2 August 2006


On June 29th President Zapatero made a statement in one of the lounges of the Spanish Parliament. It was spread at length.In this information we compile the different reactions to this statement and its different interpretations so that our readers can drawn their own conclusions.

Zapatero's statement in the Parliament lounge

It was a relevant eagerly waited and largely announced political act.On June 29 Zapatero announced in a Parliament lounge his readiness to dialogue with ETA.The message touched two important questions: on one hand, the government officially announced the beginning of the talks; on the other hand, he assured that "the government will respect the decisions taken by the Basque citizens ". The statement was bound to be said with the usual dressing: defence of the current political frame, the high degree of self-government that we Basque people enjoy, disqualification of the violent response, the Constitution as the limit to any change, there will not be any political price for peace. In order to reach what he called "great political agreement on coexistence"Zapatero fixed three criterion: maximum possible consensus , respect to the political plurality in Euskadi and equal opportunities". Then he detailed three rules: "democratic will, subject to legality and a wide political agreement which includes the pluralism of the Basque society ". He directly addressed to this society when he stress that "peace is our common task; peace will be strong if it has deep social roots; political, social and union agents must reach agreements to establish a coexistence frame based on dialogue".

Reactions to the statement Basque Autonomous Government.

It express its satisfaction at the Spanish president statement and on its opinion is to be regretted that the Spanish president was no as receptive as now when the Basque president present his conflict resolution plan, the Ibarretxe Plan, in this same Spanish parliament.The parties that take part in the tripartite Basque government positively received the statement, but with some nuances: "the terminology and the concepts are calculatedly ambiguous. At the end of this process the recognition of a new political subject -the Basque people- has to arise" (PNV). "It means implicitly recognizing the Basque citizens right to decide their future". (EA) "The wish to promote a political agreement is a big advance. There is no reason for not starting the parties table on next autumn" (Ezker Batua). The socialist family addressed to all the Basque parties: "It is time for responsibility. It is generating expectations. I hope the political parties rise to the occasion in order to look for a common factor " (Socialist Party of Euskadi). "If we do not try to find a solution now the society would never forgive us" (Socialist Party of Navarra). "France is also engaged because there are prisoners in France and because the issue affects French institutions" (French Socialist Party). The Basque trade unions: "It is a good new. The government must take steps in key of easing of tension so that the process gains credibility " (ELA). "We receive very well the start of dialogue with ETA because it is another sep towards the political normalization inEuskadi" (CCOO de Euskadi). "It is a very important sep. We are prepared and we engage to contribute to it " (UGT of Euskadi).The independentist trade union LAB assessment is that "Zapatero's statement is a very important qualitative sep forward; since the transition we have never listened this kind of words from a Spanish president. Nevertheless, it has to be very clear the any legality should be the containment wall of the Basque's will" The bellowing of the right wing who reacted at once: "ThePP can not give its support to the government so that it talks with ETA or withBatasuna. Talking with Batasuna means talking with ETA, and therefore the terrorists should have won" (PP). "The president of the government has gone today much more far than we expected, he has given his approval to the right of self -determination and to independence. In the History of the Basque country today starts a black moment. Future is not hopeful at all" (PP of the Basque Country). "This is a very sad and fateful day; we have witnessed today the capitulation of Spain. Terrorist have won because we the democrats have been defeated" (UniĆ³ndel Pueblo Navarro). "The terrorist today are having a wonderful day; 38 years of crimes, threatens and blackmail have given them the fruits they wanted" (Victims of Terrorism Association).

The international scene applauds the statement.

Many and varied voices gave their support to this step: "We express our hope that this dialogue leads to a definitive arrangement" (Jaques Chirac). "Only through dialogue and keeping the cease-fire it would be possible to find a lasting solution" (Tony Blair). "It is now essential that the Basque left has an electoral political tool to defend its position at the polls" (ERC)) Batasuna. On June 29 it made its first assessment: "this is a positive statement and has a big political importance. The Spanish president promised to respect the will of the Basque people. This is a basic concept for the ongoing political process".

On June 30 Batasuna makes its own solemn statement that in a wider and more precise way shows its position. Batasuna considers that "president Zapatero's statement is extremely important. His statement is a democratic triumph of the Basque Country and its citizenry as a whole. After long years of conflict, Madrid recognizes that negotiation is the tool to reach the solution and that solution has to be based on the world and the decision of the Basque people. The engagement, the generosity and the capacity for the fight had turned out to be basic. Batasuna thanks its militants for their steady answer to aggressions as well as for their defense of the Basque prisoners and against ilegalization. Towards the future, the key to reach the eagerly awaited solution lies in the work of the Basque agents, and this is the reason why Batasuna underlines that it is necessary that the citizenry gets involved".

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