Monday, March 08, 2004

Courteous Request for Self Determination

Today at Berria:

To Madrid, backed by the consultation

Juan Jose Ibarretxe declared in an event to pay tribute to Jose Antonio Agirre yesterday that he would go to Madrid to negotiate the new Statute “with a courteous attitude”, once the citizens of the Basque Autonomous Community had registered their votes

Pello Urzelai
Yesterday was the centenary of the birth of Jose Antonio Agirre, the first Basque Lehendakari or President [1936-1937 and then in exile until 1960]. The EAJ’s election rally in Getxo (Bizkaia) was based on a tribute to the figure of Agirre. Juan Jose Ibarretxe, the current Lehendakari of the Government of the Basque Autonomous Community, wanted to draw a parallel between the situation that Agirre went through and the Political Statute Proposal. To look ahead he recalled the speech made by Jose Antonio Agirre to the Spanish Parliament of the 2nd Republic (1931-36). Ibarretxe committed himself in the same way as the member of parliament did at that time to defending the new Statute “in a courteous way”. “Society will vote on the new Statute and we shall politely go to Madrid to discuss it, without quaking in our shoes, even though they change the law 100,000 times and even though they try to put the Lehendakari behind bars 300,000 times,” declared Ibarretxe. In this way he hinted that he was intending to base the negotiations in Madrid concerning the new Statute on the backing achieved through a consultation of the people. In the past and today the Basque Country is one of the oldest countries in Europe and demanding “the power to decide for ourselves is frowned upon”, said Ibarretxe. Moreover, he maintained that the PP and the PSOE were “the same thing in the Basque Country”.

Josu Jon Imaz, the EAJ leader, and Jose Antonio Ardanza, who was the Lehendakari during the previous 12 years, also took part in the tribute to Jose Antonio Agirre. Imaz stressed the need to defend “democracy, freedom and human rights”. He said they owed “the achieving of the legal and political recognition of the Basque nation” to Agirre’s generation.

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