The leader of the Basque country regional government has started talks with the Spanish Prime Minister in Madrid. Juan José Ibarratxe is formally presenting José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero with his plan for Basque sovereignty. It is the first meeting between the two men since Zapatero’s socialists won back power at the General Election in March.
Ibarretxe hopes to convince Zapatero to back his Roadmap, which includes proposals to consult the Basque people on the right to self-determination – albeit in vague terms. The Prime Minister has already let it be known that he will reject Ibarretxe’s plan, saying it goes against the Spanish constitution.
The meeting is set against a background of tension, coming after the outlawed Basque group ETA re-ignited its terror campaign with two big bomb-attacks in a week – one of them claiming the life of an officer in the Guardia Civil. The most recent rocked the exclusive Bilbao suburb of Getxo.
Zapatero has said he does not oppose a widening of the Basque country’s autonomous status, as long as it complies with the constitution. But ETA’s last communiqué said that’s not enough, demanding full independence for the region.