“It is highly unlikely that channel will get any airing in San Sebastián this week.”

As of yet, there’s been no response from Basque terrorist group ETA to the declaration by the great and the good Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, former Norwegian Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Bruntland, Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Former French Minister, Pierre Joxe, International Representative for west Belfast Louth, Gerry Adams, TD, and… ermm… his sometime speech-writer, Tony Blair’s former Chief of Staff, Jonathan Powell.  That’s despite it being what the BBC described as a “carefully choreographed” event.

Not that I’d expect them to be left hanging in the breeze for long.  They wouldn’t do that to Jonathan…

The declaration called “upon ETA to make a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action and to request talks with the governments of Spain and France to address exclusively the consequences of the conflict.”

As the Guardian reported on Sunday

With the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan flying into the Basque country on Monday for talks and a recent call from several hundred Eta prisoners for an end to violence, sources in the Basque country and others involved in the process say the group will make a significant announcement shortly.

Senior members of Socialist prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero’s government have been saying for several weeks that they expect the group to make such a move. Eta is already observing what it terms a “permanent” ceasefire, called in September 2010, though it has broken previous unilateral truces that it had deemed permanent.

While it was unclear exactly what words Eta would use in its forthcoming statement, it looks set to be an irreversible step towards the end of a group that has killed more than 800 people in bomb and pistol attacks across Spain over the past 43 years.

A public appeal from Annan and fellow mediators, including the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, for Eta to embrace peace will provide the group with an excuse for declaring its readiness to abandon arms, according to sources. Radical Basque separatist political leaders would then imitate moves by Adams during the Ulster peace process when, in 2005, he appealed directly for the IRA to lay down its weapons.

Eta was expected to react quickly, though it would stop short of announcing its dissolution. It may follow the IRA’s lead by calling on its members to use exclusively peaceful means without disbanding. Those with experience of Eta, however, insist that the group remains unpredictable.

So far there’s just been a report of the leader of banned Herri Batasuna party, Rufi Etxeberria, expecting a “positive response” from ETA at “a suitable moment”.

[Orchestrated by whom? – Ed]  Funny you should ask…  A report of the announcement of the conference details those behind it.

The Basque Citizen Network for Agreement and Consultation, Lokarri, the International Contact Group (GIC) led by South African lawyer Brian Currin  and four other international foundations will hold a conference in San Sebastian on Monday 17th October designed to promote a resolution to the Basque conflict.

That’s the “social organization” Lokarri, and the International Contact Group (GIC), which has at least one locally recognisable figure on its board.  Although another board member looks more interesting.

The four other international foundations involved are, in no particular order, the Berghof Foundation for Conflict Studies, a private family foundation, the “recently created” Desmond and Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation, who don’t seem to have an online presence, the UK registered charity and international NGO, Conciliation Resources, and the Norwegian Peacebuilding Resource Centre (NOREF).  NOREF is a partner organisation of The Common Security and Defence Policy Mission Analysis Partnership (CSDP MAP).  CSDP MAP was established in 2008 by ISIS Europe.

That’s not to suggest that there is anything untoward taking place.  Just that it’s good know who exactly is pulling the strings involved.

And, as the Guardian’s Henry McDonald points out, there was more than just “talk[s] for 15 years” involved here.  From the Guardian report

As Powell recounts his days wooing the republican movement from violence in effort to persuade Eta and its political wing to follow the same path he will not want to disclose how much the British government actually knew about what was going on inside the IRA during the two Provo ceasefires and the runup to political negotiations leading to the Belfast and later the St Andrews agreements.

Because in the passing caravan of peace-process tourism there is normally no mention of the secret war conducted by the state and its impact in convincing republicans they could not win the war.

Rather it is all sweetness and light; testimonies to how “dialogue” and “talking” persuaded the key violent actors in Northern Ireland to reverse out of the “armed struggle” cul-de-sac and into constitutional politics.

During the discussions in San Sebastián there will be lots of references to the example of Northern Ireland as a light unto other nations embroiled in conflict.

In any realistic analysis it is worth examining exactly how deeply even such a professional outfit as the Provisional IRA was infiltrated by the beginning of the 1990s.

Read the whole thing.

Update  I didn’t think ETA would leave Jonathan waiting for long.

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  • Decimus

    Good luck to them. Any efforts to convince terrorists to stop murdering people are to be welcomed.

    Isn’t it interesting though that PIRA gave its full support to people who wanted to partition part of Spain because they deemed themselves to be of a different nationality?

  • “As Powell recounts his days wooing the republican movement from violence”

    Isn’t Powell over-egging it? London, Dublin, the PRM and senior figures in the Catholic Church were involved in the winding down of militant activity, probably from 1979 onwards.

