The Mandela Foundation and four Peace Nobel price winners from South Africa and Ireland are pushing for peace negotiations in the conflict that confronts Basque militants and the Spanish state.
The group, coordinated by Brian Currin, includes Desmond Tutu, Frederick de Clerk, John Hume, Albert Reynolds, Betty Williams and Jonathan Powell, among others, including the Mandela Foundation. Currin presented yesterday at the European Parliament a proposal signed by 21 personalities, asking ETA to declare a cease-fire and the Spanish government to respond in accordance.
The declaration is available as video HERE (in English with Spanish subtitles) and as PDF text HERE.
Currin's presentation was backed by Flemish MEP Frieda Brepoels, who underlined that the Basque Nationalist Left has recently advocated in exclusive for non-violent peaceful means to achieve their goals. This was in turn emphasized by the South African facilitator, who declared that a document like Zutik Euskal Herria (Stand Basque Nation), recently backed by 270 grassroots assemblies of the Nationalist Left, is a clear message that they want a process that is irreversible.
Speaking as personal opinion, Currin answered journalists' questions, saying that Spain should guarantee that the Nationalist Left could run to elections and develop its activities normally and should also repatriate the Basque political prisoners. This would help a lot, he said.
Brepoels emphasized that the large group of personalities backing this document is a really impressive group and a demonstration that there is a lot of people who believes that this opportunity should not be missed.
My two cents: the Spanish conservatives prefer the war to continue.
This is of course an important advance and something that would not have surely happened unless there is already some sort of preliminary negotiations going on. The fact that, barring the inccident at Paris, ETA has not carried any attacks since summer 2009 and that the Basque Nationalist Left has carried on a participative process to approve a declaration seeking political means, declaration that was backed by ETA in a recent communication, indicate that there is clear political will in this camp.
What is less clear is what happens in the other camp: among the Spanish nationalist ranks, which has not made any conciliatory movement of any sort, rather the opposite.
And what is even more worrisome is that the Spanish conservatives (recycled fascists) are accusing the social-democrats of "connivence" with ETA in what is an obvious electoralist maneuver of the kind they style all the time. Even if the ruling PSOE would want (which is not clear at all) to get into some sort of negotiations, a petty division of this kind in the Spanish nationalist camp would probably ruin any chance of these advancing at all.
So if I'd have to bet, I'd bet for another failure, sincerely. However it's always worth a try.
See also: label: Basque politics.