Wednesday, February 27, 2008
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
But a more general question arises: when does a national minority have the right to secede and establish a nation-state of its own? If the Kosovars have this right, why not the Basques in Spain? The Corsicans in France? The Tibetans in China? The Tamils in Sri Lanka? The Kurds in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria? The Luo in Kenya? The Darfurians in Sudan?
That is a subject best left to professors of political science. Reality has its own language. No one case is the same as another. There is no international tribunal to decide, according to established standards, who has this right — and who does not. The matter is decided in practice: when a particular population is determined to achieve independence at any cost, and when it is ready to fight and sacrifice for its independence — then they have the “right” to independence.
The aspirations of a minority depend also on the attitude of the majority. A nation that is wise enough to treat its national minorities with decency and accord them real equality will succeed in keeping the state intact. Countries like Canada and Belgium understand this and endeavour to prevent the breaking up of the state. But when the dominant people mistreat the minority — as the Serbs did in Kosovo and the Russians are doing in Chechnya — they reinforce the motivation to achieve independence.
But the paradox is that a small state, even a medium-sized state cannot maintain real independence in a world that is inevitably moving towards globalisation. States like Germany and France are compelled to transfer large chunks of their sovereign powers to regional super-states, like the European Union. The French economy and the German army are subject to Brussels more than to Paris and Berlin. So what is the sense in creating even smaller states?
The answer lies with the power of nationalism, which is not decreasing, but rather the opposite. One hundred or two hundred years ago, Corsica could not defend itself. To be secure, it had to be part of the French kingdom. The Basque homeland could not sustain an independent economy and needed to be part of a larger economic unit, like Spain. But today, when decisions are made in Brussels, why should Corsicans and Basques not have their own states and be separate members of the EU?
That is a world-wide tendency. Separate nations do not unite in new states, but on the contrary, existing states break up into national components. Anyone who believes that Israelis and Palestinians will unite tomorrow in one state does not live in the real world. The slogan “two states for two peoples” is relevant today more than ever.
So Israel, approaching its own 60th anniversary, should recognise the Republic of Kosova and wish it well.
I do not agree with his statement regarding Euskal Herria not being able to sustain itself in the past, after all, it was both Euskal Herria and Catalunya's economies the ones that maintained Spain afloat for the longest time.
One more thing, if you read the entire article you will find that Tito and the Serbs aided the Jewish during WWII, just like the Basques did.
You will also read about how Serbia lost its right over Kosovo the day Milosevic unleashed an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Albanians, just like Francisco Franco did against the Basques.
Björk’s Concert in Serbia Cancelled
Iceland’s Björk, who is currently on a world tour promoting her latest album Volta, dedicated her song “Declare Independence” to Kosovo during her concerts in Tokyo on Tuesday and Friday, causing her concert in Novi Sad, Serbia, in July to be cancelled.
Kosovo declared independence from Serbia last week.
The concert organizers in Serbia explained to Björk’s manager on Wednesday that they had called off her concert because of the unstable situation in the country, explaining they could not guarantee security for concert-goers, Morgunbladid reports.
“Maybe a Serb attended my concert [in Tokyo] and called home and therefore the concert in Novi Sad was cancelled,” Björk said.
Her stunt was covered in the media in Kosovo following the concert on Tuesday.
Björk has dedicated her song “Declare Independence” to different countries during her tour: to Greenland and the Faroe Islands when she played in Denmark and to the Basque Country during her concert in Spain.
Here you have the video:
And the lyrics:
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
Start your own currency!
Make your own stamp
Protect your language
Don't let them do that to you
Don't let them do that to you
[ x4 ] Make your own flag!
[ x6 ] Raise your flag!
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
Ignore their patronizing
Tear off their blindfolds
Open their eyes
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
With a flag and a trumpet
Go to the top of your
[ x6 ] Raise your flag!
Don't let them do that to you!
Don't let them do that to you!
Raise the flag!
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Well, it finally happened, and I want to thank Andrew Bartlett (a self appointed human rights defender) for showing the US' political class bias and ignorance.
In his post titled "Kosovo and self-determination" he states:
Perhaps not surprisingly, China is among those not recognising Kosovo. It not only fiercely opposes any type of separate recognition of Taiwan, but also stridently opposes any suggestion of self-determination for Tibet. No doubt Spain’s opposition is in part based on concerns about Basque separatists within their own state.
Notice that he aligns himself with the US official position regarding the Basque Country.
But then he goes on to say this:
I was fortunate enough to be part of a group that met with Taiwan’s President this afternoon. He spoke about the Kosovo situation. It does highlight the oddity that a place like Taiwan, which is obviously a self-governing and autonomous country, finds it difficult to have its recognition of Kosovo recognised.
Ahem, last time I checked Taiwan was still an autonomous province of China, not a sovereign state as the US wishes. That is exactly what is wrong with the US politicians, their double standard. Just like in Kosovo, they have their interest invested in achieving independence for Taiwan, but pay attention, they can care less about Tibet. The thing is, China is not Serbia and they have to be very careful on how they go about the Taiwan hot potato.
US politicians, Democrats and Republicans, they are all the same, they stick to the script and they do not see the discrepancy of calling the Basques by the term "separatists" and never using that same term with the Taiwanese.
And this guy is a Democrat, he belongs to a party that allegedly attracts open minded individuals as opposed to the Republican party.
Well, let us remember that it was a Democrat, Bill Clinton, who started the whole Kosovo issue by ordering a bombing campaign against Serbia without the UN approval, just like Bush did with Iraq. And bot John Kerry and Hillary Clinton during their respective presidential candidacy runs have estated that all Basques are terrorists. Good thing Democrats respect human rights.
Here you have an excerpt from an article appeared at Spiegel:
Breakaway Role Model
Separatist Movements Seek Inspiration in Kosovo
By Stephan Orth, Nadine Michel and Maike Jansen
Kosovo is turning out to be a huge source of conflict, both in the Balkans and across Europe. Six EU member states are against recognizing Kosovo's independence, because they fear it could lead to problems with their own ethnic minorities.
It was probably the most important day of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci's term in office. After issuing the new country's declaration of independence on Sunday, Thaci announced in the capital, Pristina, that his country is now an official member of the "European family."
But in the excitement of that historic moment, it probably didn't occur to him that it is sometimes a rather moody and divided family. Only a few hours later, Europe's lack of unanimity over recognizing Kosovo revealed what a heterogeneous entity Europe still is.
It also raises the question of whether such a divided Europe will ever be capable of conducting an effective joint common foreign policy. Serbia withdrew its ambassadors from Germany and Austria Wednesday, after Berlin and Vienna recognized Kosovo as an independent nation. Then, on Thursday, Serbian protesters rioted in Belgrade, setting fire to the US Embassy.
While Denmark, Austria, France and Great Britain hold similar positions on Kosovo's independence, the EU countries that have minority conflicts of their own are opposed to Kosovo's secession from Serbia. They fear that their separatist groups could choose to emulate developments in the Balkans.
But what are these conflicts, and why has resolving them proved to be so difficult? SPIEGEL ONLINE profiles six countries that are refusing to toe the EU line.
Spain: The Basques and the Catalans
The Spanish central government in Madrid fears that Basque separatists could see Kosovo's declaration of independence as a precedent and as new fuel for their cause. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Spain was one of the first EU countries to announce that it would not recognize the independence of the small Serbian province.
