On March 22, 2006, the armed Basque organization ETA announced an indefinite cease-fire that would start on March 24. Fourteen months later, on June 5, 2007, ETA announced the end of the cease-fire and the reopening of the armed struggle at all the fronts, starting at midnight of June 5.
Today, our aim is to inform about what happened in the wings during the months when the miscarried normalization process was open.
Chronology of a new failed attempt
Since 2000, there have been non official talks between the Basque left and the Spanish PSOE (Socialist Party). In these talks both of them agreed that the point was dealing with a political conflict that needed a political approach.
The indefinite cease-fire.
As a result of these talks, and aiming to facilitate them, ETA announced an indefinite cease-fire. The logic next step would have been an honest dialogue between both sides. Unfortunately what happened was just the opposite. Once deactivated the armed confrontation, PSOE as well PNV put a strategy previously plotted into practice: denature the process by transmitting the public opinion that the process was just a technical one (disarmament of ETA-resolution of the Basque political prisoners issue), at the same time that they intensified the judicial and police harassment against the Basque left. By doing, so equality of conditions was denied to the other side by the one formed by PSOE-PNV, in other words, a shameful manipulation of the good will of the other side in order to erode it, to have it on the ropes, and if possible, to eliminate it.
The first crisis.
As a result of this change by PSOE and the PNV after the truce declaration by ETA the process reached a deadlock within two months. Before May 2006, the talks underwent their first and grave crisis. In order to unblock it, the Basque left tried to reactivate the encounters with the political parties. In that context we have to locate a very closely followed by the mass media meeting maintained by PSOE and Batasuna in a Bilbao hotel. The PSOE leaves the way free so that the phase of negotiation would advance. Nevertheless, the public projection by the media as for the reached agreement was fatal. In the press conference after the encounter - that happened to be positive - the representatives from the PSOE deceived the citizenship. They said that they had attend the talks not to the solve a crisis, but to remember Batasuna "that it had homework to be done". Despite this rude disinformation, the aim was fulfilled since the crisis was surpassed.
The second crisis.
This crisis took place on August 2006. In the 6 July meeting, so widely announced by the media, PSOE as well as Batasuna committed themselves to reach a pre-agreement before the 31st of July. The dates previously agreed were exceeded without reaching the aim. In a press conference Batasuna's spokesmen tlak about the crisis and the blockade. A little later, PSOE and PNV executives gave green light to reach a pre-agreement which should be debated later by all the Basque agents. The crisis is solved with this decision which means a qualitative jump: for the firs time a true political negotiating table among the three interlocutors is formed with the same aim: to give a definitive and political solution to an old political conflict.
Time of intense dialogue and the two rough drafts.
As it was previously agreed, on September 2006 the dialogue among the three sides becomes more intense. Three meetings were held in September, six more in October, and three more in November. It was an intense experience due to the three interlocutors analysis level: Batasuna, PSOE and PNV. The talks were based on two main points: the necessary political bases for a future agreement, and the establishment of a general scheme for the development of the process.
Four questions were approached, the four of which required consensus: the conception of Euskal Herria as a nation, the right to decide, the respect for all the rights and the institutional organization. Formal aspects were also debated: the method and schedule of the multilateral dialogue (previously, Batasuna and PSOE decided to start up the multy-party table before October 2006).
The intense work during these months gave as a result two rough drafts. The first of them saw the light in September; after reaching this rough draft, October was the most positive month, since it was possible to remarkably advance. At the end of this month a second rough draft saw the light; the bases of a possible agreement that would bring the resolution for the conflict appeared in this rough draft.
The hour of the commitments.
The sixth and last meeting of October was decisive. In that meeting, each one of the interlocutors had to define its position. Batasuna alerted that the rough draft contained gaps and ambiguities that could make it very dangerous at the time of being applied. The first two sections about the recognition of Euskal Herria as a nation and the respect for the rights reached the general agreement. The ones related to the right to decide and the territorial organisation caused discords; Batasuna demand that they have to be more precise so that a fraud could not happen at the time of carrying out a change of the status of Euskal Herria, a point that in private talks the three sides considered absolutely necessary.
Important political proposal of the Basque left.
In order to solve the new blockade, Batasuna put on the table a very important political proposal, which means a big effort done by this political party: an autonomy statute for the four territories in the south of Euskal Herria envisaging the right of the citizens to decide for themselves, and not excluding the option of independence if the Basque citizens decide so. The proposal is close to PNV's ideology and agrees with PSOE's proposals made not many years ago.
The contributions that never materialised since the interlocutors left the table.
After knowing Batasuna's proposal, at the end of October the interlocutors committed themselves to write up their own contributions. They never fulfilled their task. During the three meetings held in November, PNV reiterated that it would change not even one a single comma of the second rough draft; and as for the PSOE, it made important reductions relative to the previous compromises. Regarding Batasuna's new proposal, both PSOE and PNV refused to take it into consideration. As a result, Batasuna reduced its exigency level and it proposed an action line shared with them in order to get closer to a situation of autonomy that did not exclude independence. Not even this readjustment of the proposal was taken into account. PSOE and PNV answered with a second refusal that totally blocked the process. Batasuna keep on waiting for the promised contributions that never arrived. The interlocutors left the table and they have not returned.