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An agreed road map

The cross-party accord on the end of ETA is aimed at avoiding counter-productive unilateral initiatives

The agreement reached on the management of the end of ETA, which all of the parties apart from Amaiur and UPyD signed up to on Tuesday, has as one of its more obvious objectives the avoidance of unilateral initiatives that could be inopportune or counterproductive with regard to the key aim of a permanent cessation of violence in the Basque Country. The recent proposal by the UPyD party calling on the government to illegalize the Bildu and Amaiur coalitions is a good example of this kind of initiative.

The decision on the proposal lies with the Constitutional Court, and the chances of it prospering are zero. Bildu has already passed that filter, and Amaiur — which was formed after Bildu was joined by Aralar, whose legality has never been questioned by anyone — will share the same fate. The argument that “new facts” have appeared since the decisions were made by the courts is somewhat surprising given that the most relevant occurrence since the legalization of Bildu has been ETA’s announcement of an end to its armed conflict.

If the government had listened to UPyD, the most likely outcome would have been a defeat that only would have favored the Basque radical left; especially if the initiative had prompted the division of the democratic parties: between the nationalists and the non-nationalists, or between the Popular Party and the Socialists (PSOE). It’s logical, as such, that the Interior Ministry should last week have opposed the UPyD proposal, and instead sought agreement with the Socialists and nationalists to present a united front based on a shared position.

The result has been an agreement driven by the PP, the PSOE and the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), and endorsed by nearly all the rest. Its content barely goes further than questions of principles, but it is significant that it begins by establishing that the announcement made by ETA on October 20 of last year was not just another ceasefire, but rather the end of its terrorist activity, even though the group is trying to resist making its dissolution official. In Congress on Wednesday, Prime Minister Rajoy called on the Amaiur spokesperson to exert influence in order to expedite that dissolution. If the abertzale left were to do that, it would be more than just a rhetorical gesture, but rather a way of manifesting its rejection of scoring political points from a hypothetical negotiated dissolution.

Rise in separatism

If Amaiur does not take this step, it will be a problem. Equally problematic is the citing by the abertzale left of an unresolved “political conflict” as a reason to not condemn atrocities that it kept quiet about at the time, such as the murder of a six-year-old girl in Santa Pola, Alicante, 10 years ago (the bombers responsible were on trial this week). Equally problematic is the rise in separatism that has followed the announcement by ETA. But these are problems that are not resolved by banning parties; the defeat of ETA does not solve them, but it does allow them to be dealt with using political means. That can be the only possible interpretation of the statement by the Interior Ministry that ETA is not now simply a security problem, but also a political one. That is what the PP has ended up admitting, but not UPyD, which refuses to accept that what was convenient before October 20 is now counterproductive.

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