the actions of a legislature, and also beyond the task of a government or a party in isolation. Violence is a problem which can only be solved to any degree of satisfaction between everyone involved, although they may be involved to a greater or lesser extent and hold more or less responsibility. Those who do not see the situation as clearly as this will find it hard to understand where the solution lies.

 

Towards a just peace. Together we have all opened up the horizons of a just peace, “within a framework of dignity and liberty”, as the Euzkadi Buru Batzar said in a statement issued on the first anniversary of the break in what was known as a cease-fire by ETA[1]. A just peace which will be a victory for local citizens - in other words, an opportunity for repair, reconciliation and cohesion within a society whose democratic convictions (non-violence and dialogue with no exclusions) are the main tools of pacification. The message conveyed by Basque society is extremely clear: peace must be built between all parties, with no sterile blockages or dogmatisms. This is an opportunity which must be seized with intelligence, modesty and cooperation on all sides.

 

The responsibility of everyone. Ahead of us lies a path we must take with enthusiasm, but not naïvely or with excess voluntarism, because we have learned from our own successes and mistakes, and indeed from those of others. No-one has a magic formula, and no-one should exclude anyone else. Within a peace process ETA and the State are not the only agents operating, since building peace is a social task involving a host of political and social agents who are essential for a successful process of peace and reconciliation.

 

EAJ-BNP accepts its role in a legitimate and responsible fashion, in accordance with the trust placed in us by thousands of Basque citizens, and we intend to constitute a basic reference in the construction of a just and lasting peace for our people.

 

A victory for everyone. In recent years, we have worked honestly and sincerely to keep the problem of violence out of partyist traffic. Now we must turn a successful peace process into a victory for everyone.

 

A programme of reconciliation. The extent of the damage caused by violence is so great that the return to normality in social life will not be complete even when the actual damage has disappeared, because the wounds remain in people and in the social framework. Thus it may be understood there is an all-consuming need for a Comprehensive Plan for Peace and Reconciliation, undertaken by the Basque tripartite because “it is necessary to work within a culture of peace, which means, in addition to the rejection of violence, living and internalising ethnic references such as respect for individual and collective human rights, equality, solidarity, social justice, respect for diversity and active defence of civil and political liberties”[2].

 

The Basque National Party accepts any responsibility which may fall to it in the attempts to achieve this objective. To this end, “we will have to regenerate lost trust in order to bring into our society the spirit of self-criticism, humility to ask forgiveness and generosity to forgive”[3]. This is a task which cannot be carried out by the institutions alone – it requires active commitment from political parties and social agents.

 

Acknowledgement and repair for the victims. The victims of terrorism and violence occupy a central location in the Peace and Reconciliation Plan to be moved forward by all because, beyond personal solidarity, there must be social acknowledgement of unjust suffering; without this, it is impossible for rightful reconciliation to take place between us. EAJ-BNP supports the resolutions passed by the Human Rights Commission and approved by a plenary session of the Basque Parliament in June 2004.

 

A time for politics. The Coalition Agreement in the current Basque Government states that “We are entering a new phase. We have a fresh opportunity. Now no-one can look away. Basque society would never forgive them for it. It is time for Politics with a capital P. And for Politics to be heard, the guns must be silent. We are not talking about setting pre-conditions for dialogue – we are simply stating two premises which are shared by the majority of political formations. The first is that we must discuss the root of conflicts to solve terrorism. The second is that Peace has no political price, but Politics can do a lot for Peace". We call for this posture in response to imposition, fanaticism, immobilism, or a lack of imagination, in our awareness that politics is only an instrument of pacification when it is practised with no closed formats or dogmatisms, with that willingness to compromise and reach integrating agreements which characterises our best traditions.

 

2. Values already accepted

 

Our ethical, political and civil commitment in the face of violence. The current expectations of peace are possible because Basque society and the democratic institutions have shown their strength and superiority in the face of violence. It is the victory of ethical principles, even when it is obvious that much delicate work lies ahead.

