Basque country conflict

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  • Publicado : 3 de diciembre de 2009
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Can the lessons learned from the Irish Peace Process help to create a similar system in the Basque Country?

Rosalia del Rio

After the end of the wars that Europe has lived in the last two hundred years among different countries, now the European Union has to face the new conflicts provoked by the nationalist terrorism. Two of the best examples of this kind of terrorism could be the currentsituation in the Basque Country and the, already solved, problem in Ireland. Some experts assure that the solutions adopted for Ireland might be the first step to resolve terrorism in Spain. On the other hand, Basque and Spanish authors argue that the conditions of ETA (Basque terrorist group) to sign the peace have not relation with the agreement signed between IRA (Irish terrorist group) and theEnglish government in 1994. According to Stanley Payne (2006), professor of the University of Wisconsin “looking for an `Irish solution´ to the Basque Country, they (the governments) will find that the recent settlement taking place in Ulster is not exactly the appointment desired by the Basque nationalists. The `Irish solution´ sought by them is the resolution negotiated with the BritishGovernment in 1922”.

First of all, it is important to remind some of the principal points of Basque and Irish history in order to compare them later.

Basque nationalism arose around 1898. Sabino Arana was the founder of this doctrine. His ideas tried to distinguish radically between the Basque and Latin races and to argue for the political independence of Basque Country. Arana encouraged Basquepopulation to fight again Spain, "the foreign power from which it is necessary to be separated as the first step of progress for the Basque Country”. This nationalist doctrine claims the historical rights the autonomous community had in 1200 when it was self-governing, before its territory was annexed by Castile (founder Kingdom of Spain). However, most of the Spanish population opines that thereasons of Basque nationalism are different. They allude to the economical controversy between the Spanish autonomous community (Basque Country) and state policy - managed by the principle of national solidarity and the state redistribution that tries to compensate the economic differences between areas with deficit and rich ones through the redistribution of the taxes – as the mean reason for theconflict. Meanwhile, ETA (Basque Homeland and Freedom) was created in 1959 with the aim of getting Basque independence. It is a paramilitary and illegal group which since 1959 has assassinated 851 people. The argument of ETA's terrorism was the fighting against the dictator Francisco Franco who tried to suppress Basque nationalism between 1939 and 1975. After he died (1975) Spain established aDemocracy, so ETA ‘changed the argument’ and began to claim the independence for the Basque Country.

With regard to the history of Ireland, during 19th and early 20th century was a constant increase of Irish nationalism among the Roman Catholic population. They did not want to be dominated by Catholic and Southern Irish interests. After that, in 1920 the country was partitioned, creating SouthernIreland and Northern Ireland (which was given the option to choose between joining the new Irish Free State or keep on being part of the United Kingdom). The Northern Ireland parliament chose to do the latter. Although IRA started in 1916, it was in 1972 when the organization became an illegal terrorist group. It happened after the "Bloody Sunday” when 14 people were killed by gunfire from theBritish Army in the town of Londonderry.
In 1973, sixty per cent of Northern Irish population voted for union with Great Britain. Thus ended 51 years of self-government in Northern Ireland and started a war between Catholics and Protestants that has killed over 3200 people, mostly civilians. In April of 1998, the called “Good Friday Agreement” brought peace between both parties in Northern Ireland....
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