Is Basque President (Lehendakari) and Christian Democratic Basque Nationalist Party leader Juan Jose Ibarretxe taking a leaf out of Donald Rumsfeld’s manual? Regular readers will remember that earlier this week, when questioned about possible negotiations with representatives of armed insurgents in Iraq, Rummy said “I would not make a big deal out of it. Meetings go on frequently with people.” Maybe this is what Ibarretxe should reply to his socialist and PP critics. Really though, this is an important issue. I personally think Ibarretxe is doing the right thing, and for the same reason I think it necessary to ‘talk-in’ if possible the Sunni insurgents in Iraq: because the priority is dealing with Zarqawi and his like. It is time the Basque question inside Spain was resolved, and talking, with whoever, is one of the ways to do this.
“To reach a true dialogue, a round table between the parties, it is necessary to live without ETA violence and without urban violence,” moderate nationalist Ibarretxe told parliament as he was sworn in for a third term…..
He proposed including Batasuna, the banned political mouthpiece of ETA, blamed for some 800 deaths in a four-decade campaign for an independent state straddling the Pyrenees to include parts of southwestern France.
However, the Spanish political establishment, led by the ruling Socialists and the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP) rejected the proposal.
Ibarretxe criticised the Socialists, judging it “contradictory that they (the Socialist government in Madrid) talk with them (Basque radicals) in private but on the other hand reproach us for counting on Batasuna’s presence for this round table of discussions”.