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Home > International Relations in an Emerging Multi Lateral World > Conflict Resolution > Basque - Lizarra Declaration, 1998 et al

Conflict Resolution
in an Emerging Multi Lateral World

Basque Conflict Resolution

[see also the Basque Country]

The Lizarra Declaration - 12 September 1998 "...neither of the two sides would win a military victory and due to this...the conflict could go on for a long time if nothing was done to alter this situation..."
Agreement for the Normalisation and Pacification of the Basque Country, 12 January 1998  "...The fight against terrorism is, above all, the struggle of right against wrong, of life against death, of freedom against imposition..."
Democratic Alternative for the Basque Country, 26 April 1995 "...A solution based on the recognition to the Basque population of some universally accepted rights: the right to self-determination, and the territorial unity..."
Paradiplomacy and Stateless Nations: A reference to the Basque Country  "...The first Basque government (1936-1939) sent delegations abroad and had contacts with foreign governments, diplomats and other interlocutors in the context of the Spanish Civil War..."

The Lizarra declaration - September 12, 1998

Pacification 
Factors which have propitiated the peace agreement in Northern Ireland 
Potential application in the Basque Country. 

Factors which have propitiated the peace agreement in Northern Ireland

1.- All the parties involved have accepted the origins and political nature of the conflict and consequently the fact that this must be resolved by political means.

2.- The British government and the I.R.A. were aware that neither of the two sides would win a military victory and due to this, accepted the fact that that the conflict could go on for a long time if nothing was done to alter this situation.

3.- Thanks to the better judgement of all the protagonists in the conflict, confrontation gave way to collaboration (firstly among those with similar but different standpoints, later between opposing sides and finally, between enemies), with the determination not to exclude anyone from these discussions.

4.- Among the variety of considerations that have come out of the conflict, one that is of special relevance is the republican movement’s long-standing conception of constructing and backing a model to resolve the conflict that would respect all the traditions existing on the island. This contributed to reducing the resistance of those who favoured exclusive dialogues or isolationist policies.

5. Slowly, a sense of dialogue and the easing of tension which came about as a result of these talks replaced the violence and isolationist policies which had dominated the political scene until then. Both sides in the conflict showed signs of goodwill without setting rigid conditions in order to begin talks.

6- The recognition of the right to self-determination of all the citizens of Northern Ireland has involved an intensification of their democratic rights both in content (creating new formulas of sovereignty) and form (giving the citizens of Northern Ireland the final say). The political characteristics of the peace agreement include the idea that the negotiations have taken place not with the intention of winning the conflict, but of resolving this. All the political traditions existing on the island have been included and all the political projects have been afforded the same chance of success, without any limitation other than the backing of the democratic majority.

7.- Several international factors have played a significant role: The firm support and direct participation of the government and President of the United States in the resolution of the conflict; the acceptance of several Institutions of the European Union (a clear example of this is the substantial economic aid which has been promised), as well as the political support and advice offered by the government and President of South Africa throughout the process.

Potential application in the Basque Country.

In accordance with the characteristics of the peace process and agreement in Ireland, we consider that it may be possible to find a way to resolve the conflict that affects the Basque Country if the following guidelines of conduct and action are adhered to:

IDENTIFICATION

The origins of the Basque conflict are historical. It is a political conflict in which the Spanish State and the French State are implicated. It must be resolved by political means.

There are discrepancies concerning the roots of the conflict and its continuance, expressed in the concepts of a) territoriality, b) a determination of who has the right to take decisions in this matter and c) political sovereignty. These constitute the basic questions that must be resolved.

METHOD

The political resolution of the conflict will become a reality only through a process of dialogue and open negotiation. There will be no exclusions as to who will be involved in the discussions and these will have the participation of all sectors of Basque society.

PROCESS

Preliminary stage

In order to propitiate a favourable outcome for the talks, the process of dialogue and negotiation may be assisted by multilateral conversations that do not set insurmountable preliminary conditions on those involved in the conflict.