 

In these moments preceding what could be a final end to violence, we must point to the profound political error and moral damage which terrorism has caused to so many people and to the Basque national cause, to its lack of legitimacy, its political ungainliness and absolute immorality. Pacification will be complete when not only the guns fall silent, but when the impositionist posture which attempts to justify them ceases, the posture that anything goes to achieve certain political objectives. The approach of 'no to violence'/'yes to dialogue', in other words, a move towards peace and democratic methods, does not require anyone to renounce their own political aspirations.

 

The nature of the conflict in the Basque Country. In the Basque Country there is an old unsolved political conflict – which, it must be said, predates ETA’s violence – to be interpreted as non-acceptance of a political entity with the right to decide, the solution to which requires a complex set of political agreements and democratic respect for the wishes of the Basque people. This conflict cannot be interpreted on the criteria of ETA, thus giving us to understand that the statute process has been illegitimate, that resorting to violence has an explanation to justify it, even though the history of the transition of power, the text of the constitution itself, or development of autonomy may well leave much to be desired. ETA did not respect either the majority consensus of Basque society in relation to the Statute, nor did it respect the voice of the Basque People it claims to defend. The conflict of identities and the conflict of violence are two different things; terrorism is not the natural consequence of a political conflict. It is likewise unacceptable that its persistence is used to ignore or deny the existence of a conflict of a political nature or “profound Basque contention”[4] which must be carefully studied. It is for this very reason that our ethical, political and civic commitment does not annul our determination to seek an exit from our political conflict in the form of dialogue.

 

The democratic struggle against violence. At this crossroads signalling a host of opportunities for peace and reconciliation, albeit not exempt from certain threats, our democratic convictions and a humanist sense of politics and justice oblige us to state that it is not possible either to use any means in the fight against terrorism, and here we wish to denounce the serious excesses of State institutions. Rights have been violated in the fight against ETA in an attempt by State powers to destroy the organisation, seriously blemishing the democratic system. Much-needed social reconciliation would not be possible either if we did not speak out against the serious attacks carried out by the Batallón Vasco-español and the GAL, and judicial “errors”, with no acknowledgement or repair to their victims.

 

In recent years the most sensitive portions of the democratic system have been reached, precisely those portions which point to its quality: parties have been declared illegal, newspapers shut down, preventive jail terms have been issued for pacific and innocent people, the separation of powers has been filed down, and the excuse of ETA has been used to attack democratic Basque nationalism and Basque institutions in the most implacable, offensive and anti-democratic fashion.

 

The anti-democratic actions of the “Aznar era” with the blessing of the Spanish Socialist Party, and its consequences in particular, some of which are still in place today, must finally be overcome if we are to return to normal social and political relations in the Basque Country.

 

The value of peace. At the present time, all political formations accept that a just peace must be based on the principle that, in a democracy, decisions are taken solely by the people. The contrary would be ethically reprehensible, socially unacceptable, and a political contradiction. A peace process ought to be “understandable, acceptable and plausible for democratic public opinion”[5]. When we have defended an end to violence through dialogue, we have done this from the historical experience that this type of conflict ends in a phase of dialogue and agreement, something quite different to giving an armed organisation decision-making rights which belong only to Basque men and women.

 

In 1988 the Pact of Ajuria Enea had already stated that the persistence of terrorism could not be used either as an excuse to slow down development of the Statute of Autonomy, or as an argument to secure greater levels of self-government than democratically agreed. The origin of the need to separate an end to violence and an end to political conflict is the consideration that conflict is not the cause explaining the persistence of violence, but rather the consequence of the fact that the current judicial and political framework does not satisfy a substantial portion of Basque society. Thus it is necessary to open up dialogue between the representatives of popular wishes in order to reach a political agreement with a broad social basis. “It is for this reason that any Normalisation Agreement must contemplate the democratic principle that Basque society has the right to be consulted on its own future, in a scenario free from violence and impositions, with respect for plurality and commitment to the pact through mutual recognition. Here we understand that a Normalisation Agreement must find its channels of expression within a specific model of political self-government and social construction of the Basque Country, and also within a legal framework in relation to the State”[6].

