The process starting in 1993/4 exhausted the autonomous legal framework established by the state after the Spanish reform. The forces that had supported that framework for many years now considered it to be insufficient and in great need of reform. On the other hand, the antiterrorist Madrid Agreement and Ajuria Enea Agreements were cancelled and the marginalisation process of the patriotic left movement came to an end.

Faced with this, a social and political majority made up of progressive and nationalist forces determined, in a proper way, the key points of the conflict and its settlement. The Lizarra-Garazi Agreement helped to popularise the need for a process of dialogue and political negotiation, and highlighted the need to give the floor to the Basque people to decide their future.57 Several positive consequences can be highlighted:
• the potential of the abertzale left could be seen crystal clear;
• there was an increase in the confrontation between Euskal Herria and the states;
• the necessity that Euskal Herria needed its own path was acknowledged by the wider society;
• the lack of validity of the political frame was obvious;
• an explanation of the basis of the conflict was given and the more intricate issues that needed to be solved were identified;
• the greatest ever support in favour of a democratic solution was obtained with the Lizarra-Garazi Agreement;
• there was an increasing need for political change.

Important steps in the construction and creation of national structures (Udalbiltza) were taken, and it became possible to draw the map of Euskal Herria over the existing divisions in a manner that had not been done before.

However, the process was not able to move the progressive and nationalist forces towards a new scene. The political, media, judicial and repressive pressures of the state were not only exerted on the abertzale left, but also on all the progressive and nationalist forces. The EAJ-PNV’s lack of commitment to the change made it impossible to step into a democratic confrontation with the state. The conflict turned once again into an armed confrontation. The abertzale left did not prioritise challenging the EAJ-PNV’s hegemony and directing the process towards other channels. The abertzale left considered that it paid the bill for this failure, while the EAJ-PNV profited from the situation by taking hold of the central space. In addition, there were also internal problems arising from the lack of a sufficiently unified interpretation about the initiatives to be followed – should the abertzale left advocate for a ‘peace process’, or a ‘national building process’?

Finally, it is also important to stress two aspects of the role that armed activity played at that time, concerning the interpretation of the indefinite ceasefire (both in its starting point and its end), in relation to the route of the national liberation movement. Somehow, until then, the social base had believed that armed struggle would continue until some minimum rights were recognised.58 Thus, to the eyes of the abertzale left, the beginning of the ceasefire somehow put the armed struggle in a different light, that is, as a choice, not an essential requirement. Finally, regarding the end of the ceasefire, it was considered that ETA’s armed actions had generated a great shock, but did not have political complementarity. It became very difficult for the social base of the abertzale left to understand the strategic direction.

The Anoeta Proposal and the unfinished peace process

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57 Opinion polls indicated strong popular support for such measures. A comprehensive sociological investigation conducted in 1995 by the Elkarri organisation (social movement for dialogue and agreement) with assistance from teachers from the Public University of Navarre and the Public University of the Basque Country, showed that, for 90 % of Basque citizens, dialogue was seen as the proper way to achieve peace. In addition, only one out of ten citizens of the Basque Country were opposed to the recognition of the right to self-determination, and only one third were satisfied with the current degree of self-government.
58 The possibility of a ceasefire aimed at joining forces with other nationalists had already been put on the table at the Xiberta talks in 1977, but this option had had no effect on future generations.