In early 2008, the Basque terrorist organization ETA announced that it would make its future actions dependent on the situation in Kosovo. ETA's goal is to liberate the Basque region from what it calls Spanish "occupiers" and to establish an independent, socialist Basque nation. It was established in 1959 as a military resistance group against Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, who had banned the use of the Basque language and done everything in his power to suppress the Basque minority. There are 3 million Basques today, 2.5 million of them living in the northwest Spanish Basque region and the rest in the southwestern tip of France. The conflict, however, has transpired mainly on Spanish soil.
In 1979, after the end of the Franco dictatorship, the Basques were granted substantial autonomy. But this wasn't enough for ETA, which continues to fight for complete independence using bombings and intimidation campaigns as its preferred tools. The group's struggle has already claimed more than 800 lives.
Another minority group in Spain, the Catalans, also wants more than the autonomous status it was granted in 1978. About 7.2 million people live in the Catalan region in northeast Spain, which has the country's strongest economy. Catalonia has had autonomous status since the 18th century. It wasn't long ago that Josep-Lluís Carod-Rovira, the head of the Republican Left party and the deputy of regional President Jose Montilla, demanded a referendum on independence by 2014.
But the difference between the Basque country and Catalonia, on the one hand, and Kosovo, on the other, is that these regions, despite their continued efforts to gain independence, already enjoy substantial rights of autonomy.
In Madrid, the government's decision not to recognize Kosovo could also affect domestic politics -- general elections will take place in Spain on March 9.
One thing though, Spain's real fear is to finally having to let go of their colonialist past. If Euskal Herria, Catalonia, Galiza and the Canaries are today longing for independence is because the Spaniards have refused to keep up with times. Yesterday it was cool to show to the world that you were able to conquer other nations, today is not so cool, you come across as an aggresive state unable to establish even level relationships with your neighbors.
Now, what is new about this article is the usage of the term "ethnic" never before applied to the Basques. Personally, I don't like it, Euskal Herria is a plural society and you do not need to have a certain DNA composition to be a Basque.
The author also misses the points when he applies the label "separatists" to the Basques. As it happens, today the Basques are separated, they live in three different political entities and two different states. If anything, the Basques are unionists, they all want to live together in the same independent and sovereign country, one that includes the seven provinces today identified as their historic territory. They never willingly joined Spain nor France, so you can not separate anything that was never part of something else by own accord.
Regarding the autonomy, let us remember that the reason why Kosovo declared independence unilaterally was because they did not accept the Serbian offer of more autonomy. So why suddenly it is so bad that the Basques do not want to settle for Spain's offer of autonomy? Remember, what you bestow you are always allowed to take away, so the Basques can not put all their hopes on an autonomy that could be removed by Madrid in the future. Remember, Aznar already threatened with such measure not too long ago.
The article misleads the readers, it tries to tell them that the conflict started when ETA decided to say enough to Franco's crimes in Euskal Herria (Franco's crimes were very similar to those of Milosevic in Kosovo by the way). That is a complete lie, the truth is that the Basques have been fighting to regain their full sovereignty for the last five hundred years.
And by the way, why does the article mentions the deaths caused by ETA but not the ones caused by Franco? Or the ones caused by the KLA/NLA?
Maybe because the violence generated by the UCK was something Washington needed to play it geopolitical games in the region and end up with complete control of the region surrounding their Bondsteel military base?
Well, work is being done to put the imaginary border keeps the four provinces that conform Hegoalde separated (this is why Basque nationalists can not be called separatists, a term often used by the main stream media).
This not published at EITb tells us about a shared initiative to strengthen Euskara, the Basque language:
Basques, Navarrans launch plan in support of Basque language
Representatives of both governments met today to work together in support of the Basque language. They will meet again next week to set the programme methodology.
Representatives of the Basque and Navarre governments met Friday morning in Vitoria-Gasteiz to reach agreements in order to work together in support of the Basque language.
Miren Azkarate, the Basque Government’s Counsellor of Culture and Carlos Pérez Nievas, the Basque Government’s Counsellor of Education, agreed that “shelving politics, they can start working together in favour of the Basque language”.
Both of them said that today’s meeting was just the beginning of a common work to “plan Basque language’s future”, to guarantee the survival of the language and to normalise the relationship of both sides concerning to linguistic matter.
By the way, there is not such a thing as Basques and Navarrans, they are all Basques as they are all Navarrans (I think the right term is Navarrese). Euskera, the Basque language, was called "lingua navarrorum" by the Romas, just so you get the historic facts.
Friday, February 22, 2008
MEP welcomes start of International Solidarity Week with Basque Country
SINN FÉIN MEP Bairbre de Brún has welcomed the start of International Solidarity Week with the Basque Country.
Speaking on Tuesday, 19 February Bairbre de Brún said:
“I welcome the start of International solidarity week with the Basque Country.
“Sinn Féin has argued the need to revive the Basque Peace Process. The banning of Batasuna and jailing of political representatives including democratically elected representatives is an impediment to this.
“We are now concerned that the Spanish administration has begun the process of banning two other parties, EHAK and ANV. This will further impede any search for forward progress, which requires that every effort be made to improve and encourage dialogue between all of the parties in the Basque County and the Spanish government.
“Central to this is the rights of voters to have access to parties and political representatives of their choice.
“I would once again repeat the call for genuine dialogue and engagement. This can be the only way forward if a proper process of conflict resolution is to be put in place.”
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Basque in glory: Savory regional cuisine prepared with passion
by Janet Leonardi
Wednesday February 20, 2008, 11:00 AM
The cuisine of the Basque country -- in the western Pyrenees straddling northern Spain and southeastern France -- just could be the most glorious food you've never heard of.
At least, not in detail unless you are a food professional or a seasoned world traveler.
Think of delicate veal scallops simmering in sweet red pepper, tomato and cognac-infused piperade sauce, or succulent lamb shanks slowly roasted in green-tinged olive oil and aromatic garlic.
Don't miss the steaming bowls of hearty stew with tender chunks of fresh tuna and pearly potatoes.
The culinary surprizes of the area known as le Pays Basque -- or the Basque country -- has long been acclaimed in Europe and regarded as one of the world's best kept epicurean secrets. But times are changing. There's an ever heightening interest in regional cooking and both the word and taste of the Basques are spreading, quickly but quietly.
"We Basque are passionate about our cooking," says Maria G. Aurre, proprietor of Casa Vasca, a family-run restaurant in Newark's Ironbound district. The restaurant name translates to Basque House, and Aurre, who grew up in the Spanish province of Bizkaia, still follows tradition, serving classic home-style dishes, getting the ingredients fresh from local markets each day.
"In Basque, every meal is a celebration meant to be shared with others. When you visit there, the first thing someone will do is invite you to eat," Aurre says. "There's old Basque and new Basque cuisine, but the secret lies in using quality ingredients carefully cooked to perfection."
Food -- in both its preparation and enjoyment -- almost borders on obsession there, and every man and woman, wealthy and working class alike, cooks. Many belong to local gastronomical societies and ancestral recipes are cherished, lovingly passed down from generation to generation.
The area's Pyrenees Mountains, fertile Ebro valley and curving Bay of Biscay provide a virtual food landscape, affording its residents every opportunity to hone their cooking skills.
Just some of the staples of this satisfying yet simple cuisine are prime lean and cured meats, farm fresh vegetables, creamy cheese custom-made in mountain caves and a myriad of seafood, ranging from anchovies, hake and spider crabs to lobster, cockles and scallops.