 

In search of a dignified democratic exit. An end to violence through dialogue means a democratic exit, an appeal to the entire scope of judicial apparatus, to examine all the possibilities open to us, and not shut off certain routes. The proposal to create two areas of dialogue starts up a process whose initiative and decision are in the hands of the legitimate political representatives, and ultimately in the hands of Basque society. Our future decisions and any political agreements which we may reach as political parties will not be conditioned by ETA, which found itself unable even to accept the majority wishes of the Basque people, or the democratic legitimacy of the institutions we have created. In view of these considerations, we are certain that the Basques are willing to work and generously drive forward towards peace and reconciliation.

 

The Basque people have a right to peace. Peace means the consolidation of justice and respect for human rights. Peace begins with the absence of violence, and this depends on those who use it in its different forms. Peace is also social repair of the unjust suffering which violence and terrorism have caused to so many of our people. Peace also means bringing an end to the suffering of many people associated with ETA. To be fair and lasting, peace must necessarily involve reconciliation, requiring large doses of generosity from those who have suffered most and from society as a whole.

 

No political project can be considered as a condition for peace, simply because, above and beyond any specific political project are the decisions and the wishes of the Basque people, decisions and wishes which are at the origins of today’s institutional frameworks. These must be respected, in the same way as in the future there must be respect for the various territoriality formulae or projects for political co-existence, through respect for the wishes of Basque society.

 

Political co-existence is the challenge. In accordance with the humanist and democratic principles which have guided the Basque National Party at all times, we consider that co-existence and cohesion of Basque society are major challenges to our political activity. Not only in view of our undertaking to proceed with the social construction of Euskadi, but also due to the national dimension involved in an identity construction process of the Basque Nation as a community and a collective political unit.

 

It is not possible to build a cohesive and integrated nation upon either the confrontation of identities or upon imposition of a project which does not meet with the approval of Basque society, expressed by free and democratic consultation in a violence-free scenario. Thus conflicts of rights, of values and interests between the various identities, are permanent and inevitable, and what we must do is establish viable arrangements and compromises between the parties. Within this context, the value of pluralism in Basque society is not a lesser evil, but a consubstantial, enriching, positive feature of our society.

 

 

3. The beginning of the end of violence.

 

The key to the process. Since it considers that politics and violence are radically incompatible, EAJ-BNP proposes the democratic demand that the resolutory dialogue for the end of the process should not be the consequence of violence, but rather of the cessation of violence.

 

The resolution approved in the Madrid Parliament by all parliamentary groups, with the exception of the PP, in May 2005, literally echoing point 10 of the Pact of Ajuria Enea, stated that “if the proper conditions are fulfilled for an end to violence through dialogue, based on a clear wish to put an end to such violence and with unequivocal attitudes which could lead to this conviction, we support processes of dialogue between State powers and those who decide to abandon violence, with respect at all times for the irrevocable democratic principle that political matters must be resolved solely through the legitimate representatives of the wishes of the people ...”.

 

In his recent Investiture Speech, the Basque Prime Minister stated that “ETA must take a decisive step and, clearly and unequivocally, declare its wish to put an end to the violence. Basque political parties must accept their responsibility and undertake to provide the Basque people with a 'Political Normalisation Agreement' in relation to matters at the root of political conflict”.

 

No channelling of the political process. Respect for what Basque women and men decide, directly represented by their political parties through a consultation, is incompatible with supervision or conditioning exercised by an armed organisation. Political parties and representative institutions are the only entities which guarantee the democratic nature of the process, with consequent resolutive negotiation with no impositions, with respect for plurality, giving all projects an equal chance of being carried through, and giving the last word to the people.[7]

 

A shared appraisal of the cessation of violence. The new political era urges us to share criteria and appraisals of the validity of abandoning violence. We feel it is necessary to draw up an agreed definition between political parties in relation to the abandonment of violence and shared ascertainment of its authenticity.

