Basque independentist armed organization ETA has issued a new communication after a year of their unilateral definitive end to armed struggle.
First of all, the guerrilla complains that, instead of what was promised in the Aiete Conference, the situation is degenerating because of the stubbornness of the Spanish and French governments.
It must be noted here that, among other actors, all three major French political parties (PS, UMP, MoDem) signed the Aiete Declaration, what should be as good as the French Republic itself. However their members with actual political power, such as Hollande or Sarkozy before him or the infamous interior Minister Valls, have been actually sabotaging the process, showing no word nor political honesty.
The Aiete Declaration was signed by most Basque and French political parties, most Basque and Spanish labor unions, as well as some other actors (notably the Basque Capitalist Syndicate Confebask and a number of international personalities who would act as facilitators) and reads as follows:
- We call upon ETA to make a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action and to request talks with the governments of Spain and France to address exclusively the consequences of the conflict.
- If such a declaration is made we urge the governments of Spain and France to welcome it and agree to talks exclusively to deal with the consequences of the conflict.
- We urge that major steps be taken to promote reconciliation, recognize, compensate and assist all victims, recognize the harm that has been done and seek to heal personal and social wounds.
- In our experience of resolving conflicts there are often other issues that, if addressed, can assist in the attainment of lasting peace. We suggest that non violent actors and political representatives meet and discuss political and other related issues, in consultation with the citizenry, that could contribute to a new era without conflict. In our experience third party observers or facilitators help such dialogue. Here, such dialogue could also be assisted by international facilitators, if that were desired by those involved.
- We are willing to form a committee to follow up these recommendations
ETA fulfilled point #1 exactly three days after this declaration was signed on October 17th 2011. We are still waiting for Madrid and Paris to do anything at all other than jailing people and rejecting the process upfront.
In this sense ETA says:
ETA wants to warn that in the future such attitudes can't but move us far from the solution and bring nothing but an extension of strife and suffering. And today as well they are risking to leave the process without exit.
ETA wants to underline the sterility of the repressive path. The states can destroy the chance of peace but that way they will not be able in any way to overcome the conflict. When their only offer is stubbornness and crude repression, when they do not offer democratic ways to overcome the political conflict, confrontation is being fed.
Pretty strong wording considering everything, even if quite obvious, because as everybody with any real interest on the matter knows ETA is not the conflict but a manifestation of it. Regardless of whatever ETA does or does not, the reality may well overwhelm them if the fundamentals of the conflict, or even the peace process itself, are not addressed, as is happening now.
Nevertheless, ETA continues the address asking the Basque People and the international community to increase all efforts to break the blockade against peace. In this sense they demand an specific agenda for peace, which should include:
- Response to the state of exception imposed to the Basque Nation: to repression, to withdrawal of rights and, very specially, to the situation of Basque prisoners.
- To make the clamor for peace heard until Madrid and Paris accept the will of this People.
- To create spaces of agreement and expand paths of dialogue.
All very abstract and generic if you ask me.
However the make three warnings on top of this agenda:
- Nobody is in prison (anymore) for the terrorist crimes of the State (torture, dirty war, killings of ETA members). However ETA does not demand the State to ask for forgiveness in order to move forward (some Spanish nationalist actors wield this "ask for forgiveness" rhetoric towards ETA, as pretext for their stagnation).
- Because of ETA's struggle some people felt the need to abandon the Basque Country. ETA feels that, since their end-to-war decision, that issue is already in the way of solution (another pretext that is unreal).
- ETA is ready to introduce the issue of victim-culprit conciliation processes in the agenda of the peace process (i.e. ETA is willing to work the part of truth behind those pretexts).
Said all that, ETA remains waiting for the Spanish and French states to take steps for advancement in the peace process outlined in Aiete, being in their opinion the only real way to advance towards peace.
Source: original communication in Basque language at Gara. Those fluent in Spanish may want to read this synthesis in the same newspaper.
Note: besides the Basque, French and Spanish actors mentioned above, a number of international political personalities also promoted and signed the Aiete Conference and Declaration they are:
- Kofi Anan (former UN Secretary General)
- Jonathan Powell (former Chief of Staff under Tony Blair, Great Britain)
- Pierre Joxe (former defense and interior minister of France, also former member of the State Council of this republic)
- Bertie Ahern (former Taoiseach of the Irish Republic)
- Gro-Harlem Brundlant (former Prime Minister of Norway)
- Gerry Adams (President of the Sinn Féin, all-Ireland nationalist party)