Brilliant red chili peppers, unique to the area, are strung like badges of honor outside Basque homes throughout summer and are milder in flavor than the chilis we know here. One of the Basque's most popular sauces is piperade, a tasty saute of red peppers, onions, garlic and olive oil that is served alone, with scrambled eggs or any number of different meats and fish.
Humble white beans, another staple, are elevated to new heights when stewed with lamb, juicy ribs and hunks of chorizo sausage. Extra-virgin olive oil is the region's oil of choice because of its availability and high concentration of flavor; spices are fresh and, like salt, are sprinkled sparingly.
Carlos Izaguirre, sous chef at La Campagna Restaurant in Cherry Hill, is of Basque heritage and teaches a class on Basque country cooking. "Another very popular Basque food is Bayonne ham. Its flavor is so special because local pigs feed on chestnuts, which are abundant in the region, giving the pork a subtle chestnut taste. We also use chestnuts to make simple purees which accompany lamb, pork and fish dishes," hs says.
Izaguirre admits Basque cuisine has undergone some changes over time, but the basics remain the same. "It was once thought of as poor man's cuisine, but not anymore. And with the growth of ethnic markets and the internet, ingredients for this style of cuisine are easily obtainable."
The Basque were always great fishermen with many recipes originating from crews on fishing boats who cooked their catch either fresh at sea or dried it in salt. Salt cod is a signature and if legend is correct the Basque were responsible for getting the Mediterranean world hooked on this dried specialty.
Bacalao al pil-pil is classic Basque fare made by simmering dried salt cod in an olive oil and garlic emulsion that is expertly combined with the fish gelatin to produce a light creamy sauce.
Aurre says even though this dish seems deceptively simple to make, "It's difficult to cook because only achieving the perfect temperature and carefully shaking the olive oil will produce the desired mayonnaise like sauce."
"There are at least 50 or 60 more recipes for making salt cod dishes," says Ignacio Cenicacelaya, chef/proprietor of Jai Alai, a Basque restaurant in Dover.
Cenicacelaya, who grew up in a Basque family of restaurateurs, says fish of this region have unique flavor. "It's attributable to the sea balance resulting from the North Atlantic Ocean meeting the Bay of Biscay. The water is more oxygenated which gives fish an extra boost of taste."
Delicate baby eels known as angula are another specialty often served piping hot in small casseroles with olive oil, crushed garlic and red pimiento. Snowy white squid are served in velvety black ink sauce enhanced with tomato, garlic, olive oil and cognac. Plump jumbo shrimp sizzle in a garlic-infused sherry sauce laced with saffron.
Clams, scallops, mussels, red snapper, mackerel, hake, tuna, sole, swordfish, skate, monkfish, lobster and crabs are just some of the other popular fish either grilled or steamed.
Cenicacelaya explains the real beauty of Basque cooking is that it's natural and organic. "We allow a food's true flavor to come through because when you have something good you don't need to do very much to it. We never use water in cooking but rather add wine, sherry, brandy or cognac to make fish and meat sauces and stocks."
And one cannot mention Basque cuisine without mentioning its boldly flavored pintxos, the Basque version of tapas. Pintxos here are the ultimate finger food, set out on bars across the region. You never have to order but rather just walk in, take a plate and sample from the tantalizing selection on display.
Washed down with a glass of local wine, these small rafts of crusty bread hold a wealth of topping treasures ranging from sizzling parsley-filled mushroom caps and grilled eggplant to chopped ham, stuffed peppers or a dozen other choices, all held in place by small wood skewers topped with an olive.
From zesty pintxos beginnings to mouth-watering dessert endings which can include golden apple and almond tarts; deep mauve Rioja-poached pears; arroz con leche, a creamy rice pudding or glistening ramekins of custardy creme caramel, Basque country cooking is in a class by itself.
And there's no better time than the present to start celebrating its glory.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
But five years elapsed since Madrid ordered to shut down Egunkaria, the only newspaper that was published entirely in Euskara. It was not the first time the Spanish repressive machinery attacked a Basque media outlet, it wouldn't be the last one.
Here you have the note by EITb regarding this issue:
Fifth anniversary of closure of Basque daily Egunkaria
Today marks the fifth anniversary since the Spanish Civil Guard shut down the Basque daily Egunkaria. Twelve defendants are still waiting for a trial although the Prosecutor has not submitted any accusation.
Today, February 20, marks the fifth anniversary since the Spanish Civil Guard entered the premises of the Basque newspaper and closed off the building, following a ruling by the Spanish judge Juan del Olmo.
Judge Juan del Olmo ordered to shut down the Basque-language daily Euskaldunon Egunkaria on February 20, 2003. Furthermore, ten people were arrested within the same operation charged with illegal association with the armed band ETA: Xabier Alegria, Txema Auzmendi, Xabier Oleaga, Martxelo Otamendi, Joan Mari Torrealdai, Iñaki Uria, Pello Zubiria, Inma Gomila, Luis Goia and Fermin Lazkano.
After eight days held incommunicado, Gomila, Lazkano, Otamendi and Goia were released and the judge ordered the imprisonment of the other six. Throughout these five years these six have been released paying their respective bails and are awaiting trial.
Several political representatives of Basque parties PNV, EA, EB-Berdeak and Aralar and trade unions ELA, LAB and CCOO, members of the Royal Academy of the Basque language, writers, singers, poets and football players among others supported those accused over Egunkaria case and they pointed out that not only the newspaper is being criminalized but everything linked to the Basque language itself.
Moreover, they organized a rally on February 12, in support of “the critical conscience of the Basque society”.
To mark this sad anniversary, the defendants and some workers of the newspaper itself will participate in a rally in the Basque town of Andoain.
Five years later, the trial has not been celebrated yet. The judge said the newspaper was linked to the Basque armed group ETA in order to ban it, but according to the Public Prosecutor of the Spanish High Court that was not true.
The Public Prosecutor’s office did not summit any accusation but it seems unavoidable that the trial must be celebrated.
If found guilty, the accused could face 300 years prison sentence.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Franklin Roosevelt once said: “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is Fear Itself”. The context has obviously nothing to do, but Spain should keep this sentence in mind.
Miguel Angel Moratinos, Spain’s Foreign Minister, justifies Spain’s opposition to recognizing Kosovo as an independent state stating that unilateral independence is not allowed by international law. Even if this is true indeed, no one will ever believe this is the actual reason for Spain to be against Kosovo’s independence. Spain is actually showing here its own fear, a fear to a Basque and a Catalan secession with Kosovo as a precedent. No matter how many times the Spanish government states there is not a single similarity between Kosovo and the Basque Country, the truth is its reluctances to accept Kosovo’s independence show the deepest of Spain’s fears.
The question is: can a country just keep on ignoring another country forever? I don’t think so, and sooner or later Spain will have to assume Kosovo being an independent state. Spain did not recognize Israel as a country when the State of Israel was created in 1948. The important thing is Spain finally had to, even if 38 years afterwards.
I went ahead and highlighted the juiciest part.
Oh, and by the way, Spain is late 500 years in recognizing Euskal Herria's sovereignty, their time is up I would say.
And when will Israel recognize Palestine?
Monday, February 18, 2008
Here you have and extract of that post:
Some are more economically viable, some less; some are more uniform in their national identity, some more controversial; some are more of a joke. But all, really, have similar claims to independent status as Kosovo - and many are associated with the European Parliament’s European Free Alliance group. There’s a surprisingly large number of aspirant Utopias.
