The Lehendakari Juan José Ibarretxe -the position is for life- has reappeared this Friday afternoon at the Kursaal in Donostia in a forum promoted on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the end of ETA accompanied among others by the former Catalan president Quim Torra and the leader of Ómnium Cultural y express Jordi Cuixart. In the talk, little was said about terrorism – practically nothing, in fact – and a lot about independence and the right to decide. “The only way to resolve political problems is to do so democratically. It is not negotiable that the Catalan, Scottish, Quebecois and Basque people have the right to decide. What is possible is to agree on their exercise,” proclaimed an applauded Ibarretxe by an audience at 50% and who has been said to be a militant not of the PNV but of the “Basque national movement.” Of course, he has clarified that he prefers to express his opinion with “humility” because he was unsuccessful with his proposal to overcome the Basque Statute and because he was president “in the Middle Ages.” The question – it has been asked – is “how to agree with an empty chair”, which is how the refusal of Spain to secessionist referenda has been described.
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The round table, which was also attended by Amalur Álvarez, spokesperson for the Gure Esku Dago platform, and Stephen Gethins, former adviser to Scottish chief ministers Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, was the last act in Donostia of the conference organized by the Forum Permanent Social ten years after the Aiete conference, which was a landing strip for ETA to communicate the end of the violence a few days later. In the audience was the PNV spokesperson in the Basque Parliament and leader in Gipuzkoa, Joseba Egibar, who is also the representative of the party’s most sovereign wing. With him, the mayor of Donostia and the general deputy of Gipuzkoa, Eneko Goia and Markel Olano, respectively. The EH Bildu spokesperson, Maddalen Iriarte, and many other officials from the nationalist coalition, such as the mayor in 2011, Juan Karlos Izagirre, have also joined. In the last rows, more discreetly, David Pla, one of the last heads of ETA and who is credited with reading that 2011 statement, listened to the speakers. This week he offered an interview to TV3.
Ibarretxe, in Spanish after a very brief introduction in Basque, has offered a speech without papers and in which he has considered that his stage as Lehendakari between 1998 and 2009 meant at least raising the importance of self-determination to the “base camp” of the political agenda . He has assured that perhaps 50% of society can agree with Basque independence but that he is sure that more than 70% would support the “democratic principle” of being able to vote for it. Moreover, he has ironized that the two processes that have been agreed in the West, that of Quebec in Canada and that of Scotland in the United Kingdom, were settled by verifying “majorities in favor of the union” and not of the rupture. And he added with a football metaphor: “I have respect for the Spanish people, for their symbols. I have appreciation for the people of the Spanish people: they are good people. But I am Basque. I am glad when my friends in Spain are happy with the Red. But I have the right to do the same with Green. ” “Democracy is not counting votes. It is taking the votes into account,” he also emphasized.
Torra was not in Donostia, but in Girona. He has intervened by video call and his image has been projected on a giant screen of about fifteen square meters. He has appeared trying to offer an institutional image: in a suit and tie, in a room with a white and neutral background and accompanied by a ‘senyera’. Sometimes he has read the notes that he had prepared. His message has been very strong in defense of unilateralism in Catalonia and against the dialogue table promoted by his successor, Pere Aragonès, and the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, although at the same time he has allowed himself to secretly criticize United We can by making “opposition” to the Executive of which it is part.
“Unilateral secession is not a prohibited secession,” he said at the start. He has also pointed out that “Catalonia suffers a tax pillage of 17,000 million every year” which leaves obsolete fire trucks and “indecent” salaries for teachers. “Rodalies is a disaster. We have a neighborhood services,” he denounced. And he also added: “Francoist structures survive [en el Estado español]. The response of the PSOE does not change anything to that of the PP. No, never ever to self-determination. Calling a dialogue table what is a photo of political conviction does not help Catalonia and even less the international story. Date, conditions and how we are going to hold the referendum is one thing, but a table without mediators or international rapporteurs is not very credible. “Torra has also considered that the independence movement has only failed to” defend “the results of October 1, in” to have gone to the last consequences in his defense “.
The previous ‘president’ recalled that he already participated in an event in Donostia in 2018, when he was in office. When the documents accumulated by the lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, during his mediation in Catalonia to prevent unilateral independence and 155, emerged an email that he sent to Sánchez showing his displeasure at the visit. “I see myself in the situation of accepting the meeting and receiving it,” he told the president.The PNV that Egibar represents has applauded Torra in 2021.
Cuixart has also argued that in Catalonia “it makes very little sense to go to negotiating tables if there is not a shared strategy from the sovereignist front”. He has assured that the ‘procés’ should learn from how the international community got involved in Aiete with the end of ETA – Kofi Annan, Jonathan Powell or Brian Currin, among others – participated in order to internationalize the cause. However, he has assured that the great value of October 2017 was the push by civil society against the parties, the success that two and a half million people put “a piece of paper in a plastic box” despite the ‘no’ of the Constitutional Court and the police presence. “We don’t want to be sovereign tourists,” Álvarez said with admiration for Catalonia, and announced that Gure Esku Dago is already collaborating with the Cuixart entity and with the ANC to take advantage of “opportunities” and activate a “new Basque wave”.
Source: ElDiario.es – ElDiario.es by www.eldiario.es.
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