 

Prisons policy and reinsertion at the service of peace. In democracy, prisoners deserve basic rights which the authorities are bound to respect and protect in all circumstances. If one feature characterises the State of Rights in relation to its prisons policy, it is a constant orientation towards social reinsertion. Thus, flexible application of the penal code, prisoners serving jail sentences near home, consideration of their families and close relations as agents of peace and reconciliation, and under no circumstances as persons who are collaterally guilty – these are today, more than ever, essential features at the service of pacification. This does not require any pre-conditions. It is therefore the time to take a decisive step towards a new focus which is consensuated, dynamic and flexible in relation to prisons policy, and here we reiterate the Basque National Party’s commitment to the challenge. In any case, this is something which in our opinion should have already been done, in accordance with the resolutions approved by the Basque Parliament in 1997, and by the Spanish Parliament in 1998.

 

Commitments to the building of a peace process. A priority objective for EAJ-BNP is to put an end to violence, and guarantee no violation in the Basque Country of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

 

The following are essential for this objective to be achieved:

 

ü      Encouraging the use of all democratic means to guarantee security, freedom and human life, and to show support and solidarity to those under threat and to the victims of violence.

ü      Encouraging social mobilisation against violence and in defence of life, of all the basic rights of all people, and defending a culture of human rights with no exceptions, based on the inalienable dignity of human beings, protecting and paying particular attention to the human rights of people deprived of their freedom.

ü      Carrying through policies of relaxation, communication and political and social conciliation to overcome any kind of threat, incommunication, exclusion or sectarianism.

 

 

And also, from the point of view of the defence of basic rights and liberties:

 

ü      Making a contribution to the democratic liberties, the basic rights and basic guarantees of a State ofRights.

ü      Encouraging the use of all political, judicial and institutional means to defend democratic principles and re-establish the bases of the democratic system.

ü      Encouraging social mobilisation against cutbacks in liberties, and enacting mechanisms to denounce the situation of democratic involution on the international front.

ü      Encouraging legislative measures to strengthen the democratic liberties, the basic rights and basic guarantees of a State ofRights.

ü      Adopting political initiatives to prevent the exclusion of part of our society, and helping implement processes which allow all sectors of society to participate in equal conditions of democracy.

 

We must also tread the path of reconciliation. As the Basque Prime Minister stated in his investiture speech on 22 June 2005: "We must regenerate lost trust in order to bring into our society the spirit of self-criticism, humility to ask forgiveness and generosity to forgive. We all have the moral obligation to make our own contributions to overcome suffering and to walk the path of reconciliation together, because this will form the sturdiest basis of our co-existence as a society".

 

 

II. An opportunity for political normalisation

 

1. To make a political agreement possible

 

The current and future frameworks of co-existence. We advocate respect for the wishes of the people and for the right of Basque society to decide its political future in a free and democratic fashion.

 

We undertake to reach an agreement in relation to recognition of this right and the procedures which ensure respect for the decision or decisions taken by the Basque people.

 

Within a context of loyalty, free of dogmatisms, the Basque National Party undertakes to reach an agreement for exercise of free decision and respect for the will of the Basque people, which may be shared between the various political sensitivities in this country.

 

An agreement based on acceptance of the rules of democracy. Proclaiming respect for the current institutional frameworks, and the real possibility of modifying these, means accepting the legitimacy of all political projects and ideas which, in due observance of human rights, are upheld by democratic means. This principle affects both the various approaches to configuration of the State and the various forms of Basque political and institutional organisation, because in a democracy everything should eventually be possible. In other words, not only should it be possible to defend any project which shows respect for human rights and freedom, but it must be possible to implement it, provided it enjoys the required support of society and uses democratic procedures.