After Kosovo, it is obvious that economic viability has ceased to be something that can be used against those who seek independence.
This is what nosemonkey says about Euskal Herria:
The Basque Country - Somewhat well-known wannabe state straddling the Franco-Spanish border, based on one of the most tight-knit ethnic groups in Europe.
Navarre - a former kingdom and current autonomous region of Spain, Navarre is part of the wider Basque Country, but Basque nationalists have occasionally suggested limiting their ambitions for sovereignty to this smaller area.
Pretty accurate view of what's taking place in Euskal Herria.
But what I really wanted to highlight about this post is his mention of this particularly interesting international agreement:
Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities
In February 1995, 22 member States of the Council of Europe, signed the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Framework was to become active in 1998. The broad aims of the Convention are to ensure that the signatory states respect for the rights of national minorities, undertaking to combat discrimination, promote equality, preserve and develop the culture and identity of national minorities, guarantee certain freedoms in relation to access to the media, minority languages and education and encourage the participation of national minorities in public life.
Article 25 of the Framework Convention binds the signatory states to submit a report to the Council of Europe containing "full information on the legislative and other measures taken to give effect to the principles set out in this framework Convention" (Council of Europe, 1994, 7).
The Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities defines a national minority implicitly to include minorities possessing a territorial identity and a distinct cultural heritage.
However the convention has come under considerable criticism. First of all, not all member states of the European Council have signed and ratified it. France has done neither. Luxembourg and Belgium have signed and have yet to ratify. Also, the provisions offer little new on already existing international treaties. Furthermore, they are hedged around with many phrases including 'as far as possible'.
Overall however, Phillips (2002) has argued that because the FCNM is flexible it has allowed such a great number of states to ratify it so quickly. Therefore it should not be considered a failure, but a start. Many authors agree with this arguing that it needs to be implemented in 'good faith' with the political will to support commitment to minority rights.
And as he points out, France did not sign this agreement which directly affects three of Euskal Herria's provinces: Lapurdi, Behe-Nafarroa and Zuberoa.
At Alejandros@World, blogger Alejandro Ribo provides with an analysis of the situation in his post titled "Kosovo and its future, Catalunya and its present, Spain and its past", here you have the part I liked the most:
I do not see how this can be against international law, for there are no consensual rules about self-determination, beyond those ad-hoc norms imposed by big states to save themselves from independence movements or for “stability/security” reasons. Self-determination is basically a political concept, not something that can be reduced to a piece of paper agreed by a few for the many. If a group of people wants to separate from another group of people, and they have the possibility to do it, be it because they have the power or they are supported by the powerful, self-determination will happen; otherwise the most active among the former group of people are called manipulators, for they want to convince others that they are different, or even terrorist.
In Spain, the government has promptly reacted with
a nuancedan ambiguous position on Kosovo’s independence. It cannot go against it, for it is supported by the US and it is the product of the suffering of the Albanian Kosovars so-much defended by NATO. But it rejects its forms - unilateral against international law - and it fears a “domino effect” in its own borders. Quickly, nationalists parties in Catalunya (Catalonia) have marked differences between the Kosovar case and the Catalan situation. However, they defend its independence as an exercise of the legitimate right to self-determination.
Obviously, Kosovo is different from Catalunya, and Catalunya is different from Euskadi (Basque country), and Euskadi is different from Vlaanderen (Flanders), and Vlaanderen is different from Scotland, and so on. Nevertheless, they all have something in common: a cultural group (i don’t want to use the term ethnic, for its connotations) that lives in a state dominated by another cultural group, and the latter uses this state to, surreptitiously, favored the population that follows its socio-cultural norms e.g. speak its language. In my opinion, the important here is not what separates Kosovo from Catalunya, or even what is similar in both cases, but how beneficial independence will be for the Balkan province (and soon state) - its future. For if Kosovo proofs the principle that “small states are better off in a globalized world”, we might say with more emphasis that “small states are better off in a united Europe in a globalized world”…
I see that the Kosovars have made a bold bid for independence from Serbia. It's not surprising. Assuming they are successful (and I suspect they will be), they will be yet another example of the small but growing number of Muslim-dominated free and pluralist democracies. I wish them luck.
Why are all US conservatives such hypocrites?
Here you have the note from Yahoo News:
France recognizes Kosovo, after hours of suspense
By Douglas Hamilton 30 minutes ago
France recognized the independence of Kosovo on Monday, ending hours of suspense after Prime Minister Hashim Thaci assured the new republic that Western recognition would come "any minute."
The announcement by Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, at an EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels, was a relief for Pristina.
The smooth response Thaci had expected from the European Union and the United States was tripped up earlier, when EU member Spain broke ranks to say 'No'.
Then U.S. President George W. Bush appeared to jump the gun ahead of his own State Department.
In a television interview during his tour of Africa, Bush said the people of Kosovo "are now independent." The remark was flashed in Kosovo as meaning U.S. recognition but White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said: "He didn't announce that."
"What he meant by that is that the Kosovars have declared their independence," Perino said, making clear it was the job of the U.S. State Department to officially declare recognition.
Bush was due to make a statement about Kosovo on Tuesday, in line with the original script which calls for the EU to go first in announcing its policy on what the West insists is a "European issue" that Serb ally Russia should not interfere in.
But the first word from Brussels was a disappointment.
"The government of Spain will not recognize the unilateral act proclaimed yesterday by the assembly of Kosovo," Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos told reporters.
"We will not recognize because we consider ... this does not respect international law," said the minister, whose country is grappling with separatist movements of its own.
Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania have indicated they too are not keen to recognize Kosovo.
Afghanistan officially greeted the new Balkan state, but Vietnam and Azerbaijan said they would not recognize it.
The thumbs-up Kosovo confidently expects from London, Rome, Berlin and up to 100 other governments was still in the pipeline.
London is next?
Well, that is peachy news for Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
Basque Government: "Kosovo, the example of how to solve problems"
Executive in Gasteiz has underlined that Kosovo’s independence means "a new example in Europe in which problems can be solved through democracy and dialogue, respecting citizens' wish".
Basque Government Spokeswoman, Miren Azkarate, has declared today that Kosovo’s independence, which will be proclaimed in “a few hours”, means a "lesson of how to solve identity and belonging conflicts in a peaceful and democratic way".
In her opinion, "XXI century is identity and nations century, the century of respecting citizens’ wish", and in this context, self-determination right is "the key" to give a "definitive" solution to Basque political conflict.
Azkarate has stated that Kosovo’s independence means "a new example in Europe in which problems can be solved through democracy and dialogue, respecting citizens’ wish".
Moreover, she has emphasized that "mainly all European States, except for Serbia, Russia and Spain", are in favor of Kosovo’s independence", which "is not the first, but a new example and way to solve problems".
"That problem is also in Belgium, Scotland Basque Country and Catalonia", she has added.
And here you have some more international press coverage of the issue that for good or for bad mention the Basque Country.
Javno from Croatia:
Kosovo Starts a Wave of Separatism
The Spanish Basque region, Southern Ossetia, Abkhazia and other regions, will follow Kovo’s example and ask for independence.
The declaration of Kosovo’s independence will strengthen separatist intentions in many regions in Europe and the world, backed by Kosovo’s example, Blic reports.
