Expatica news

Zapatero and Rajoy in pact against Ibarretxe

14 January 2005

MADRID-Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was poised to make a pact with the leader of the Oppostion against the controversial ‘Ibarretxe plan’ for Basque independence.

Zapatero was meeting Mariano Rajoy, leader of the conservative Popular Party, in Madrid to discuss the matter which has gripped Spanish politics for the past two weeks.

Sources close to both men disclosed they were both about to do a deal to guarantee opposition to the Basque plan.

The move came after the president of the Basque parliament, Juan Maria Atutxa, formally put the plan to the parliament in Madrid.

In talks with president of the national parliament, Manuel Marin, he also proposed setting up a joint committee of deputies from the Basque country and Madrid to study the plan before its expected rejection by the Madrid parliament in March.

Marin firmly rejected the offer, Atuxta told a news conference.

“The Basque people will never understand that this project is rejected without first being being thoroughly examined,” he said.

“We want to negotiate, we want to talk and we certainly do want to pressure.”

The move followed a meeting between Zapatero and the Basque regional premier Juan Jose Ibarretxe on Thursday in which the Spanish prime minister said that his plan for greater independence for the north-east province had no chance of success.

Zapatero told Ibarretxe his proposal “will never be approved and, consequently, never implemented.”

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.

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.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news