Sat Mar 25th, 2006 at 05:28:12 AM EST
More than 80 % of Spaniards believe that the Spanish government should explore routes for dialouge with the Basque armed seperatist group ETA according to a poll release by Spanish radio conglomerate Cadena Ser on Friday. PSOE, the Spanish socialists, rose 3% compared to their performace in the last poll conducted March 16, showing lead of 9 % against the PP, the conservative opposition. Even more striking was the revalation that the public belives that the primary obligation of the PP in the Basque peace process is to support the position of the PSOE government.
What do you belive is the obligation of the PP, the principal opposition, and by extension the rest of the political parties?
To support the government, giving a vote of confidence: 85.7%
To oppose [the government] because the ETA communique is insufficient: 8.5%
Don't know: 5.1%
No answer: 0.7%
From the diaries ~ whataboutbob
As noted by Migeru earlier the PP and their allies in the EPP have made clear that they find the current ETA communique, in which they show themeselves profoundly out of touch. Migeru has also pointed out the efforts to link the Catalan Estatut and ETA have already started, and statements by the Secretary General of ERC (Catalan left nationalist party) that the text of the Estatut should be revisited in light of the recent ETA announcement, presumably to include the term "nation", have not been helpful in this context. One thing that is certain is that the apparent end to arms in the Basque country removes one of the principal objections to a renegotiation of the state of the Spanish autonomies.
While the ERC has foolishly tried to build upon the uncertain foundation of the nascent Basque peace process, the most explosive (figuratively ... one hopes...) developments are likely to occur in the Basque country.
"A democratic solution to the conflict"
While the ETA announcment is a huge step forward, this is no guarantee that there will be no more Basque terrorism. The organization has fractured several times in the recent past. The experience with the Provisional IRA in Northern Ireland shows that accords reached with the directorate of the organization can't prevent extremists from breaking with the peacemakers. The good news is that the the criminal infrastructure of ETA is much more limited than that of the IRA, with full time militants numbering less than a hundred. With so few trapped in terrorism as a career, the morphing of the terrorist organization into criminal sydicate stripped of ideological pretensions much less likely than in Northern Ireland. This is the good news, the bad news is that the Spanish and French states in capturing the leadership of ETA means that the core of the organization, that could bring the whole to the table to make peace has been compromised. Ironic, yes. Tragic, one can hope not....
In their statement, ETA makes clear that it is their expectation that an end to arms will lead to a full normialization of politics in the Basque country.
The aim of this decision is to promote a democratic process in Euskal-Herria (the Basque Country) in order that the Basque people might implement the political change they need through dialogue, negotiation and agreement.
Leaving behind the current framework of negation, partition and imposition, a democratic framework must be built for Euskal-Herria, recognising the rights as a people which are its due and guaranteeing the opportunity to develop all political options in the future.
At the end of this process, Basque citizens must have the say and the decision on their future, thus giving a democratic solution to the conflict.
Eta considers that it is for all Basque agents to develop this process and to adopt the appropriate agreements for the future of Euskal-Herria, taking into account its plurality and its totality.
"Democratic solution" is a very clever euphemism for something that is likely to prove highly divisive, an independence referendum. Basque premier Juan Jose Ibarratxe invited all parties in the Basque country to a roundtable discussion on the development of the Basque peace process that his PNV (Basque Nationalist Party) has said should be distinguished from the negotiation between Madrid and ETA.
Basque leader Josu Jon Imaz stated it is necessary to mark "a temporary distance" between Basque armed group ETA-Spanish government negotiations and the creation of a parties' table. In addition to this, he pointed out that talks on the release of prisoners cannot be carried out while violence "belongs to present", demanding the Basque Premier Juan José Ibarretxe to "play part" in the multi-party forum to be created, but not conditioning political dialogue.
Imaz agreed with the Spanish PM José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero that "self-determinism" or political affairs "cannot be negotiated with ETA." Following that, Imaz refused to advance whether the right to decide about self-determinism will be tackled at the parties' table.
Any normalization of the political situation in the Basque country supposes that Batasuna, ETA's political wing (akin to the relationship between Sinn Fein and the IRA) will be an active particpant in these discussions, and with the PP unlikely to sit down at this roundtable the situation is created where the PNV with the support of Batasuna, the IU-EB (United Left, reconstructed communists), and possibily PSE (the PSOE affiliate in the Basque country) can have another go at the autonomy referendum proposed by Ibarratxe (others called it an indepence plan, it envisioned a Basque state affiliated to Spain encompassing Alava, Guizpucoa, Visacaya, Navarra, and 3 French provinces (Lapurdi, Basee Navarre, and Zuberoa.)
That's right, Ibarratxe envisioned Bayonne and Biarritz as part of a Greater Euzkadi, the basque homeland. There is exactly zero chance that Lapurdi and the French Pays Basque will have any part in a Basque state, however the status of Navarra is more questionable. Ironically, in the 3 Basque provinces an independence referendum would likely be very, very close. If Navarra votes as well, it stands a referendum stands no chance for victory. Taken on a province by province basis, independence would almost certainly win in Guiouzcoa, would likely win in Vizcaya, and would almost certainly go to defeat in Alava. Thus, the format of any proposed referendum would be vital in interpreting its outcome, and with peace at vote offering the status quo, greater autonomy, and independence is likely. The likely end result is that there will be greatly expanded autonomy short of independence for the Basque country. The disposition of the EU towards the admission of an independent Basque state would also have a huge impact on any vote.
The honeymoon is going to end soon, and the realization that dialogue means concessions from both parties has not yet been realized in Spain. Once ETA asks for the release of imprisoned members and an independence referendum the poltical situation in Spain will change dramatically. Zapatero has thus far tamed the passions around the subject of Basque terrorism, but there is a hard core in the PP that opposes any recognition that Spain is a single state inhabited by many nations. There's been a rising tide of discontent in the Spanish right since the election of Zapatero. Negotiation with ETA will only inflame them more, and the possibility exist that to confront concessions designed to end the terrorists threat from ETA, the factions in the Spanish right wing may resort to terrorist tactics themselves. If thse involved members of the armed forces, this only raises the stakes. The concept of irony is clearly lost upon the Spanish right.