The Brussels Declaration, ICG and IVC
The international community has played an important role in this process. The first public commitment towards the resolution of the conflict was the so called Brussels Declaration, a declaration endorsed by a score of prominent international leaders including among others President F. W. De Klerk, John Hume, Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela Foundation. In this declaration endorsers “welcomed and commended” the decision of Abertzale Left, and appealed ETA to support this commitment and to the Spanish government to appropriately respond to it.
On March 2011 and following a series of meetings with most of the parties in the Basque Country, Brian Currin promoted the creation of the International Contact Group. A group of international experts on conflict resolution whose mandate is to facilitate the dialogue process among the parties. This group is formed by Raymond Kendall, Nuala O’Loan, Silvia Casale, Pierre Hazan and Alberto Spektorowsky.
On September 2011 the International Verification Commission for the ceasefire in the Basque Country (IVC) was presented to contribute to the verification of ETA’s ceasefire through a serious and rigorous process, this Commission is formed by: Ronnie Kasrils, Ray Kendall, Chris Maccabe, Ram Manikkalingam and Lieutenant General Satish Nambiar; the Coordinator of the IVC is Fleur Ravensbergen.
Aiete and Mexico DF – International support for the process
On the 17th October 2011 an “International Conference to promote the resolution of the conflict in the Basque Country” took place in Donostia’s House of Peace. The initiative was endorsed and driven by the following international organizations: Berghof Foundation, Conciliation Resources, Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, The Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF), the above-mentioned International Contact Group and Lokarri, Basque Citizen Network For Agreement and Consultation.
The meeting was chaired by Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Bruntland, Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams, Pierre Joxe and Jonathan Powell, and their recommendations were subsequently endorsed by Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and George Mitchell.
The panel made a public declaration including the following recommendations:
- 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.
On the second anniversary of the Aiete declaration important Latin American personalities, 13 former presidents of diverse Latin American countries among them, expressed their support to the Declaration of Aiete and their willingness to develop activities that help carry it out. They held a conference in Mexico DF to make public their support.
International initiatives have shown their support and-or concern for the ongoing situation. Nearly a hundred members of the Swiss and European Parliaments have supported the Aiete declaration. A Members Motion and an Early Day Motion were presented in the Scottish and British parliaments.
The Finnish Parliament hosted an event on December 2012 with Brian Currin, facilitator for the political dialogue in the Basque Country, as key-note speaker. The event was open by Johannes Koskinen, SDP; chaired by Elisabeth Nauclér and closed by Paavo Arhinmäki, Minister for the Left-Alliance.
The Greens-EFA group in the European Parliament hosted an event to discuss the issue of prisoners in March 2013 and “On the Path to Peace” an International Initiative on the issue, was launched by a number of renowned Lawyers and Human Rights activists.
Several events took place in Latin America (Uruguay, Argentina, Ecuador…) to support the Aiete Conference and in March 2015 a new initiative was launched to ask for the release of Arnaldo Otegi, who was released in March 2016.
In 2017 Peace Artisans (Basque civil society representatives) handed the list of 8 weapons dumps that contained ETA’s full arsenal to the International Verification Commission, IVC; Archbishop of Bolonia Matteo María Zuppi and Reverend Harold Good witnessed the exchange. The IVC handed the data to relevant French authorities and made a public statement to verify that ETA had fully disarmed.