Showdown over Basque independence plan

31st January 2005, Comments 0 comments

31 January 2005, BILBAO-ETA bombed a tourist hotel on the eve of a debate over a controversial plan for greater Basque independence in the Spanish parliament.

31 January 2005

BILBAO-ETA bombed a tourist hotel on the eve of a debate over a controversial plan for greater Basque independence in the Spanish parliament.

The Basque prime minister Juan José Ibarretxe will travel alone to Madrid on Tuesday to try to persuade the Spanish parliament to accept his plan for greater independence for the province.

The Spanish parliament are expected to reject the plan.

The lower house will debate the so-called 'Ibarretxe plan', named after the Basque regional prime minister – two days after the latest ETA bombing at a tourist hotel in Denia, in south-east Spain.

One person was slightly injured in the blast on Sunday at the hotel in which a party of elderly British tourists were staying.

Commentators have said it was timed on the eve of the vote on the Ibarretxe-plan to indicate ETA's opposition to the proposal.

The independence plan reached Spain's legislature earlier this month after being approved by the Basque regional parliament in December.

It was supported by moderates, who adamantly reject the use of violence in the region's quest for sovereignty, as well as by remnants of Batasuna, a party outlawed by Madrid because of its ties to the terrorist group ETA.

ETA has killed more than 830 people since the late 1960s in its campaign for an independent Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.

The vote on the sovereignty plan in the national legislature was agreed by a consensus among the ruling Socialists, the main conservative opposition Popular Party and a Canary Islands regional grouping.

Those three parties used their majority on the lower house's directorate to reject a motion from the moderate Basques nationalist party - PNV - and the United Left coalition calling for a procedure that would have allowed broader discussion of the initiative in parliament.

Both the PNV and the United Left have said they will challenge the decision before Spain's Constitutional Court.

Under parliamentary procedure, the lower house will meet to hear a defence of the sovereignty project by three members of the Basque regional parliament, which will be followed by statements from each legislative bloc setting out its position on the issue.

Deputies will then proceed to vote down the initiative.

The controversial plan calls for the Basque provinces to be a state "freely associated" with Spain and for Madrid to officially recognize a distinct "Basque nationality compatible with Spanish nationality."

The region already enjoys a substantial degree of self-government by virtue of a 1982 autonomy statute that gives the Basques the right to maintain their own administration, parliament and police force, control local taxation and spending and run their own educational and health-care systems.

Ibarretxe has vowed to submit the plan to a referendum in the Basque region even if the national parliament rejects it.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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