Basque Autonomous Community Government calls for socio-political accord on Basque

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Thu Dec 22 13:54:04 UTC 2005


Basque Autonomous Community Government calls for socio-political accord on

The BACs Sub-Ministry for Language Policy has presented a commitment and
the main lines of its work for the coming four years. Patxi Baztarrika,
the BAC Governments Deputy Minister for Language Policy, insisted
yesterday on the need to achieve a new socio-political accord aimed at
normalising the Basque language. He made these declarations while
presenting a document on the main lines of the work which the Sub-Ministry
he heads has drawn up and the commitments it has made for the next four
years. The document refers to a policy aimed at encouraging the use of the
language, moves to make adults literate in Basque, making the workplace
Basque-speaking, making the Administration Basque-speaking and many other
issues, but over and above all this he has put the need to achieve an
accord on the Basque language.

"We are proposing that ongoing social and political dialogue on linguistic
normalisation should be encouraged. Dialogue that is calm, open, critical,
without preconceptions, transparent and honest. Because Euskara (the
Basque language) needs and deserves the broadest consensus possible." He
added that such an accord would need to span many years. "If we achieve a
broad-based accord, it will be much easier to win public support for

Baztarrika spoke at length on the socio-political accord Basque needs, but
he provided few details on how this was to be achieved. "We have a scheme
and we will be implementing it. We are planning to launch a debate which
will review what has been achieved so far and specify priorities for the
future. All political sectors and the public at large must have a place in
this debate."

He said he was prepared to expand the socio-political accord on Basque in
all directions. He pointed out that the Basque Law of 1982 was passed with
specific consensus, but that level of consensus was different today,
because those who were in favour of the law and who did not oppose it hold
a different view today. At the same time he stressed that it was advisable
to take Basque out of daily political squabbles. The normalisation of
Basque is indispensable for consolidating our society and making it more
democratic. If the situation of Basque is normal, the whole of society
will be healthier. Baztarrika insisted that involving Basque speakers and
attracting non-Basque speakers was needed to make this socio-political
agreement truly effective. He did, however, stress that the final
objective was to make society truly bilingual. But to achieve this, he
pointed out that monolingual citizens needed to be made aware that our
society is diglossic. Society needs to be aware that Basque speakers
experience difficulties living in Basque here. Not even the best law in
the world will suffice. The involvement of the whole of society is needed:
for those who know Basque to use it; and for those who don't, to be
brought into closer contact with the language.

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