 

An agreement which respects the pluralism of Basque society. EAJ-BNP respects the pluralism of Basque society. We want the right of the Basque people to decide their own future to be conceived as a space for encounters, and we wish to arrange it so that everyone involved can feel it and recognise it as a shared right. Respect for the wishes of the Basque people means respect for different feelings of identity, and attempting to integrate them within a format of agreement and compromise. This is a challenge whereby we intend to solve the historical-political Basque conflict with no reduction in the social cohesion and integration of our country.

 

Consolidation of this discourse favouring positive recognition of the collective rights of the Basque People must be accompanied by active commitment on the part of the State towards its plurinationality[8]. Only in this way will it be possible to overcome the conviction installed in certain social spheres that Basque national aspirations conceal some form of democratic illegitimacy, a conviction manifested with greater strength at junctures such as the present, which has already been dubbed a second transition.

 

Towards an agreement scenario. Our objective is to reach an agreement of political normalisation defining a model for co-existence, and a framework of relations with the State featuring effective bilateralism, guarantees and conditions of loyalty.

 

The pact and non-imposition is the procedure which constitutes the rules of play of advanced societies. It is worthwhile considering at this point that the Irish agreements accepted the principle of differentiating the political movements of the majorities as against the broad agreement needed to define a community, and some precautionary measures were drawn up in connection with what was to be understood as “sufficient consensus”. In our case, this would have to be agreed and not set unilaterally by the State.

 

The right to decide and commitment to the pact. We have linked the ability to decide to the commitment to agreements, as did the judicial principle drawn up by the Canadian Supreme Court, and as in the Proposal for a New Autonomy Statute approved by the Basque Parliament. We are in favour of posing an exercise of sovereignty in spaces for encounters where matters must be solved through dialogue and agreement. The multilateralism which the most progressive positions demand for the new configuration of the world may also be demanded as an organisational principle for our societies. The pact between Basques and with the State is a procedure which, in fact, is linked to our best traditions of fuero rights, on which we built our two Statute experiences – the Statute of 1936 and the Statute of Gernika.

 

Commitment to respect for the decision taken by Basque society. We propose the following two commitments:

 

ü      not imposing an agreement less widely acceptable than those currently in force, and

ü      not preventing an agreement more widely acceptable than those currently in force.

 

Not imposing guarantees acceptance, on the criteria of social contribution and political integration, of the wishes of Basque society; not preventing avoids veto by the Spanish parliament. This is, therefore, acceptance on principle of the most democratic and most integrating principle.

 

A democratic conception of territoriality as a basis to constitute a political entity. We in the Basque National Party are working towards the political union of all Basques, and our democratic convictions would never allow us to accept any modifications to political decisions originating from blackmail or imposition. Only citizens from each of the Basque territories and their legitimate representatives may take decisions as to the possibility of forming a single political-institutional community or expressing any other relationship mechanism and so, in any case, respect for and effective exercise of such decisions must be guaranteed, as stipulated in the Proposal for a New Statute.

 

EAJ-BNP aspires in democratic fashion to political articulation between the judicial and political spheres of the Basque Country, and we intend to work towards this using politics, with no impositions whatsoever.

 

To speak of common cultural, linguistic or political links does not mean defining the country in a determinist or essentialist manner, nor does it place the territory above its actual inhabitants, regardless of what the people decide at each historic moment, as set out in the Proposal on the Right of the Basque People to Self-determination approved by the Basque Parliament on 15 February 1990.

 

We also support the agreement at the Egino Conference to “accept the decision-making capacity of this plural reality consisting of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, the Community of Navarra and the Basque territories in Aquitaine, provided a clear majority of the citizens from each of these areas expresses, also in a clear fashion, their wish to participate in a concurrent decision process”.

 

The wishes of the inhabitants of each of the three judicial-political territories of the Basque Country must be respected. From this point, it is just as legitimate to propugn a common political structure for all Basques as it is to propose a free option of another institutional expression, differentiated or articulated between the different Basque territories.