Settlement stage

The process of negotiation and resolution in the proper sense of the word, which involves goodwill and the undertaking to deal with the causes of the conflict, will be carried out under conditions that ensure the permanent absence of all expressions of violence from the conflict.

NATURE OF THE NEGOTIATIONS

Negotiations must be all-embracing in the sense that they must deal with and respond to all the central issues of the conflict, as well as those which have arisen as a consequence of this. In this sense, negotiations must not be conceived as a process for the advancement of individual interests but as a means to resolve the conflict.

KEYS TO THE RESOLUTION

This means that all negotiations held to resolve the conflict must be free of any specific impositions. The plurality of Basque society must be respected, all political projects must be provided with the same chances of success, the democratic rights of the citizens of the Basque Country must be intensified in the sense that they are to be given the final say as to the shaping of their future and the States involved in the conflict must respect any decision that may be taken. The Basque Country must make its voice heard and decide.

RESULTING SCENARIO

The agreement to resolve the dispute shall not contain rigid frameworks of a definitive nature, but shall enable the creation of frameworks open to any new formulas that respond to the traditions and aspirations to sovereignty of the citizens of the Basque Country.

Signatories to the Declaration

AB, HB, PNV, EA, IU, BATZARRE ZUTIK, ELA, LAB, EHNE, ESK-CUIS, STEE-EILAS, EZKER SINDIKALA, HIRU, GOGOA, AMNISTIAREN ALDEKO BATZORDEAK, SENIDEAK, BAKEA ORAIN, ELKARRI, EGIZAN, HERRIA 2000 ELIZA, CERNIKA BATZORDEA, AUTO- DETERMINAZIOREN BILTZARRAK.


Agreement for the normalisation and Pacification of the Basque Country, 1998

January 12, 1988

Almost eleven years after the first democratic elections, the phenomenon of terrorism remains with us. So, clearly, eradicating terrorism continues to be a major objective for all our institutions and democratic agents. The fight against terrorism is, above all, the struggle of right against wrong, of life against death, of freedom against imposition. It is the effort made to ensure that the ethical principles on which coexistence in a civilised society is based prevail over those who deny them.

The recovery of democratic freedoms and, in particular, the approval via referendum of the Statute of Gernika, were two decisive events that brought about a radical change in the political situation in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country.

From this perspective, the political parties signing this agreement wish to stress the fact that any reference made in the AGREEMENT to the political problems in the Basque Country, to the development of the Statute, or to the relations the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country may have with the Community of Navarra, may in no case be understood as an attempt to justify terrorism nor as a condition, compensation or exchange for the ending of terrorist violence, which lacks any kind of justification in this society. The Basque political parties’ condemnation and rejection of ETA is based on the legitimacy conferred on them by their democratic, peaceful defence of the principle of self-government for our people.

Because the Statute of Gernika - itself the result of long and, at times, arduous negotiations, which eventually led to a genuine pact between the representatives of the Assembly of Basque Parliamentarians and those from the Constitutional Commission of the Spanish Parliament - is the focal point of the will of the majority of the Basques and the legal framework which Basque society, at a particular historical juncture, provided itself with to gain access to self-government and to regulate its peaceful coexistence. It therefore represents the legitimately endorsed expression of the will of the Basques and is also an unprecedented achievement in their contemporary history, despite the fact that it does not satisfy each and every one of the claims made by a number of different sectors representing the broad range of society’s interests.

The text of the Statute also contains the mechanisms, duly endorsed by the democratic expression of the people’s will, required for its reform. Further, as an expression of the respect for and acknowledgement of the aspirations to self-government the Basques have held throughout their history, in an Additional Disposition, the Statute expressly reserves the rights to which the Basques might have been entitled to by virtue of their history. The Additional Disposition also states that the acceptance by the Basques of the present system of autonomy does not mean that they thereby relinquish their claim to have those rights updated, through the expression of their will at each moment and in accordance with the stipulations of the legal system.

Thanks to the positive dispositions it contained and these reservations, together with the First Additional Disposition and the possibilities offered by Article 150.2 of the Spanish Constitution, the Basques accepted that the Statute of Gernika was a valid instrument for the gradual satisfaction of their aspirations and endorsed it by an ample majority.