    Moloney gives the impression that turning senior figures in the PRM was a slow and very delicate process. Dublin civil servants alongside their London opposite numbers were involved in the management of this process from about 1985 and we had the Derry Experiment – a balanced and mutual reduction in security and paramilitary activity – from 1990 or earlier, an arrangement that may well have had MI6 input [same link].

  • Granni Trixie

    Whilst welcoming any action which brings an end to killing, I sense more than a whiff of self serving when one reads of the involvement of key players such as Tony Blair, GA etc.

  • Rory Carr

    Two questions to those who have so far responded:

    What part of Spain do you believe it is that ETA wish to partition, Decimus?

    What precisely is it about some of the signatories of this appeal that you consider to be self-serving in this regard, Granni Trixie, and why should it be considered self-serving only for some but not for others?

  • Decimus

    Rory Carr,

    I believe it is the Basque region of Spain that they wish to partition. Apparently the people there feel that they are a totally different nationality from the rest of the Spanish. What is your opinion of that?

  • Rory Carr

    They of course donot wish to partition their own country, They were simply seeking the secession of their Basque homeland (all of it) from Spanish rule.

    The Basque people by the way do not merely “deem themselves to be of a different nationality” from the rest of Spain, they along with the peoples of Catalonia and Galicia (known as “Little Ireland” due to its rainfall and consequent green aspect) are recognised by the Spanish constitution as separate distnct nationalities and as such are recognised as Autonomous Communities within Spain.

    It might help, if you intend to draw similarities between the Basque Country’s position within Spain and that of Northern Ireland within either the U.K. or within the island of Ireland, to at least familiarise yourself with that area with which you have only limited knowledge before you commit to polemic on the issue.

  • Decimus

    “are recognised by the Spanish constitution as separate distnct nationalities and as such are recognised as Autonomous Communities within Spain.”


    In the unlikely event of a united Ireland would the Provos support the British inhabitants of NI if they embarked on an armed struggle aimed at giving them secession from Irish rule?

  • Pete Baker


    Focus. The original post is not concerned with the claims of ETA.

    Granni T

    “I sense more than a whiff of self serving when one reads of the involvement of key players such as Tony Blair, GA etc.”

    Well, the self serving aspect is there. But those are not key players in this game any more than Kofi Annan, or Bertie Ahern, is.

    What they are is cover. Summoned in at the end game to endorse a, supposedly, “indigenous” deal.

  • Dewi

    Sorry Pete – where’s the headline quote from. Probably being daft but can’t find it.

  • Pete Baker


    “Read the whole thing.”

  • michael-mcivor

    A Guardian source said the ulster peace process-

    now that it is seen as popular world-wide

    Its called the Irish peace process- if you dont mind-

  • Granni Trixie

    Good luck to them all, self serving or not. (I seem to remember that Brian Currin came here from S.Africa to “resolve” the Garvaghy Rd marching problem. It made no difference whatsoever and the problem trundled on for many more years).

  • “Dewi

    “Read the whole thing.”

    Pete, surely you could have got a piece of quality journalism to illustrate your argument. That link reads more like an anti-SF propaganda article than an effort to reflect what happened.

    As I’ve already pointed out on the second post, Moloney and John Lampen’s Derry Peace and Reconciliation Group give a far more accurate flavour of events as the PRM edged closer towards a democratic resolution of the NI Question; Andy Pollak of these parts acquired the DPRG material on behalf of the Opsahl Commission in 1992/3.

  • RG Cuan

    This conference is a very welcome development and is another step in the right direction. The Abertzale Left has called it an ‘historic event’ and all the main parties in the northern and southern Basque Country – except of course the PP – took part.

    It is expected that Eta will make a statement this week or next and then the onus will be on the Spanish and French governments to reply. The Socialists in Madrid have an added incentive to reach an agreement as it’s the only thing that might save next month’s general election for them.

    As for the possibility of any positive outcome in the Basque Country if the right wing PP get back in power… well the frontpage of the conservative ABC on Tuesday branded the international delegation as being ‘In the service of Eta’. That gives a good indication of how far the Spanish right still have to come but hopefully more international pressure will move them along the way.

  • Pete Baker

    Update I didn’t think ETA would leave Jonathan waiting for long.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Fascinating piece in the BelTel In which O Muilleoir appears (on their interpretation at least) to come closer than anyone in his party to acknowledging the terrorist campaign as an historic mistake. I think it’s been apparent for some time that at least as for as the Republic is concerned, SF will continue to hit a glass ceiling until it has its Kruschchev moment. Could this be the first sign of a kite?