The Basque Country:
The Basque Country (Euskal Herria) is divided in two states and three main institutional bodies: The Basque Autonomous Community, CAV, and Foral Community of Navarre, CFN, in the Spanish State and in part of the 64th Department (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) of the French state. The Basque Country covers 20.947 km2 and counted in 2010 with a population of 3.106.000 people.
The permanent denial of the Basque Country by France and Spain has encountered varied forms of response and national self-affirmation. The answer ranged from collective disobedience to an armed response to Spanish and French structural violence. In this context, the political conflict has adopted forms of open and bloody confrontation for generations. Since 1959 ETA, put up and armed struggle for Independence and Socialism for the Basque Country.
The current process:
After more than 50 years of armed confrontation and 3 collapsed peace processes, (Algiers ’89, Lizarra-Garazi ’99 and Loiola ’07) the Abertzale Left decided to start a unilateral process in 2009 to achieve a lasting and just peace.
As a result of this decision ETA declared a ceasefire and later on announced the definitive cessation of its armed activity. This process has been supported by Basque Society and International agents.
On the one hand Basque Society has supported the process; on the last elections the pro-independence left coalitions (Bildu, Amaiur and EH Bildu) have obtained over 25% of the votes becoming the second political party and there have been huge demonstrations against repression and for Basque Political Prisoners’s Rights (130.000 people in Bilbao, January 2014)
On the other hand the International Community has plaid a vey important role, through the constitution of an International Contact Group to facilitate dialogue among Basque Parties, an International Verification Commission to assess ETA’s fulfillment of its commitments and foremost through the International Conference of Aiete that led to the Declaration of Aiete.
The Aiete Declaration:
On the 17th October 2011 Kofi Annan, Gro Harlem Bruntland, Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams, Pierre Joxe and Jonathan Powell, presented the Aiete Declaration that was subsequently endorsed by Tony Blair, Jimmy Carter and George Mitchell. The Declaration made 4 recommendations for the resolution of the conflict.
The declaration asked ETA to put an end to the armed campaign, which ETA did 3 days later; asked the Spanish and French Governments to dialogue with ETA about the consequences of the conflict; called Basque society to address the suffering of all victims and called Basque parties to address the roots of the conflict.
The Current Situation:
The Spanish and French governments have refused to enter any kind of dialogue with ETA about the consequences of the conflict and have tried to block and hinder the process by putting pressure on the prisoners and persecuting solidarity initiatives and political activists.
The Spanish and French states have even refused any kind of dialogue to deal with ETA’s disarmament, despite ETA’s clear willingness on that sense.
However Basque society has kept supporting the process and on the last Elections on the Basque Autonomous Community (October ’12) EH Bildu obtained 21 seats out of 75 while the Spanish Conservative PP only obtained 10.
Civil Society initiatives as the Social Forum organised in March 2013 and June 2014 and its recommendations open a new way forward to overcome the blockade.