Ibarretxe plan has no future: Zapatero

13th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

13 January 2005, MADRID-Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was meeting Basque regional premier Juan Jose Ibarretxe as the controversy over the Basque independence plan showed no signs of abating.

13 January 2005

MADRID-Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was meeting Basque regional premier Juan Jose Ibarretxe as the controversy over the Basque independence plan showed no signs of abating.

Zapatero was expected to tell Ibarretxe he was not prepared to enter into negotiations over the proposals to give the Basque Country more independence from Madrid.

Zapatero said he would tell Ibarretxe the "democratic reasons" for his opposition to the plan.

The Spanish premier has said that the so-called Ibarretxe plan is constitutionally unacceptable, would have a negative affect on relations between Spaniards and the Basque people and would not lead anywhere.

But sources close to Ibarretxe said he would attend this meeting at the Moncloa, the seat of government in Madrid, hoping to negotiate.

Ibarretxe has been pressing for a vote on the issue in the Spanish parliament, but has said if it votes against his proposals then he would accept that decision.

The row over the so-called Ibarretxe Plan was re-ignited when the Basque parliament unexpectedly passed the plan on 30 December.

The Basque regional prime minister claims that if his plan is adopted it will force the Basque terrorist organisation ETA to call a truce.

But ETA has said it will not support the plan as it does not go far enough.

Both the government and Opposition claim the plan breaks the Constitution.

Ibarretxe is determined to hold a referendum amid stiff opposition from the Spanish government and the main Opposition parties in Spain.

He wants to create a Basque state "freely associated" with Spain.

At the heart of the talks will be the prime minister's reiteration that the plan violates the 1978 Constitution and the Basque Country's 1979 autonomy statute.

Framed in the guise of a reform of the statute, the Ibarretxe plan is modelled on the status of territories such as Quebec or Puerto Rico and seeks to obtain a system of co-sovereignty for the Basque Country.

In effect it would result in almost total internal control in the region being handed over to the administration in Vitoria, the Basque capital, the definition of Basques as a nation, and a degree of representation abroad independent of Madrid.

Regardless of the Spanish government's opposition and the certainty that the bill will be rejected in Congress, Ibarretxe has stressed that "nothing and no one" will prevent him from holding a referendum on the plan in the region later this year, probably after the Congress vote but before the Basque elections.

How Basques will choose to vote if a public consultation is allowed to go ahead is yet another uncertainty facing the plan.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

 

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