Spannish Basques to follow Kosovo’s example
The regional authorities of the Spanish Basque area have estimated that Kosovo’s secession from Serbia is an example to imitate. Spain stated that they will not recognise independent Kosovo, which is logical, as the country has similar problems with the Basque region and Catalonia, who have been fighting for independence. Also today, Spain repeated that they will not back a unilateral declaration of independence.
- The declaration of independence is an example to imitate in when it is about solving a problem of identity and belonging in a democratic and a peaceful way – said the spokeswoman of the Basque authorities, Miren Askarate, during a press conference in San Sebastian. The Basque region is ruled by the Basque National Party, a Christian-democratic national party.
Let us remember that Croatia got its independence from Serbia not too long ago.
Here you have the one from the Independent in England:
A flag, but no UN seat for a country still lacking full sovereignty
By Anne Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Monday, 18 February 2008
The second bone of contention preventing all 27 EU states from recognising Kosovo is the unilateral border change, which could serve as a precedent in other "frozen conflicts", as Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, has pointed out.
He has accused Europe of double standards for backing Kosovo's independence but not supporting independence for the Basque country and for Turkish northern Cyprus. But advocates of Kosovo's independence argue that the UN-administered Serbian province was always a special case, and that comparisons with other separatist conflicts are not valid.
How cute of those independence advocates to discriminate against other nations longing for self rule, as they say, money talks.
And here you have one more from England, the Times:
Europe's Newest Nation
An independent Kosovo faces challenges at home and abroad
European Union foreign ministers meet today to give broad endorsement to the plan for “supervised” independence drawn up by the EU's special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari. In concert with Washington, Britain, Germany, Italy and France are to recognise Kosovo and authorise the deployment of a 2,000-strong EU police and judicial team intended to underpin the 120-day transition to full independence, after which Kosovo will adopt a new constitution. Several EU members, however, will not follow suit. These include Spain, which fears that the breakaway state will set a precedent for the Basque country. Kosovo's immediate neighbours also have doubts: Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus share with Serbia an Orthodox heritage and are wary of emboldening their own secessionist fringes. Indeed, Cyprus, which voted for a new President yesterday, is unlikely ever to recognise Kosovo, fearing that this will entrench its own division.
Throughout all these years I've heard people stating with righteous solemnity that the Basque Country shall not achieve independence until the Basques renounce violence. Well, every single article about Kosovo mentions in one way or the other that there is a clear and present danger for the Serbian inhabitants of the brand new country, not to sound like Vladimir Putin but, talk about double standard. And they don't even mention what could happen to the other ethnic minorities.
By the way, stay tuned, the UCK will soon strike in Macedonia's "ethnic Albanian" region of Ohrid, unleashing an spiral of violence yet again. Greater Albania, here we come.
18th-24th February International Week of Solidarity with the Basque Country.
Thursday 21st Film Screenings:
Belfast: 7pm Felons Club.
Cork: 6pm University College Cork.
Saturday 23rd Picket lines:
Derry: 2pm Free Derry Corner.
Belfast: 2pm Cultúrlann, Falls Road.
Dublin: 12pm GPO.
Cork: 2pm Daunt’s Square.
Dublin: Film screening Teacher’s Club, Parnell Square.SUPPORT DEMOCRACY FOR THE BASQUE COUNTRY. STOP REPRESSION.
Last year once again, the Spanish government destroyed all hopes of resolving the conflict between the Basque Country and the French and Spanish States.
During the negotiations:
- the majority of pro-independence organisations continued to be banned.
- Several media were closed down.
- 40 pro-independence activists were called to appear before court due to their political or social activities.
- 50 political events of the pro-independence movement were banned.
- 25 demonstrations were brutally attacked.
- 200 militants were sentenced for their activities before the negotiation period.
- 700 check points were detected on the roads.
- The Spanish army carried out operations in 30 towns in the south of the Basque Country.
- 500 people were identified for so called propaganda activities.
- Dozens of people were fined for participating or requesting permission to organise political events.
- The Spanish government increased the maximum penalty for “terrorism acts” to 40 years, ten additional years.
- Political prisoner Iñaki de Juana went on hunger strike for 100 days to protest against the fact that he had been sentenced to 3 additional years for writing an opinion article.
- Pro-independence Basque citizens denounced being tortured.
- The arrest of ETA volunteers continued…
Despite their maintaining the truce his, the pro-independence movement remained at the negotiating table until the Spanish government withdrew leaving the pro-independence movement alone at the table.
Since the end of the negotiations:
- the number of political prisoners has been increased by 120 people.
- There are currently 700 political prisoners (out of the Basque Country’s population of under 3 million inhabitants).
- 42 people have been imprisoned for their social and political activities.
- New trials are approaching: Udabiltza the association of elected representatives, the anti-repressive group Askatasuna, the political party Batasuna, whose executive is currently in prison. There will be more illegalisations, torture has increased with detainees ending up in hospital with serious injuries and with disturbing rape allegations while in police hands.
The intent is clear: the total intimidation and legal destruction of the pro-independence left movement and of its social and political support.
The pro-independence movement continues to defend the same proposal as during the negotiations :
- A statute of autonomy for the four Basque provinces under Spanish rule including the right to self-determination.
- A statute of autonomy also for the three provinces which are under French administration with a framework that gives the opportunity to develop all political projects.
These are hard times for the Basque Country. We are calling on international solidarity to mobilise, to denounce the denial of political and social rights and to support the right of the Basque Country to self-determination.
Irish Basque Committeeswww.irishbasquecommittees.blogspot.com
Listen to Basque Info online Tuesdays 6.30-7pm at www.feilefm.com
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Official visit to California
Basque PM Ibarretxe ask Basque centers to be "social reference"
In an act celebrated at San Francisco’s Basque Cultural Centre, Basque Prime Minister has declared that in this way, Basque Country will obtain "bigger international recognition".
Basque Prime Minister Juan José Ibarretxe has asked Basque centers abroad to be "social reference institutions" in their environment so that Basque Country will obtain "bigger international recognition wherever it may be".
Ibarretxe, who finishes his visit to California today, has been attending an act at San Francisco’s Basque Cultural Center, where he has been welcomed by directors there, representatives of other Basque communities in US and a large group of Basque people living in this country.
The Basque Premier has thanked "all Basque citizens in US" for their effort "in favour of our country and the expansion of our Basque Culture values".
"Thanks to your efforts, in spite of everything, Basque Country is well considered in the international field", has added Ibarrtexe in a speech given in English.
Actually, the Basque community in the USA unlike the one in Mexico is doing a terrific job at providing an opportunity to the people living in the cities with a Basque organization or club to get to know more about Basque history and culture as a mean to ensure a better understanding of what Euskal Herria is.
But there is areas of opportunity where Basque clubs need to improve, the main issue is the need to create spaces for those who more openly support the right of the Basque people to their self determination.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Don't laugh too hard when you read about Spain's reaction to Putin's words.
Here you have the note from Nasdaq:
Spain Protests Putin Likening Kosovo To Basque Region
MADRID (AFP)--Spain protested to Russia Friday over remarks by President Vladimir Putin in which he likened the situation in Kosovo to that in Spain's Basque and Catalan regions, said a foreign ministry source.
The government summoned the Russian ambassador to express its "surprise" and to call for an explanation for the remarks by Putin, who is vehemently opposed to Kosovo's independence.
A unilateral declaration of independence by Kosovo's Albanian majority is expected Sunday or Monday, just before a key meeting of E.U. foreign ministers.
A core group of major E.U. states - the U.K., France, Germany and Italy - is expected to recognize it quickly, in concert with the U.S.
