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.
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.