 

We wish to make explicit in all conviction, although aware of our more limited political representation in Nafarroa and Iparralde, the Basque National Party’s undertaking to work with other political formations and with social agents in both territories in order to reach agreements and implement a joint working methodology and procedure, and consequently create the required forums for political encounters and social participation to reach a broad political agreement which respects the decisions of the people of Nafarroa and Iparralde and, through respect for these wishes, makes it possible to create bodies and institutions common to the other Basque territories.

 

2. The negotiation tables and an agreement for political normalisation

 

Undertakings for the agreement. To create a forum or a debating space for parties, we first need to (re)construct the framework of trust between Basque political parties. The objective is that configuration and methodology be irreversible or, at least, make it extremely difficult to go back, and gradually bind the participants to an undertaking in search of a solution. One particularly interesting contribution is that submitted by the Egino Conference, which the Basque National Party undertakes to share with the other political parties. There are a total of seven undertakings, as follows:

 

ü      respect for human rights,

ü      respect for pluralism,

ü      respect for the wishes of the people,

ü      acceptance of exclusively democratic and pacific means,

ü      dialogue with no exclusions,

ü      negotiated and consensuated execution of any decisions adopted, and

ü      establishment of measures for arbitration and guarantees for any disagreement as to the interpretation and application of agreements reached.

 

The Basque Prime Minister set out five principles in his Investiture Speech, and we stand by these: the first two put forward the framework of conditions according to which we can draw up how, when and where; the third, fourth and fifth focus on the requirements which would have to be met to obtain a truly shared political agreement:

 

1.      The principle of non-violence and the undertaking to respect human rights, using, solely and exclusively, political and democratic methods.

2.      The principle of non-exclusion and the undertaking to respect the right to participate of all political, social and territorial sensitivities that wish to do so.

3.      The democratic principle and the undertaking to respect the will of the people and exercise of Basque society’s right to decide.

4.      The principle of equality and the undertaking to accept that all political projects defended democratically must find a way to be included as part of the judicial system.

5.      The principle of respect for plurality and the undertaking not to impose/not to prevent the exercise of the various feelings of identity present within Basque society.

 

Finally, the EAJ-BNP/EA/EB-Berdeak Agreement of June 2005 refers to certain aspects or contents, the terms of which should be defined, debated and agreed within the framework of discussion between the parties. These are, among others, acknowledgement of the Basque Country as a decision-making entity; territoriality; the right to decide, and bilateral agreement.

 

EAJ-BNP wishes to state its undertaking to participate in an active fashion to allow these tasks to be carried out and to put forward proposals to be debated between parties in order to reach agreements with a broad social and political base.

 

EAJ-BNP will contribute its postures on these matters to the debate, as set out in the Proposal for a New Statute. This contains the basic consensus reached by the tripartite (EAJ-BNP, EA and EB) with regard to matters and concepts such as the nature of the Basque People as a political entity, the right to decide and exercise of this right, territoriality, the framework for relations with the State and the pact as an undertaking[9].

 

On this basis, the Basque National Party undertakes to strive anew towards understanding and agreement. In consonance with our democratic and institutional tradition, the new political juncture obliges us to take on a new negotiation process towards settlement of a judicial and political slot for the Basque Country in the immediate future. Without waiving any of our ideological and doctrinal aspirations, EAJ-BNP takes up the challenge of reaching a broad integrating agreement in relation to such matters.

 

When, who and where. The first of the above principles conditions the phases and commencement of the resolutive phase, and to this end it is necessary either that ETA has ceased its activity or that Batasuna and EHAK have called upon it to do so. It is essential that conditions exist to allow all political parties to sit at the negotiation table and that no-one is missing, except through self-exclusion, which would not be desirable. Maximum participation will make debates more representative, and this will give us a better chance of reaching more integrating and stable agreements.