"Aren't you ashamed, you Europeans, to have double standards to solve the same issues in different regions of the world," Putin told a news conference in Moscow.
"What's the use of encouraging separatism? People don't want to live in a Spain in the heart of a single state. Well, let's support them then!" he said, in reference to the separatist movements in Spain's northern Basque Country and eastern region of Catalonia.
The armed separatist group ETA is blamed for the deaths of 819 people in Spain during almost four decades of fighting for independence for the Basque region.
The Russian ambassador to Madrid told Spain's Europa Press agency that the remarks were not intended as interference in Spain's internal affairs.
"Russia is a friend of Spain and it fully respects the political system and Spanish democratic institutions," he said.
Spain is hostile to the idea of unilateral independence for Kosovo, fearing that it could lead to greater instability in the region.
"We will not recognize" the unilateral independence of Kosovo, Spain's secretary of state for E.U. affairs, Alberto Navarro, said in Bratislava early this month.
By the way, is anyone keeping count of just how many Basques have been murdered by Spain's colonialist adventure in Euskal Herria?
Well, thanks to the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA, the Serbian province of Kosovo will gain its independence as of tomorrow.
Here you have the note via AFP:
Kosovo inches closer to independence declaration
PRISTINA, Serbia (AFP) — Kosovo will declare independence on Sunday amid growing excitement among its ethnic Albanians, anger from its Serbs, and the launch of an EU mission to ease the birth of the world's newest state.
"Tomorrow will be a day of calm, of understanding and of state engagements for the implementation of the will of the citizens of Kosovo," Prime Minister Hashim Thaci said Saturday in reference to the breakaway ethnic Albanian majority.
Expectations of a Sunday declaration of independence have been running high for several days -- but Thaci's comments marked the first top-level confirmation that the long-awaited break with Serbia would come this weekend.
By nightfall Saturday, tens of thousands of cheering Kosovars poured into downtown Pristina, filled with anticipation, as convoys of vehicles zipped through the streets, cheerfully honking their horns and waving Albanian, British, German, NATO and US flags.
Talking to reporters after a meeting with religious leaders, Thaci appealed for celebrations to unfold with "dignity ... on the day of the declaration of independence, on the big day, on the historic day ... a day of thanksgiving for a sovereign and independent Kosovo."
Serbia, which sees Kosovo as the cradle of Serb culture and religion, and Russia, Belgrade's main ally on the world stage, has vowed never to recognize an independent Kosovo.
In a television interview later Saturday, Thaci said details of the declaration of independence -- "in coordination with our international partners" -- would be finalized first thing Sunday morning.
"The constitution is ready and national symbols are ready," he said, indicating as well that the newborn state would move quickly to apply to join the United Nations and other international institutions.
Independence is expected to be declared at around 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Sunday to the strains of "Ode to Joy," the anthem of the European Union, according to local news media. Street parties and fireworks would follow.
The European Union launched earlier Saturday a 2,000-member police and judicial mission to help facilitate Kosovo's transition to independence -- even as the bloc's 27 members remain split on how to recognize the new state.
In the divided northern city of Kosovoska Mitrovica, a potential flashpoint for violence on Sunday, Kosovo Serb leader Milan Ivanovic rejected the EU mission, vowing it would be boycotted by his people.
"The EU mission is not welcome. We will boycott it and use all methods of civic resistance," Ivanovic said. Serbs make up 120,000 of Kosovo's 1.8 million people and they want to stay part of Serbia.
In the wintery streets of Pristina, many shopkeepers Saturday festooned their windows with the Albanian flag -- a black eagle on a red background -- sometimes alongside banners boasting 50-percent-off sales.
Colourful posters expressed thanks to the United States, Britain and the European Union for supporting independence. Street stalls added "Proud to be Kosovar" T-shirts to their usual inventory of cigarettes and mobile phones.
Thaci's government has reportedly ordered 80 tonnes of fireworks from Bulgaria for the occasion, while a trendy bakery called Fellini's is baking a jumbo Kosovo-shaped independence cake.
EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to try to draw up a "common platform" in response to Kosovo's expected independence, one which does not include the notion of the bloc as a whole recognising the new state.
EU leaders committed in December to help with a settlement on Kosovo's final status, including economic and political assistance and by offering Kosovo the prospect of EU membership some time in the distant future.
"We are working with our international partners in the European Union and the United Nations to bring the Kosovo status process rapidly to completion," a British foreign ministry spokesman in London said.
But some countries will refuse, at least in the short term, to recognise the new state, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain.
Opponents of independence fear it could serve as a precedent for other separatist groups in Europe, as well as undermine Balkan security which remains fragile after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
In Belgrade on Saturday, more than 1,000 Serb nationalists -- chanting "Kosovo is the heart of Serbia" and waving the Serbian tricolour flag -- protested against Western support for Kosovo's independence.
In the mean time, Spain, one of the states that vowed not to recognise this second Albanian state continues to increase their violent repression of the Basques, or shall we call them "ethnic Basques" the way the AFP calls the Albanians?
And how come I will enjoy reading the news on Monday?
Wait and see all the declarations that will be made by the international community "leaders" telling us how what applies for Kosovo does not apply for Euskal Herria.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Well, the time has come for those colonialist powers to shed what stops them from being true democratic states, and that can only take place when they finally let go of their remaining colonies.
This is why, surrounding Kosovo's push for independence, tough questions are being asked.
Check out this note appeared at the International Herald Tribune:
Kosovo's looming independence raises question: Why not Scotland or Vermont?
The Associated Press
Friday, February 15, 2008
Sean Connery thinks a Scottish nation is a bonnie notion. How about Spain's Basque country becoming a REAL country? And what's wrong with a People's Republic of Vermont?
Kosovo's looming independence raises all those questions and more. For starters: Why is statehood OK for some people but frowned on for others? After all, isn't the right to self-determination the essence of democracy itself?
There are at least two dozen secessionist movements active in Europe alone, and scores of others agitating for sovereignty around the globe. All of them, experts warn, will be emboldened by Sunday's expected proclamation of the Republic of Kosovo.
"We live in a world which is based around states," said Florian Bieber, a professor of politics and international relations at England's University of Kent.
"The United Nations is based on states. The European Union is based on states," he said. "It's going to continue to happen. New states will emerge, and states will disappear, like East Germany."
Not all independence movements are created equal.
Some are quirky, such as Second Vermont Republic Thomas Naylor's small but spirited campaign to break off his corner of northern New England and make it a nation.
With his spectacles, bald spot and long white hair, the retired Duke University economics professor looks like Benjamin Franklin and quotes Thomas Jefferson. He believes that if Kosovo can become a country, so can Vermont, which was independent until it joined the Union in 1791 as the 14th state.
Yet Naylor concedes: "It's a tough sell. This is not kid stuff. Secession is a radical act of rebellion driven by anger and fear."
Thousands have died in long-running quests for statehood mounted by the Palestinians in the occupied territories, and by rebels fighting to gain Kashmir's independence from India and Pakistan.
The Basques have achieved sweeping autonomy from Spain, but militants continue to fight for full independence. On the Mediterranean island of Corsica, birthplace of Napoleon, nationalists still set off bombs to press for independence from France.
There are also many strictly nonviolent movements willing to settle for autonomy rather than secession. And sometimes new states are born by mutual consent, such as Slovakia and the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia until they split in 1993.
