Basque leader urges separation from Spain
Wednesday 02 February 2005
"I have come here to defend the right of the Basque people to define their future," Mr Ibarretxe said, as he put forward his plan for "free association" with Spain. "We come with our hand outstretched; don't spurn it. This is a democratic proposal, open to negotiation," he insisted.
The plan, which proposes a Basque legal system and representation in international bodies, is backed by the region's autonomous parliament, although an important regional minority opposes it.
Yesterday was the first time a Basque leader had addressed MPs in Madrid since the end of Franco's dictatorship 30 years ago and, for Spain's political class, it was an important moment. Mr Ibarretxe developed his blueprint as the only political option to end Eta separatist violence. "No one has damaged the Basque people more than the violent barbarity of Eta," he said. But the odds were stacked against Mr Ibarretxe, since Madrid's ruling Socialists and the opposition Popular Party opposed the plan as unconstitutional, and it was expected to be defeated by about 300 votes.
The Prime Minister, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, rejected the plan but opened the door to a broader agreement that could reconcile Basques' desire for more self-rule with Spain's definition as a regionally diverse state. "Your aspirations for greater areas of self-government are possible through dialogue," Mr Zapatero said.
The expected "no" vote "will not be a victory, and should not be interpreted by anybody as a defeat," Mr Zapatero said. Yesterday's debate "did not mark the end of the plan but the start of a new project for Euskadi and Spain as a whole".
The conciliatory tone of both main speakers yesterday was notable and perhaps suggests that a process of haggling and arm-twisting is now about to begin. Mr Zapatero wants all Basque parties to get together and hammer out a common position on the reform of their autonomy statute.
History of the world according to the Basques, page 22-23
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Syrian refugee child beaten by Istanbul Burger King manager for eating customer’s leftover food
Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Rob Lowe hits out at White House decision not to meet Israeli leader
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign
Winston Churchill: From accusations of anti-Semitism to the blunt refusal that led to the deaths of millions
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...
Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...
£15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...