 

On both tables. Differentiating governability, a return to political normality and pacification and the forums for this have been a constant feature of the Agreements drawn up by EAJ-BNP, EA and EB-Berdeak (2001 and 2005). Batasuna also took a step in this direction when it posed its two table scenario in the Anoeta Declaration. The Socialist Party has also accepted the two differentiated areas of dialogue.

 

Debate in relation to the simultaneity or separation in time of the two tables has polarised around two extreme opinions:

 

ü      Any agreements from discussions by parties are a concession to the threats of ETA.

ü      Any such agreements must be seen as credits to ETA and, if this is not the case, there will be no agreement.

 

In any case, it is the responsibility of political parties to work to prevent debate and agreement at discussions between parties from being conditioned by matters other than legitimate debate between formations of differing levels of representation, with different and diverse feelings of identity, with different political projects. Initial activation of the discussions may be a mechanism to permit this necessary differentiation, compatible with the contents of the Anoeta Document. Such a decision may be defended in terms of democratic guarantees for the conclusion of the process of normalisation.

 

3. Nature and conditions of the consultation

 

Giving a voice to the Basque people. Consultation of the people is a political and democratic must, provided substantial modifications are proposed to the framework of co-existence. This is the consideration in the political proposals of the vast majority of parties. The Basque National Party supports the joint commitment with EA and EB-Berdeak and the Basque Prime Minister during his Investiture Speech of June 2005, and undertakes to work hard towards an agreement between parties and to carry out consultation. Consultation is therefore the result of a process in which no effort will be spared. It is not, in any shape or form, a weapon, nor is it an excuse for parties to delegate to society their obligation to work towards an agreement. Nor can we accept any veto rights which could prevent the Basque people from expressing themselves in a democratic fashion.

 

Conditions for the consultation. A democratic consultation must fulfil a number of conditions, the most important of which are an absence of violence and exclusions. The Prime Minister stated this expressly in his Investiture Speech: “if we reach an Agreement for Political Normalisation and Co-existence, I will request authorisation from the Basque Parliament, within a context of non-violence and non-exclusion, to carry out a consultation of Basque society to ratify the Political Agreement reached”. He added: “authorisation from the Parliament must be pacted to include the various aspects relating to the consultation, such as ratification of the conditions of non-violence and non-exclusion, the democratic principles established for acceptance of the results, and the enabling procedure for negotiation and inclusion of these within the judicial system”. A pact to secure the conditions to carry out the consultation is also the right procedure to ensure it is an integrating consultation producing sound results, and is feasible for subsequent negotiation.

 

Our objective in this consultation will be to achieve greater cohesion than obtained by the Gernika Statute, considering that in Nafarroa improvement of the Fuero Laws was not even submitted for approval[10]. This will constitute the cornerstone, the basic reference for democratic validation of the new meeting point for political co-existence.

 

 

 

 

Euzkadi Buru Batzarra

Executive Council, EAJ-BNP

10 October 2005

[1] Pronouncement by the Basque National Party’s Executive Committee (Euzkadi Buru Batzar, EBB) on the anniversary of the break in ETA’s cease-fire (28 December 2000).

[2] Speech by the Basque Prime Minister during the Investiture Debate in the Basque Parliament, 22 June 2005.

[3] Ditto.

[4] Expression used in the Pact of Ajuria Enea.

[5] “For an agreement between the negotiating parties in relation to an end to violence through dialogue. Working Document” (17 March 1998).

[6] EAJ-BNP/EA/EB-Berdeak Coalition Agreement (27 June 2005).

[7] Lizarra Declaration. Key points towards a solution (12 September 1998).

[8] See the text of the Barcelona Declaration, July 1998.

[9] See, for example, the Preamble and articles 1, 2, 6, 7, 10 and 13 of the Proposal for Reform of the POLITICAL STATUTE OF THE COMMUNITY OF THE BASQUE COUNTRY, approved by an absolute majority of the Basque Parliament at a plenary session on 30 December 2004.

[10] The northern Basque territories of Iparralde do not even have their own institutions, and many sectors of society are calling for the creation of a Basque département.

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