Kosovo formally remains part of Serbia, but it's been run by the U.N. since 1999, when NATO intervened to stop Slobodan Milosevic's brutal crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatists.
Although the U.S. and key allies including Britain, France and Germany support its bid, Serbia and Russia fiercely oppose it.
Russian President Vladimir Putin insists that if Kosovo gains independence without U.N. approval, it will set a dangerous precedent for secessionists in Chechnya, Georgia, Azerbaijan and further afield.
Trouble is, there's no internationally accepted standard for independence, said Marc Plattner, co-editor of the Washington-based Journal of Democracy, which analyzes movements worldwide.
You can let the people decide, he says, but first you have to decide: Who are the people?
"This is the great hole in democratic theory," Plattner said. "There isn't a sound theoretical or moral answer. One simply looks at the individual case."
Skeptics say the increasing flow of cash, goods and information across national boundaries has taken the shine off statehood.
Others wonder if the already unwieldy EU and U.N. can handle much more. The 27-nation EU already has 23 official languages, and many doubt it could cope if it had to add Albanian and Welsh to the mix.
"At a time when borders are coming down in the EU, freeing up the markets and trade, it makes no sense to put them up here," said Angus MacGregor, an insurance broker in Scotland, whose nationalist minority government is pressing to break away from Britain.
The Scottish National Party has promised to hold a referendum on independence by 2010. Although a vote looks unlikely, it's not for lack of trying.
After 700 years of struggle dating back to William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, Scotland's latest "Braveheart" is Connery.
"All of my life experience tells me that an independent Scotland will be successful," the "James Bond" actor said in TV spots aired last year.
Belgium could be the next country to face a big breakup: A nasty rift between Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north and French-speaking southern Wallonia to the south has raised speculation that the kingdom may split in two.
Other movements have been around for decades.
There's the drive to gain independence for Biafra in Nigeria's oil-rich east, and the fringe Puerto Rican Independence Party, still seeking to wrest back the island the U.S. seized in 1898 at the end of the Spanish-American War.
The United Kingdom looks pretty disunited, too, and not just because of Scotland.
Some in Northern Ireland still advocate unification with Ireland. The Party of Wales wants an independent Welsh state. And in southwestern England, a boisterous secessionist group is trying to carve a country out of Cornwall.
In the U.S., separatist movements advocate independence for Alaska, Texas and the southern states.
And more obscure groups abound.
Ex-Soviet Moldova, just half the size of West Virginia, already has one breakaway republic, Trans-Dniester. But there's also Gagauzia, an autonomous no man's land. Though it doesn't have a prayer of gaining independence, it still sports a flag featuring a snarling red wolf's head.
Other "stateless nations" range from the Veps people of Baltic Finn extraction in northwestern Russia to the Sorbs, a Slavonic people who occupy parts of the Czech Republic, Germany and Poland.
"One thing's for sure," said Vermont's Naylor. "We didn't start this. We're just continuing the process."
Associated Press Writer Ben McConville in Edinburgh, Scotland, contributed to this report.
The note covering the event was published by EITb:
Talk in Stanford
The right to decide is the key to the solution-Basque PM Ibarretxe
During a conference in the U.S. university of Stanford, the Basque PM denounced the reduction of the civil and political rights in the Basque Country and defended the right of the Basques to decide their own future.
Basque Prime Minister Juan José Ibarretxe said the right of the Basque people to decide their own future is the key to the solution of the political conflict in the Basque Country, a right that "inspired the Declaration of Independence of the United States".
In a conference hosted by the U.S. University of Stanford in a crowded auditorium, Ibarretxe talked about the political situation in the Basque Country and explained his route map to find a solution to the political conflict in the Basque Country.
"The recognition of the right of the Basque people to decide their own future and the commitment to exercise this right through agreement and negotiation is the key to the solution", Ibarretxe said.
The Basque PM pointed out that "sometimes the Spanish Government claims that this right to decide divides Basque society." "What really divides Basque society is not to have the right to decide our own future", Ibarretxe added.
Ibarretxe said he was convinced that the "violence of ETA can not be combated by narrowing democracy but by broadening it."
The Basque PM denounced violence could not be used "as an excuse for the indiscriminate reduction of civil and political rights" in a true democracy.
"Unfortunately, Spain has promoted the closure of newspapers and other media and the use of special laws to exclude a part of Basque society from its institutions. This, in the opinion of most of the Basque society, does not bring a solution closer, but makes it more difficult to achieve", Ibarretxe explained.
Despite the controversy surfaced before the visit took place, only about ten people rallied outside the Stanford auditorium to protest against the visit of the Basque PM. The protesters were holding a banner reading "ETA kilss, Ibarretxe negotiates".
Now, if he could convince the members of his PNV political formation we could finally be on the right path.
Regis Philbin is Basque!
This note comes to us via EITb:
Txapela buruan eta ibili munduan
Basque beret hits ABC's prime time
"Live with Regis and Kelly" host Regis Philbin dressed a Basque beret before the interview to the U.S. actor Samuel L. Jackson. It was a present of the program's producer, Julen Abio from the Basque Country.
"Txapela buruan eta ibili munduan", a Basque proverb says to talk about the open-minded character of the Basques and their capacity to adapt themselves to life anywhere in the world. And the "txapela", a traditional Basque beret, hit the ABC's prime time just before the interview to Samuel L. Jackson at the "Live with Regis and Kelly" talk show.
Regis Philbin probably got the Basque beret from the producer of the program Julen Abio, born in the Basque Country.
Philbin did not doubt and he dressed the "txapela" as soon as he got it, in an unusual way, and went into the set where Kelly and Samuel L. Jackson were waiting for him.
"I am a Basque, I'm Basque, I'm really, really Basque", Regis says as soon as he sits down. "The Basque beret", Jackson answers. A close-up shows some moments later an embroidery on the "txapela" reading "New York Basque Club".
Julen Abio is the president of the Basque center in New York. Born in the Basque town of Bakio, he has been living in the United States for the last 43 years. He feels Basque and does not miss a chance to make the Basque Country known all over the world. Eitb24.com interviewed him in August.
The best part is to find out that not only Regis is aware of who the Basques are, but also Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson. Congratulations to Julen Abio for his great work.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
"Basque leftists" denounce latest court rulings
The strike was only supported by the LAB trade union, a pro-amnesty movement and the so-called Basque leftist movement. Authorities doubted the legality of the strike call.
The so-called "Basque leftist movement", a pro-amnesty association and the Basque trade union LAB joined a 24-hour general strike on Thursday to protest against the "political, judicial and police repression" the "Basque leftists" are suffering.
The strike was called on Sunday, a day before 14 prominent members of the outlawed party Batasuna were arrested and sent to prison suspected of trying to organise the Basque party.
Spanish authorities doubted the legality of the strike call. Paulino Luesma, the Spanish Interior Ministry's representative in the Basque Country, said on Wednesday the strike call was illegal. Basque Government's Justice Councilor Joseba Azkarraga said it was up to the judges to decide on the legality of the strike call but added the Department of Employment had nor received any notification.
Callers of the strike said the strike sought to protest against the "political, judicial and police repression" the "Basque leftist movement" is suffering and to make an appeal for a "democratic framework and independence".
Spokeswoman for the Basque Government Miren Azkarate did not comment on the strike call but asked to respect the "right to work of those who decide not to support the strike".
24 people arrested
Sabotages in many places of the Basque Country started last night. Today, the first attacks began at 05:00 a.m. (local time GMT+1). Basque police arrested 5 people this morning when they were trying to cut traffic with barricades in Bilbao.
