EFAy welcomes the new international initiative for a peaceful solution to one of the last armed conflicts in Europe. EFAy together with the EFA party have been continuously following the developments in the Basque Country and promoting a non-violent solution to the conflict. As members of the European Parliament’s Basque Friendship group, the EFA MEPs have been actively raising important issues related to the situation in the Basque Country at EU level.
With this statement we would like to reaffirm our commitment to the Basque peace process and express our strong support to the new international declaration made at the international peace conference that took place on October 17th in Donostia/San Sebastian. The conference was attended by high profile delegates including ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland and former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern. Among other things, the declaration urges ETA to publicly declare a definitive end of violence and embark in a dialogue with the Spanish and French Government in order to address the consequences of the conflict.
In light of this declaration and following the experience of South Africa, we believe that establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Committee for the Basque Country would help in the process of reconciliation and healing the personal and social wounds from the past. Recognition of the harm that has been committed by both sides is necessary for the process of forgiving and building mutual trust to take place.
In order for true and long lasting peace to be established it is necessary to create a safe space for inclusive dialogue that will involve not only the representatives of the Spanish Government, Basque Government, ETA and the political parties active in the Basque Country but also members of the Basque and Spanish civil society. Open consultations with the citizenry will lead to a new era of positive peace, characterized not only by the absence of physical violence but also by the absence of structural and cultural violence and a true respect of the right to self-determination of the Basque people.
We must not forget that while we are facing a definitive cease of armed actions by ETA, there are still steps to be taken on the road to pacification in Euskal Herria. At this point we must not forget the work that is being carried out by the signatories of the Gernika Agreement, that the signing of the agreement by political parties, trade unions and social actors, and the vindication of the different points that appear in written, their steps towards the fulfillment and vindication of all rights for all people have been a constant.
This is a first step but not the last, and as a platform for young people in Europe we must not forget the outlawed youth organizations, the dozens of young people who are in prison awaiting a trial… examples and more examples of the need to resolve the situation in Euskal Herria. That is why we support the work done consistently by our member organization Gazte Abertzaleak in this direction, and we underline the impulse and the effort that it continues to give daily to the different political and social spheres of its activity.
Therefore, we call for active participation of young people in constructing the road to peace and finding a definite solution to the conflict.
As this is a matter of relevance for all Europeans, EFAy also calls on the EU to take an active role and facilitate the dialogue needed for ending permanently the violence in the Basque Country. The conflict can no longer be considered an internal issue of a Member State.
EFAy President Roccu Garoby said:
“Since its establishment, EFA Youth has always supported the peace process in the Basque country and it has always backed the Basque people in their fight for the recognition of their rights especially the self-determination one.
I would like to remind that although the European Union was created in order to give peace to all people living on its territory, the Basque country is the last space in Europe where Spain and France have been failing for decades. As the situation in the Basque country is changing, the Spanish and the French Governments should change as well and act positively to this new situation. Moreover, the European Union should take part in the peace process as it did in the Irish case few years ago.
The Basque people deserve to live in peace and the Basque youth should not be forgotten again.”