Alyn Pledges Support for End to ETA Violence

19 October 2011

SNP MEP for Scotland and member of the Parliament's Basque Peace Process MEP Friendship Group Alyn Smith has today (Wednesday) added his voice in support of international negotiations to urge ETA to end their 40-year campaign of violence in the Basque country and elsewhere.

The call echoes a declaration made by delegates to an international peace conference in Donostia/San Sebastian in the Basque Country including ex-UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland and former Prime Minister of Ireland, Bertie Ahern.  Alyn has also endorsed the Declaration which urges ETA to announce, finally, a permanent ceasefire and for major steps to be taken to promote reconciliation.

Alyn said:

"The Basque conflict is Europe's last remaining armed conflict, and it is a long story of heartbreak with no winners, only losers, not least democracy.

"Recent developments show real promise to take the gun and the bomb out of Basque politics for good.  This conference is the most positive development in the Basque Country in years and it is clear the peace process needs considerably more international help and support to see it to a peaceful 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 exist.

"As an outsider I am not in a position to say where that dialogue should go, but the principle of the MEP friendship group is that we will continue to 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 proud to be able to continue that effort.  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."