Other two sabotages happened at the underground but after the problems were solved, it started working as usually. Basque police arrested other two people who lowered themselves to the railway track.
On the other hand, some people trying to interrupt traffic in other places of the Basque Country were also arrested. This kind of protests happened in Bilbao, Errenteria, Azpeitia, Pasaia, Sestao and Portugalete, among others. A total of 24 arrests happened.
In a communiqué, the organisers of one of the sabotages said "it was a peaceful protest against persecution of ideas, against the state of emergency imposed by the ruling socialists, and in favour of democratic solutions".
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
More so, you will not read anything about Egunkaria in this year's RSF report on freedom of press.
This not comes to us thanks to EITB:
5 years without “Egunkaria”
Basque figures say “the Basque language is being criminalized”
Several Basque figures reminded the Basque society the tragic anniversary of the banning of the Basque newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria. They have organized a rally in Andoain February 20 to protest against it.
Several political representatives of Basque parties PNV, EA, EB-Berdeak and Aralar and trade unions ELA, LAB and CCOO, members of the Royal Academy of the Basque language, writers, singers, poets and football players among others support those accused over Egunkaria case and they pointed out that not only the newspaper is being criminalized but everything linked to the Basque language itself.
Moreover, they made an appeal to attend a rally in support of “the critical conscience of the Basque society”.
They said that the Constitution, the statutes and the public administrations are in charge of the Basque language and the Basque culture but some social organizations “manipulate everything and they linked them to the Basque armed group ETA”.
February 20 marks the 5th anniversary since the Spanish Civil Guard banned the Basque newspaper Euskaldunon Egunkaria, following the ruling by the Spanish judge Juan del Olmo.
The group supporting the accused over Egunkaria case and the newspaper itself reminded everybody that was a fateful day and they presented a report to make an appeal to demonstrate against this case so that it is not forgotten.
The rally is going to be in the Basque town of Andoain February 20, to mark the 5th anniversary of the banning.
Five years later, the trial has not been celebrated yet. The judge said the newspaper was linked to the Basque armed group ETA in order to ban it, but according to the Public Prosecutor of the Spanish High Court that was not true.
The Public Prosecutor’s office did not summit any accusation but it seems unavoidable that the trial must be celebrated.
If found guilty, the 12 accused could face 300 years prison sentence.
And lets not forget that Martxelo Otamendi and a number of those arrested on that infamous date were tortured during the time they were held incommunicado.
With the support of the big media they were able to gather 5,000 signatures from among 40 million Spaniards while the Basque camp was able to obtain 3,000 signatures from among 3 million Basques, if the percentage was not enough, the winners achieved that amount in one week only while their opponents had a full month to try to expand Spain's posture on freedom of speech.
Here you have the note from The Stanford Daily:
Basque debate continues
Second petition surfaces in support of President Ibarretxe’s arrival
February 13, 2008
By Kamil Dada
In anticipation of Thursday’s visit by the Basque Government president, a maelstrom of international controversy has surfaced. Stanford’s plans to host Juan Jose Ibarretxe has garnered coverage from both U.S. and Spanish media outlets, including the two largest Spanish national newspapers, El Pais and El Mundo.
A petition protesting Ibarretxe’s talk had garnered over 5,000 signatures as of Tuesday. However, within the last two weeks, another petition has emerged in support of the lecture. It has since received over 3,000 signatures.
The second petition calls on Stanford “to disregard the petitions of groups that pretend to obstruct freedom of speech.” It further argues that “everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
The democratically elected president’s visit has led to deep divisions over whether the leader should be allowed to speak on campus in the current format.
Rafael Dobado Gonzalez, a professor of history and economic institutions at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid who signed the first petition, said he wishes that the audience could be offered a contrasting perspective to Ibarretxe’s. He believes that the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), the political organization that Ibarretxe belongs to, has given long-standing political support to the terrorist organization Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA).
“The PNV opposes to any legal and political measure adopted by the Spanish government in order to weaken ETA,” Gonzalez said. “In short, the PNV exploits the existence of ETA and its methods — killing and kidnapping included — as a way to impose its rule on Basque society and to physically exclude non-Basque nationalists.”
Gonzalez cited an example in which the PNV, including Ibarretxe’s vice president, signed a 1998 secret political agreement with ETA “in order to create a new stage in the confrontation with Spain.” According to El Mundo, the PNV agreed “to break all agreement with [other non-nationalist, political parties] whose goal is the destruction of the Basque Country and the building of Spain.” The leaders of the PNV denied this agreement until the ETA published it in the Spanish newspaper, Gara, on Apr. 30, 2000.
Gonzalez added that he believed the talk would be used as a political platform.
“[Ibarretxe] is not an academic trying to search the truth on a certain scientific issue to relevant colleagues,” he said. “He is a politician attempting [to sell] his political merchandise to a distinguished and influential audience without competitors. At the same time, he will sell [his message] in Spain, especially, in the Basque Country that Stanford is receptive to his message.”
But Jeff Wachtel, special assistant to Stanford President John Hennessy, championed free expression and the exchange of ideas.
“While we recognize that there are those who disagree with Mr. Ibarretxe, the principle of free speech and open discourse on this subject takes priority at a university,” Wachtel said. “President Hennessy’s analysis and personal opinion [on] the political issues that have been raised does not have a bearing on this invitation.”
Elisenda Paluzie, an economics scholar in Spain, was one of the people who signed the second petition, which was in support of the lecture.
“[The protesters’] proposal to either cancel the event altogether, or to invite a political challenger to Ibarretxe’s claims is not only ridiculous but it reveals a deeply inquisitorial, dictatorial and anti-democratic vein,” Paluzie said.
She, too, placed an emphasis on the need for free speech.
“This conference also fulfills one of the roles of the university,” Paluzie said. “A place where one listens to different ideas, discusses and debates political, historical, philosophical issues. It is an opportunity for students and scholars to listen to a political leader from a minority people — the Basques.”
Paluzie further explained that for the majority of Spaniards, the existence of different nations, cultures and languages is a problem.
“They would never recognize [the Basques’] right to self-determination, their right to decide, as stated by President Wilson’s Fourteen Points or the U.N. Charter,” she said. “Ibarretxe’s proposal is about giving the voice and the decision to the Basques.”
A number of the organizers and supporters of the petition are planning to protest during the lecture, which will be held at Arrillaga Alumni Center at 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
“I want the Americans to know that in Europe the nationalists still have some power,” said Jose Jenaro, a Silicon Valley worker who grew up in the Basque city of Vitoria and plans to protest the talk. “They market themselves as peaceful people, but in reality they control the media, the streets and they terrorize their own people.”
Laura Wilson, chief of police at the Department of Public Safety (DPS), said that the protesters should be aware of what constitutes a legal protest.
“What is not permissible is to disrupt an event to the degree that lawful business, such as the ability of a speaker to speak, cannot be continued,” she said. “If an event is closed to the public or tickets are required, it is illegal to obtain entry and a person may be subject to arrest for trespassing. It is also a violation of law to incite others to riot.”
For security reasons, Wilson was not able to discuss the specifics of the security measures for the Ibarretxe event. However, Nick Brunot, a police services officer from the DPS, pointed out that he had been advising the organizers on how to protest legally.
“We have created a demonstration area for the protest group outside the lecture,” he said, “[in order] to allow them to exercise their first amendment right.”