Some sectors that had continued to use violence to achieve their political ends also understood the novelty of the situation created by the approval of the Statute and abandoned the use of violence and decided to go into normal political activity within the framework approved by the majority.

Today, however, eight years after the approval of the Statute, certain sectors continue to use violence against the will of the majority - clearly and repeatedly expressed by the Basques - as a means of imposing alternative political models that have still not been given coherent political form and which have won no more than minority support in all elections held.

Besides being a particularly dramatic expression of intolerance and sectarianism, besides being a demonstration of unacceptable contempt for the will of the majority and an attack on the fundamental rights of the individual, the illegitimate and reprehensible use of violence continues to have disastrous consequences for Basque society in moral, social, political and economic terms. The substantial distortion and deterioration of these aspects of our civil society is the only practical result of such violence.

Further, however useful it might be with regard to achieving the stated objectives of those who practice it, in a country endowed with democratic institutions such as ours, political violence has been shown to be not only inefficient but actively prejudicial to the achievement of the self-government to which the Basques aspire, and has in fact become one of the major obstacles to the fulfilment of that aspiration.

In March 1985, in a set of specific circumstances, the Basque Parliament adopted a firm stance against the use of violence for the achievement of political ends, thus denying any possibility that such violence could supplant the will of the people.

Today it is a source of no little satisfaction to observe that in Basque society the desire for definitive pacification is widespread and growing increasingly strong. Calls for an end to terrorism are more and more frequent, as are the invitations to all sectors, from their legitimately divergent positions, to take part in the gradual resolution by democratic and institutional means of the serious problems facing the country.

Basque society, which has opted by a clear majority for the Statute, is now fully aware of the fact that it must not let either political violence or the positions of those who defend or justify such violence condition their democratic, majority-backed stance. So the persistence in the use of violence is neither an argument for attempting to win higher levels of self-government than those democratically approved, nor a brake to the full satisfaction of their majority-endorsed aspirations, because either attitude would lead to a failure of confidence in democracy.

Fully persuaded, therefore, that respect for the will of the people is the only way to the normalisation and pacification of Basque society, we appeal to those who continue to use or justify violence to lay down their arms, in respect for the clear will of the people, and to take part in institutional activity, thereby legitimising them to defend their political views peacefully and democratically.

We make this appeal on the clear understanding that these democratic channels are the only ones that will lead to the solution of the problems now facing Basque society. In this regard, the progress made in the Basque Country since the approval and implementation of the Statute is clear. Such progress has been possible thanks to a general willingness to talk and negotiate. 

At the same time, we cannot ignore the concern produced in some areas of Basque society which feel that neither the pace nor all of the contents of the Statute’s implementation are exactly what were expected when the Statute was signed.

This concern, which by no means invalidates either the solid progress made in the last eight years, or the democratic methods by which such progress has been achieved, should encourage us to become more open to dialogue and agreement, as being the most efficient way of settling political conflicts and of maintaining the confidence placed in the Statute.

In this sense, the parties to the present AGREEMENT undertake to work in an underlying climate of dialogue and consensus to orient the interpretation and application of the Statute. This way, those who believed in the efficiency of the Statute as a means of solving the Basque problem, and who believed in the solution of the outstanding issues through the full implementation of the Statute, will have their confidence renewed.

So the undersigned Parties hereby approve the following Agreement for the normalisation and Pacification of the Basque Country, 1998:

1. The cornerstone of the democratic state governed by the rule of law is the sovereignty of the people’s will, as expressed through the system of free suffrage. This Parliament therefore rejects the use of violence as is currently occurring in the Basque Country on the understanding that, besides being an ethically execrable practice with disastrous consequences of all kinds for our country, it is also the most dramatic expression of intolerance, of absolute disdain for the will of the people and a major obstacle to the fulfilment of the aspirations of Basque citizens. In this sense, we fully reaffirm the unanimous Resolution on violence approved by this Parliament on March 14, 1985, and insist, once again, that those who practice such violence are not legitimated to express the will of the Basque people. We also reject their claim to negotiate political problems as such negotiation can only take place between the legitimate representatives of the people’s will.

