January has seen the celebration of two day conferences intended to share thoughts on the present-day state of our nation. The meetings, organized by the association Naziogintza, were held in Azpeitia and Urruña, counting with the participation of people from different professional and intellectual backgrounds. During fifteen hours, we could share a variety of views on our linguistic, political and sociological situation, with a high degree of coincidence. The participants thought that our nation is in a critical state and it needs new initiatives, because we have come to the end of a period, but drift aimless in the new one.

The Basque nation faces up to a large number of challenges, social, economic, demographic, cultural and environmental, to mention but a few. However, Naziogintza focuses primarily on two of them, both of which were addressed in the seminar, i.e. avoiding national assimilation into France and Spain, and gaining full self-determination.

The seminar was adamant that nation-building is a must in order to progress towards a Basque state. Actually, unless Basque national awareness spreads in our society, the Basque Country will never gain full self-determination.

In the same way, in order to progress towards state-building, we should cluster and bolster the Basque nation, emphasizing the features that make us a nation, especially language. The seminar showed that the most effective instrument available for oppressed peoples to prevent their assimilation is their language.

The goal of Spain and France is the complete assimilation of the Basque nation, for which they have long planned their strategy. The determination of Basque society to maintain its national identity has been considerably weakened in recent times, and Spanish and French cultural and sociological references are gaining ground in our society. To counteract this, we must cultivate both national-building and state-building. We must develop our own Basque thinking based on Basque language in order to eliminate foreign influences. And act towards a Basque state, since that is the instrument necessary to ensure the survival of the Basque nation.

In our opinion, Basque nationalism should be the driving force behind Basque independentism. Welfare cannot be the main argument for independence, because that instrumental independentism mutes, it is circumstantial. Actually, we the Basques not only aspire to live well, but we also want to live comfortably in our own home, not like today, alienated.

When it comes to the linguistic domain, we see with concern the situation. Use of Basque language is spiralling down no matter where, especially in the areas with highest Basque-language prevalence (called arnasguneak). There is a lack of national strategy in the field of language, and Basque culture is largely controlled by public institutions or political parties. Basque-language activism finds now no institutional representation. The activism in favour of Basque language has turned considerably submissive, as public institutions have seduced the Basque world and their official discourse, emphasizing the situation of Basque is good, that we are moving forward, has been believed by people, acting as a demobilizing factor. Reviving activism requires linguistic pressure groups, putting up also new and ambitious proposals.

One such proposal was put forward in the seminar, i.e. linguistic territoriality. In essence, this proposal puts forwards the establishment of the principle of linguistic territoriality in the areas with highest Basque-language prevalence in our nation, as they did in Belgium, Switzerland or Canada. We welcome the proposal, because it would provide practical content and legal support to these areas. However, the subject is complex and must be explained very well to Basque society in order to avoid misunderstandings and misgivings.

Special criticism was raised on Basque nationalist political parties: in the field of Basque language they do not do enough, and Basque language is not among their priorities.

Our socio-political state is no better. In the Southern Basque Country, Basque nationalist political options have accommodated to a state framework. As opposed to Catalonia, there is currently no political conflict or confrontation with the states. Self-determination or independence is not on the agendas of nationalist political parties, because others issues are now their priorities. We believe that the priority must be the unilateral means of initiating an independence process and being able to materialize self-determination, because bilateralism (or tripartism because both states are involved) is impossible when relationship between equals does not exist.

There is nothing to agree with Spain or France on our right to self-determination. A pro-independence movement should not aim at convincing the oppressive state, but exposing its lack of legitimacy.

Finally, in order to unblock the problem of the territorial division of our nation, we believe it is essential to unite it, through the networking of groups and institutions at the level of the whole Basque Country, the dissemination of national projects and, in particular, the strengthening of the Basque language. Basque language is the strongest link that brings the Basque nation together, makes us a nation, and gives name and identity to the Basque Country (Euskal Herria).


This document has been endorsed by the following people:

Luken Etxabe (Azpeitia), Jose Inazio Lz. De Luzuriaga (Donostia), Eneko Bidegain (Hendaia), Joxe Manuel Odriozola (Donostia), Karmelo Landa (Bilbo), Josu Albero (Azpeitia), Miren Elizagarai (Barañain), Joseba Alvarez (Donostia), Tontxu Campos (Barakaldo), Jonjo Agirre (Altsasu), Patxi Otamendi (Agurain), Nerea Markaida (Bermeo), Benat Castorene (Uztaritze), Filipe Bidart (Baigorri), Elena Berazadi (Bera), Patxi Azparren (Pasaia), Edurne Alegria (Urruña), Naroa Sasieta (Agurain), Begotxu Olaizola (Zarautz), Iñaki Lz. De Luzuriaga (Lasarte), Ainara Maya (Irun), Asun Landa (Ea), Xabier Arregi (Donostia), Joxe Azurmendi (Donostia), Andoni Sarriegi (Beasain), Paulo Iztueta (Donostia), Xabier Irujo (Reno, Nevada), Garbiñe Ubeda (Hendaia), Jose Mari Pastor (Hernani), Ibai Iztueta (Gasteiz), Juan Martin Alegria (Alcanar), Maialen Pery (Ainhoa), Joanita Azurmendi (Donostia), Joxe Mari Azurmendi (Donostia), Urtzi Ihitza (Bilbo), Gilen Mejuto (Bilbo), Mikel Urkola (Donostia).