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Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 1993
The summer of 1993 will be remembered for the moment when there arose a significant increase in the response of both male and female citizens in Euskal Herria to violence, and specifically to the kidnapping of Julio Iglesias Zamora. This wish to show their rejection to such a clear violation of Human Rights has managed to mobilize important sectors of the population which, until now, had not taken an active part in the work to achieve peace, which has meant an important step forward in this task.
The spontaneous reaction of all the workers in Ikusi deserves special mention, since it has served as a real example to be imitated by all of those who wish to live in a Euskal Herria in peace and freedom.
Within this context of movements for the liberation of Julio Iglesias Zamora, the blue ribbon campaign was another story in the civic commitment against violence. This small piece of cloth was a whole exercise in individual freedom, a form of public expression which broke through fear and indifference and whose meaning has penetrated deeply into society.
But neither do we want to exaggerate if we say that the summer of 1993 will remain in the history of this country as the moment when the efforts of the Basque society to build peaceful coexistence have been finally recognised in the State as a whole. However, this recognition, as positive as it is important, must not be built on a mistaken idea. The "discovery" of a Basque society mobilised against violence must not be confused with the nonexistence, before now, of a society which was actively committed to the construction of a peaceful and free coexistence.
The Basque society has been involved in massive, public movements against terrorism and in favour of the construction of a peaceful, reconciled society for years. Let us remember the great demonstration on October 28, 1978 which, with the slogan "a free, peaceful Euskadi" was convened and supported by different political and trade union forces. Or the great demonstration on February 5, 1981, as a protest against the murder of the engineer José María Ryan, who had been kidnapped. Or the demonstration instigated by the universities of Deusto after the murder of Enrique Casas. Or the tribute to Yoyes in Ordizia, in October 1986 and the striking campaign "Against silence" which, immediately after her murder was promoted by different civic organisations.
There have been many, varied moments when the Basque society has shown its rejection to violence. As it has done, on the other hand, each time that it has taken part, freely, in the consecutive elections, supporting, in the great majority, political parties which have abandoned violence to make their projects prosper. Nothing could be further, then, from the image of an apathetic, passive and terrified society.
There is no doubt however that something has changed between 1986 and today.
With the creation of the Association for Peace in Euskal Herria, as from that year the Basque society has had an instrument with which to express its rejection to violence extensively and permanently.
When talking about the history of the Association, it is necessary to refer to those spontaneous, inconnected actions which began in a natural way. Some of them arose as a specific reaction to a murder with a special virulence or social repercussion. It was through this type of initiative that the seed of civic, peaceful protest against the violence phenomenon was sown. A seed which has given fruit in the 147 groups which at present make up the Association for Peace in Euskal Herria, developing their work for peace in the different suburbs, villages, universities and schools in the Basque Country and Navarra.
Through these years a series of ceremonies have been carried out which have acquired great relevance, but undoubtedly, that which has marked the history of this Association, and which gives it its name, has been the Gesture for Peace. Its silent demonstrations which take place the day after a death which has its cause in the exercise of political violence in Euskal Herria. This action is supported by the deep conviction that the right to life is above all other political idea or project. They are gestures which fundamentally denounce the loss of human life, and that is why they are carried out independently of the circumstances of the act or the condition of the victim.
Since its beginnings, the Association for Peace has made its own the well known phrase from Ghandi: "There are no ways for peace, peace is the way", converting it into an authentic pillar of its message and its practice. In fact, the men and women who, in one way or another, have made the message and the practice of Association for Peace their own, are people with very different ideologies and political options, but with one conviction in common: that our ideas and projects will only have a meaning if we develop them and defend them through peaceful means. These are the only ones which will allow us to build a future in peace for everyone and for ever.
The peace which we are claiming is a peace for everyone, because it does not reflect any idea or project defended by peaceful, democratic means. We have rejected violence and we have opted for the word, reason and dialogue.