2.a. The Statute of Gernika represents the expression of the will of the majority of the citizens of the Basque Country and is, therefore, the basic institutional regulation governing access to self-government, so that accepting or observing the Statute is a necessary condition for achieving definitive normalisation and pacification.

2.b. The full, fair implementation of absolutely all the contents of the Statute continues to be the valid framework for the progressive resolution of the conflicts of Basque society and will contribute decisively to the strengthening of confidence in democracy and peaceful coexistence, and so all the signatories of the present AGREEMENT undertake to implement it fully, in accordance with the principles that inspired it and respecting its singularity. To this effect, through either a specific parliamentary commission or the Institutional Commission of the Basque Parliament itself, the Basque Parliament shall proceed to establish, in a climate of agreement and understanding on the essential issues, and with the highest degree of consensus possible, Parliament’s criteria on achieving the full implementation of the Statue.

2.c. Any judgement regarding the validity or otherwise of the Statute as an instrument of self-government, and any decisions, where necessary or appropriate, on the need to reform or implement the Statute through the procedures contained therein or in the Constitution, is a matter for the majority will of the people exercised through their legitimate representatives, and not the will of those who attempt to impose their criteria on society as a whole through violent or totalitarian means. The same people are likewise legitimated to reclaim any right that might be their due under the First Additional Disposition of the Constitution and the Sole Additional Disposition of the Statute.

2.d. Unlike those who want Navarra to form part of the Basque autonomous system regardless of the will of the institutions and the people of Navarra, we declare that the citizens of Navarra alone have the right to decide their own future.

The democratic framework within which the various political options regarding Navarra and the Basque Autonomous Community may work towards their objectives is provided by the Spanish Constitution, the Statute of Gernika and the Law on the Reintegration and Improvement of the Political System of Navarra, all of which allow for the incorporation of Navarra into the Basque autonomous system if the citizens of Navarra so decide, for the signing of agreements on the management and provision of their own services and for co-operation agreements.

Taking account of the fact that the relationship with the Foral Territory of Navarra is an aspiration shared by large sectors of Basque society, the Parties to this AGREEMENT, in accordance with current legislation, shall work, together with the institutions of Navarra, to intensify this relationship and create instruments that respond to our affinity and common interests.

3. The Government of the Autonomous Community, with the active support of the representatives of the Basques, must take the lead in any political and social action against violence for the achievement of peace.

We understand that a stable agreement between the Government of the Autonomous Community and the Spanish Government leading to co-ordinated action to fight terrorism is urgently required and that under such co-ordinated action the Basque Government should progressively assume more responsibility in this issue, in accordance with the unanimous Agreement of the Basque Parliament of October 16, 1987, and with the implementation of Art. 17 of the Statute of Autonomy.

4. In the face of the systematic violation of the principles shaping democratic coexistence, and particularly of the right to life, and in defence of a democratic solution that respects human rights against the problem of violence, we agree on the need and importance of police action in the eradication of terrorism, the protection of such principles, the prevention of terrorist attacks and the persecution of the authors of such attacks.

5. We hereby declare our belief that international collaboration between governments and legal powers is vital if violence is to be eradicated, if the perpetration of new terrorist attacks is to be prevented and impunity denied anyone who has committed, or who commits in the future, such attacks, and that such collaboration must respect the principles governing international relations and the respect for human rights.

6. We hereby undertake to ensure that the necessary defence of the rule of law against violent attack is always performed in accordance with the strictest respect for legality and human rights in general, and we consider that we are legitimated to denounce, with the same conviction with which we condemn all violence, any cases where violations of this principle may have occurred.

7. Since the division in our society between the majority of us opting for democratic and statutory channels and those who continue to use violence can only be healed as a result of the cessation of such violence, we appeal to all those who continue to use it to pay heed to the majority will of the people and renounce the use of such violence as an instrument of political action and join in the common task of finding, through the channels accepted by the majority, the most suitable instruments for satisfying the shared aspirations of Basque society.

