López: "The role of the Lehendakari is to tell it like it is and not how we'd like it to be"
In an interview given to the ETB 2 television channel, the Lehendakari has reiterated that ETA and the left-wing Abertzale nationalists are those "who must meet their responsibilities"
The Lehendakari, Patxi López, looked over the major issues affecting the current political landscape in an interview given to the ETB 2 television channel. Amongst other matters, the Lehendakari called upon the democratic parties of the Basque Country "not to allow ourselves to be deceived by siren songs" in reference to the statements made by the terrorist group ETA, and to maintain democratic unity, affirming that it is ETA and the left-wing Abertzale nationalists "who must meet their responsibilities."
"It would be a mistake to think that it is the democrats who need to take a leap in the dark, when the world of Batasuna or of ETA has not met its responsibilities," he warned after reiterating that the Executive that he leads will uphold its democratic principles and the policy of "zero tolerance" in the face of terrorism.The Lehendakari, Patxi López, has reiterated before the democratic political parties that they must not allow themselves to be deceived "by certain siren songs" from the left-wing Abertzale nationalists and ETA and their supporters, stating that Basque society must not be forced to "to take a leap in the dark," but rather that the next step is "their responsibility." "If the facts show and certify that that world has abandoned violence and is working with all of us to end terrorism in the Basque Country, that world will be able to present itself for elections, participate in politics and be present in our institutions," the Lehendakari stated, affirming his belief that "we must not open doors that they do not want to open themselves."
The half-hour long interview that the Lehendakari gave to ETB 2 focused on this and other matters.
During the interview, the Lehendakari recognised that "it appears that the world of Batasuna has finally understood that, in order to engage in politics, it must accept that only democratic tools serve, whereby it must permanently break all ties with the world of violence." However, López stated that this step is "their responsibility" and that "we must not open doors that they do not want to open themselves."
"It would be a mistake to think that it is the democrats who need to take a leap in the dark, when the world of Batasuna or of ETA has not has not met its responsibilities," he stated, reaffirming the policy of "zero tolerance" that his Executive will continue to maintain in the face of terrorism. He went on to say how this policy of "democratic steadfastness" is the very reason that ETA now finds itself in the weakest position of its entire history. "We are agreed that ETA is weaker now than at any point in its history; more and more people are saying that it will achieve absolutely nothing with violence, its own world, those who previously sheltered it, have also decided that it is time for ETA to be consigned to the pages of history. That means that we are making huge steps on the road towards peace," he declared.
The Lehendakari also highlighted his "leadership" in this process, stressing that "the role of the Lehendakari is to tell it how it is, not how we'd like it to be." With regards to the participation of international mediators in the Basque Country, the Lehendakari said that he did not consider it necessary, since peace "must be achieved in the Basque Country and amongst the Basque people."
Speaking of the economy, the Lehendakari announced that the budget for 2011 will be "slightly better" than last year's, owing to the improved economic situation, but that it will continue to be "just as austere and with just as many cutbacks." "[The budget] is not bad, but we are not out of the woods yet," he announced, after revealing that the forecast income will be 9.3% higher than that of last year. The 2011 budget will focus on protecting public services such as health, social policies, and research and development, and the Lehendakari highlighted the "maximum effort" that will be made to promote training. Lanbide will represent an important instrument in this area, following the transfer of active employment policies to the Basque Government.
The Lehendakari defended the role he has played in this issue, declaring that "I have helped self-government." "I am a member of the Basque Socialist Party (PSE) and if I were looking out for the interests of my party in the Basque Country I could have protested, but I am the Lehendakari and I must look out for the interests of the Basque Country as a whole," he stressed. López reminded those present that this transfer had been requested by his government 16 months ago and that it was the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) who had vetoed it. "I have negotiated for self-government. The PNV has negotiated 10 budgets with the Spanish Central Government. In how many negotiations was the transfer of active policies put on the table?" the Lehendakari asked, before answering his own question: "none". He also stated that he was happy as a result of the PNV's return to the path of self-government and the Statute.
Finally, the Lehendakari once again defended the modification of the Basque tax system following the elections in May. "This is not just a debate over what taxes go up or what taxes go down; this is a debate about what model we want for our country," he declared, going on to add that the first step was to define that model and then to see "how we will pay for it." The Lehendakari pointed out that Scandinavian countries have a tax burden of 48%, whilst in the Basque Country it stands at only 30%. "We must clarify what we want and then how we are to pay for it, without rushing matters," he added.