Scottish Support For Basque Peace Process

08 December 2005
SNP Europe Spokesman Alyn Smith MEP has joined a group of international parliamentarians overseeing the Basque peace process.

Mr Smith yesterday took part in a major peace conference at the European Parliament in Brussels, held in support of the "Political Peace Declaration" which has been gaining unprecedented support in the Basque Country.

The "Political Peace Declaration" has been signed by 55 different political parties, faith groups and other organisations.

The friendship group will act as observers and guarantors of ongoing dialogue at this crucial stage in the Basque peace process, and bring an added dimension to the internal Basque discussions.

Speaking after the meeting, Alyn Smith said:

"The Political Peace Declaration shows real promise to take the gun and the bomb out of Basque politics for good. This is the most positive development in the Basque Country in years and needs international help and support to see it to a peaceful and satisfactory conclusion.

"The momentum that this process has gained has been remarkable, but to proceed to the next stage we as outsiders can help to break down some of the barriers of mistrust that still bedevil the talks.

"While there are now 55 different organisations and political parties signed up to the agreement, not all Basque or Spanish parties have signed up to the principle that dialogue is the only way forward. I hope that the involvement of friendly outsiders can help to move these talks forward.

"As an outsider I am not in a position to say where that dialogue should go, but the principle of the friendship group is that we will act as honest brokers in our dealings with all parties.

"The SNP has a long tradition of reaching out to other lands and I am honoured to be able to continue that. Scotland as an independent state would be able to play a similar honest broker role in other conflicts, in the same way as Norway has assisted talks in Sri Lanka and the Middle East peace process. But before that time comes I'm glad I can play a role in the Basque country.

ENDS

Note to Editors

Further background to the conflict and the initiative can be supplied on request.