8. We likewise call upon those who, while possessing parliamentary representation, do not exercise the rights and duties inherent to such representation, to assume, just as the other political forces do, their institutional responsibilities and use them to defend their own political proposals. In this sense, the legitimacy of all democratically expressed political ideas can be defended within the parliamentary framework, which may also incorporate, where appropriate, political claims into the legal system.

9. As a result of the resolutions adopted unanimously by the Basque Parliament, we consider valid and therefore give our support to the means of assimilating into society those persons that decide or have decided to abandon the use of violence and to defend their ideas through democratic channels, respecting in each case the decisions adopted by the state institutions with competencies in this regard.

10. If suitable conditions arise for a negotiated end to the violence, grounded in a clear willingness to put an end to such violence and in unequivocal attitudes that give a clear indication of such willingness, we give our support to a process of dialogue between the competent state authorities and those who decide to abandon violence, respecting at all times the irrevocable democratic principle that political issues should be resolved solely through the legitimate representatives of the people’s will.

11. The defence of our democratic system against violence does not at present require the introduction of any special law or laws, and so we support the abolition of the special legislation on terrorism and the principles of the independence, intervention and promptitude of judicial action.

12. We reiterate our support of the text agreed by the Human Rights’ Commission of the Basque Parliament at the meeting held on May 13, 1987 concerning aid to victims of terrorist attacks and their families.

13. The seriousness of the recession affecting the economy, and the consequences for unemployment, especially amongst the young, and the situation of underprivilege affecting the less favoured sectors of society, which in our case acquires a differential character deriving from the special nature of Basque industry and the perpetuation of a climate of violence, hindering the recovery of our economy through investment, strengthens our resolve to normalise the situation.

We urge public institutions to intensify the measures needed to overcome the serious social consequences of the economic crisis and for the public sector to do everything in its power to create the conditions in which the Basque economy can recover, while we undertake to create the right climate of normalisation and pacification that will encourage and stimulate the investor confidence essential for the Basque economy.

14. We appeal to all Basque citizens to work actively, on an individual level and through the citizens’, trades union, business and professional associations to which they belong, to promote tolerance, mutual respect and personal and collective freedoms, as basic elements of peaceful, constructive coexistence in society. This appeal is directed particularly to politicians, educators and professionals working in information, all of whom are destined, owing to their undoubted influence on social patterns of behaviour, to play a major role in our society’s peace process.

15. We invite all the Basque institutions - Juntas Generales (General Assemblies), Diputaciones Forales (Provincial Councils), Town and City Councils and other public bodies - to adopt this Parliament’s stance and to associate themselves with this Agreement for Normalisation and Pacification and, in their own fields ,to work to achieve full democratic coexistence in the Basque Country.

To this end, and through our representatives, we hereby undertake to espouse this Agreement at the next meeting of the respective institutions.

16. The content of this AGREEMENT shall be communicated to the Spanish Government and to the Political Parties that signed the Madrid Agreement on November 5, 1987.

17. With the threefold purpose of encouraging permanent dialogue between our political forces, of analysing in further detail the ways and means of facilitating the assimilation of those who today do not accept the will of the majority of the Basques and of guaranteeing the fulfilment of this AGREEMENT, we hereby ask the President of the Basque Government to continue to lead the process designed to achieve complete normalisation of the country.

Vitoria-Gasteiz, January 12, 1988

And in witness whereof, the parties now execute this AGREEMENT in Ajuria-Enea, seat of the President’s Office of the Basque Government,

On behalf of AP: On behalf of CDS: 
Julen Guimón Ugartechea Alfredo Marco Tabar 
On behalf of EE: On behalf of EA: 
Kepa Aulestia Urrutia lnazio Oliveri Albizu 
On behalf of EAJ-PNV: On behalf of PSE-PSOE: 
Xabier Arzallus Antí José Mª Benegas Haddad 
The Basque President: 
Antonio Ardanza Garro 

Vitoria-Gasteiz, the twelfth of January, nineteen eighty-eight.

