Friday, October 03, 2008

Basque-phobe of the Week : Hans-Gert Pöttering

Well, just a few days ago a pro-torture Canadian judge earned the title of Basquephobe of the week, now we have a German showing his bias against the Basque people.

This note appeared today at EU Business:

European parliament head sees no need for Basque referendum

03 October 2008, 23:02 CET

(MADRID) - European Parliament President Hans-Gert Pottering said on Friday he saw no need for Spain's Basque region to hold a referendum on self-determination, a move desired by nationalists there.

"I don't see the need for a referendum in the Basque Country," he said in response to an AFP question at a conference in Madrid.

"Today in the EU we have a system where all people can live their identity. People of the Basque Country can live in Spain. I see no reason for a region to split away from the Spanish state," he added.

Last month Spain's Constitutional Court ruled that a plan by authorities in the Basque region to hold a referendum on self-determination was illegal on the grounds that only the central government could call such a vote.

The ruling was a defeat for the Basque region's nationalist president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, who was the driving force behind the non-binding vote he had scheduled for October 25.

Ibarretxe has said he will appeal against the Spanish court's decision to the European Court of Human Rights.

The wealthy northeastern Basque Country, which has its own distinct language and culture, already enjoys a high level of self-government and polls show the majority of Basques do not want to secede outright from Spain.

The armed Basque separatist group ETA, which has killed over 820 people in its 40-year campaign of bombings and shootings for an independent Basque homeland, has long defended the Basque people's right to self-determination.

According to information easily available on the internet Pöttering is a German conservative politician who just won European Excellence Award 2008 of the Autonomous Community of Madrid ('Premio a la Excelencia Europea 2008'). Was that a bribe to get him to speak against the Basque political rights? What's next, is he sending the Lüftwaffe to bomb Durango and Gernika?

I am going to answer Herr Pöttering why there is a need for a real referendum regarding the right of the Basque people to its self-determination, and I am saying a real one because the one championed by Ibarretxe is not even a true referendum on self-determination.

The reason is there is such a thing as a United Nation's Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which reads in its first article:

Article 1

1. All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

2. All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

3. The States Parties to the present Covenant, including those having responsibility for the administration of Non-Self-Governing and Trust Territories, shall promote the realization of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.

Spain signed that Covenant just like France did, oh, and Germany. By the way, Germany also recognized the right of Kosovo to "split from the" Serbian state, and since there is Albanians living their identity in Europe in a country called Albania then there was no good reason for the Albanians in Kosovo to secede, all they needed to do was to move back to Albania following Pöttering's logic.

To the coward who wrote the article I say, the Basque Country is today a continental colony to two colonialist powers, France and Spain. As if that was not enough, they Basques live in three different political entities, two of which are located south of the Pyrenees (Navarre and the Basque Autonomous Community) and one north of the Pyrenees, grouped with Pau in something called the Pyrinees Atlantiques. That is why despite living in a wealthy region that enjoys "a high level of self-government" the Basques still long for self determination, so they can leave together, with no borders dividing them and preventing them from strenghtening their culture.

And what about those polls that say that Basques do not want independence from France and Spain, wouldn't an actual referendum sponsored by the UN and/or the EU would put that discussion to rest? Why then the opposition to a referendum?

One last thing, thanks to the right of self-determination Germany is an unified country today, how strange it results that a German refuses the same right to the Basques, who live in two different states due to the current political situation. To want for some what you deny to others is called discrimination, and I still remember a certain Austrian-Catholic politician who unified all German peoples and who discriminated against the Jewish and the Roma communities.

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