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Senior Sinn Féin delegation in the Basque Country

16 September, 2010 - by Alex Maskey, Martina Anderson MEP


A Sinn Féin delegation including MEP Bairbre de Brún and Alex Maskey MLA will be visiting the Basque Country to take soundings on the opportunities presented for developing the peace process following ETA’s statement declaring a ceasefire.


Speaking from the Basque Country Mr Maskey said:


“This visit to the Basque Country is at the invitation of the Abertzale. Sinn Féin has been engaged with the situation in the Basque Country for some time. We are keen to share our experiences of peace building in Ireland with people here and take soundings on the ground in the wake of the recent ETA statement.


“Our experience is that inclusive dialogue is key to political progress in conflict resolution. In Ireland, that was the point at which progress tilted in the direction of becoming irreversible.” CRÍOCH


NOTES TO EDITORS:


ETA cessation: Background Note:


There is a long affinity between Irish republicans and the Basque people.
Gerry Adams and other senior party leaders have been there many times.
Since the collapse of the ETA cessation in December 2006 there have been behind the scenes efforts to restore the peace process.
These have involved Gerry Adams and other senior Sinn Féin activists engaging in an ongoing dialogue with Batasuna and others in an effort to rebuild the stalled Basque peace process.
In February at a conference of the Abertzale Left Regional Assemblies, which includes Batasuna, a new political strategy for progress was agreed.
It draws heavily on the peace process in Ireland, including a specific reference to the Mitchell Principles, and commits Abertzale Left to using ‘exclusively political and democratic means’ to advance its political objectives.
It seeks to advance political change “in a complete absence of violence and without interference’ and ‘conducted in accordance with the Mitchell Principles.’ And its political goal is achieve a “stable and lasting peace in the Basque country.”
It is crucial that the same mistakes made in 2006 are not repeated. Dialogue is urgently required.
The Basque separatist groups have spent a lot of time internally agreeing a new way forward. ETA has now announced its cessation. There is now an opportunity for progress which I hope the Spanish government will grasp.
There is also an important role for the international community in encouraging a resurgent peace process in the Basque country.

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