QUALIFICATION BY EUSKO ALKARTASUNA

With regard to point 3 paragraph 2 and the allusion therein to article 17 of the Statute, EA considers it essential to clarify unequivocally that the full development of police competencies of the Basque Autonomous Community, according to said article, means that the Basque Autonomous Community will be able to exercise exclusive responsibility on all those matters not classified as supra- or extra-community in said article, without prejudice to the periods, procedures and co-ordinated action that might be agreed upon for efficient exercise of the responsibility.

On behalf of EA:

Inazio Oliveri Albizu


Democratic Alternative for the Basque Country, 1995

On April the 26th of 1995, ETA, the Basque armed organization made public a "proposal for peace" to give a negotiated solution to the violent political struggle that confronts ETA and the Spanish State. 

A solution based on the recognition to the Basque population of some universally accepted rights: the right to self-determination, and the territorial unity. ETA has officially sent the proposal to the Spanish government, who hasn't answered yet. Likewise, ETA addresses to the Basque society for this proposal to be discussed by political organizations, trade unions, social movements and by the whole of the society, because "the final word and decision must be taken by the Basque population". 

The "Democratic Alternative for the Basque Country", basic proposal of political negotiation arisen from the update of the "KAS Alternative" has two different sets of negotiation: one between ETA and the Spanish State, and the other one among Basque People, by means of an unbounded democratic process in which any of the options could be chosen. 

To achieve the recognition of the Basque Country, essential for this process to be really democratic, is the aim of the political negotiation between ETA and the Spanish State. The final decisions, however, will be taken by the Basque society with no possible delegation. 

This proposal of political negotiation put forward by ETA to overcome the present confrontation between the Basque Country and the Spanish State is a tool at the disposal of the Basque society. 

As new conditions and democratic means are given, ETA will adjust its activity to the new situation of the conflict without giving up its final political aims, that is the independence of the Basque Country and to fight for a society based on social justice. 

The armed struggle between the Basque Country and the Spanish State will be overcome as this proposal is agreed upon and developed. 

ETA's Democratic Alternative for the Basque Country has two different frameworks for negotiations: one between ETA and the Spanish State; and another among all Basque citizens. 

To be agreed upon by ETA and the Spanish State

Upon the Spanish State accepting the proposed plan to initiate a democratic process in the Basque Country, ETA will announce a cease fire. 

The recognition of the Basque Country. The recognition of the right to self-determination and territorial unity. 

The right to self-determination is not a political position, but a democratic right that belongs to us as a people. Although, the decision of when, how and to what purpose that right is to be developed belongs to Basque citizens, the recognition of that right must be secured. It is essential that the Basque Country can decide its future with total freedom. 

The recognition of the Basque Country requires eliminating actual territorial division, accepting its unity, and lifting the institutional borders. How this unity will be defined and structured, is the supreme decision of the Basque Country. 

Respect of the results of the democratic process in the Basque Country. 

Limitations cannot be imposed upon the decisions voiced by the people. Therefore, the Spanish State must agree that it will respect the development of the democratic process and its results, whatever those results may be. 

The minimum condition to develop such a democratic process, is to allow all citizens to participate in it without any pressures. Therefore, it is essential to grant a general amnesty that makes possible the release of all prisoners, and the return of all refugees. 

Equally essential is reaching an agreement on measures which would prevent the Spanish Armed Forces from influencing this process.

To be debated among and agreed upon Basque citizens

The democratic process towards Basque self-determination must have the participation of labor unions, associations, social movements, political parties, institutions, that is, all society, to define options, discussion, frameworks, and suitable agreements. 

Throughout this process, at least the following points will have to be solidified: the development of the right to self-determination (formulation, methodology, options, timetables...); the formulation and process of territorial unity; the relations among all Basque territories; the competencies of the new institutional organization that is going to be agreed upon, without any kind of limitations; plans for the teaching of the Basque language; the socio-economic model and plans; the demilitarization of the Basque Country (including the role of the Army and its withdrawal); and the composition and character of the police force; rights to education; democratic rights, etc. 

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