This is very important. In Euskal Herria, there are no perverse ideas only perverse means. Nobody must be asked to give up his ideas; only that he makes them prosper by resorting to the only really human means, which are the means of free discussion and conviction. Let us not put, then, more limitations on ideas than those which are derived from the social adhesion which they achieve. All political ideas can be defended by peaceful, democratic means. This statement means, in the first place, that it is completely illegitimate to resort to violence. But it must also be possible for any idea to be put forward and developed within the democratic context.
In this way, the peace that we desire will be a peace for all of us, because it will be built by all of us. All society has an important, active role in the construction of a future in peace and in overcoming the deep, social fissure which violence has created.
But the peace which we are demanding is also a peace for ever. Partial or short term solutions are no good to us. We must close this page of our history, avoiding the temptation to go back. A peace and coexistence for ever must be based on human rights, democratic principles and the tolerance of political options.
A peace for ever, supported on these pillars, implies a serious option for reconciliation. Sometimes we tend to think that this will be established in a ceremony, a moment, a photo or an agreement. But reconciliation cannot be nor will be fruit of a moment, but of a process in which it will be necessary for all society to take part to heal the wounds caused through so many years of violence.
The peace for ever which we are looking forward to can only be fruit of the recovery for society of those who tolerate or use violence. It would be a question of guiding this group back to an open, plural and only then reconciled society.
Many times we state that our desire is for there to be a solution to the problem of violence without winners or losers. But we cannot deceive ourselves. In this terrible history of violence there are already losers and they are all the direct victims of terrorism. There is no way of doing them justice. We send out from here our message of solidarity and support to let them know that we are many who deeply regret the irreparable damage caused.
Our final aim is to reach a society which is reconciled with itself, where values prevail like that which gives its name to the award received, Concord, where everyone can live and express themselves freely, where there is a plurality and tolerance of ideas and projects, defended peacefully.
This Prince of Asturias Award for Concord is in recognition to all the society in Euskal Herria who want peace and are working to build it. In the minutes which mention the granting of this Award to the Association for Peace they emphasise the ways in which we have developed all our activity "really public-spirited ways, which make their example spread far beyond the phenomenon which was responsible for it".
This award is especially for all those citizens who one day decided to demonstrate, publicly, their rejection to the situation of violence which we were living, carrying out this demonstration in their village, in their suburb, in their workplace, in front of their fellow citizens, and who still maintain this attitude in a firm, permanent way.
With this award for Concord an important step has been taken in the process of overcoming the separation that the violence could have generated between Euskal Herria and the rest of Spanish State.
In this sense, from the Basque Country and Navarra, we have gratefully received as a little impulse and support, the different ceremonies and events which have taken place this summer in other parts of the State, which apart from showing their rejection of violence, have made a common cause with the work for peace carried out by the Basque people.
We have to continue offering an effective channel to develop the collective conscience in favour of peace. That's enough of brushing aside any citizen's most elemental rights, that's enough of imposing one's own opinion on the rest.
Our point of view wants to be, above all, that of the victims. That of the men and women who can no longer ask to be allowed to live. Theirs is the silent cry of those who, for at least fifteen minutes in suburbs, villages and teaching centres, denounce the useless, unfair loss of human lives.
Our task is still today of making it possible for this society to consolidate the values which establish a Culture of Peace. The value of human life, as a first fundamental right; the value of the difference of the other, expressed in the positive recognition of the pluralism of ideas and positions and as something which contributes to the making of culture and a people; the value of reconciliation, as that which allows us to grow humanly. In short, we want to humbly contribute to the ethical regeneration of civic coexistence.
From the Association for Peace we have bet very heavily on a future in peace for Euskal Herria. It is within our reach, but we still need the drive of everyone to banish violence from our system of values and to repair coexistence. The latest attack in Bilbao has reminded us once again of how easy it can be to kill and the need for constant movements in defence of coexistence.
Ea gure ondorengoek esan ahal izango duten gaur egungo hiritarrok bakearen bideari jarraltzea erabaki genuela, bakea denontzat eta betiko.
(If only those who follow us in the future could say that the citizens of our time decided to follow the way of peace for everyone and forever).
Thank you very much to everybody. Eskerrik asko danori.
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