MEPs denounce closure of Basque newspaper

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sat Mar 5 18:10:49 UTC 2005

MEPs denounce closure of Basque newspaper
Davyth Hicks in Barcelona 2/28/2005

Euro-MPs from a variety of countries and political traditions joined
forces in Strasbourg last Wednesday to protest at the ongoing closure of
Egunkaria - the only newspaper in the Basque language. At a press
conference held in the European Parliament, they published a declaration
signed by a variety of MEPs denouncing the ongoing closure of the paper
and protesting at the implications for press freedom. The newspaper was
shut down two years ago.

Speaking in Strasbourg, Bernat Joan MEP (Esquerra Republicana de
Catalunya) said: "As we see with this appalling case of the closure of the
Basque daily paper Egunkaria, the Spanish state does not respect the
fundamental principle of freedom of speech which happens to be a pillar of
the EU. Europe should oblige their current member states to adhere to the
criteria that it seeks to impose upon those countries applying for

Josu Ortuondo MEP (Partido Nacionalista Vasco/Basque National Party) said:
"In the Basque Country we've just had a referendum on the EU Constitution,
which includes as an important part the EU Declaration on Human Rights
whose Article 11 says that "everyone has the right to freedom of
expression". This right includes freedom of opinion and to receive or
transmit information or ideas without hindrance from public authorities
and regardless of borders."

Gorka Knorr (Basque MP from Eusko Alkartasuna, Vice President of Basque
Parliament) said: "We believe that episodes like this are incompatible
with the principles that today reflect the values of the European Union,
particularly now when we've had the ratification of the treaty that will
create the European Constitution. As a result we hope that events such as
this closure of our Basque newspaper Egunkaria, won't take place again in
the European Union and this remorseful anniversary will be seen as a
reminder of basic human rights: freedom of press and the right to

The declaration concludes that: "In these times in which Europe is
attempting to open new spaces for justice, prosperity, freedom and
security, and in which the very text of the Treaty establishing a European
Constitution emphasises the rights of citizens in a clear way, we believe
it necessary to call for the reconsideration of such closure and for the
restoration of the rights of the affected Basque speakers." (Eurolang

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