Organized by the Department of Basque Studies at the University of Liverpool, the program of the Manuel Irujo Fellowship ,created at the center of the Etxepare Basque Institute Etxepare, was closed on March 26 with the seminar An End to the Basque Conflict?, a collective event of the Faculty of History, Language and Culture, in collaboration with the University of the Basque Country and Agirre Lehendakaria Center.
The seminar, attended by speakers of great importance, like Basque President Juan José Ibarretxe, spent a whole day to the analysis of the origin of the Basque conflict and the reasons that complicate its resolution. Among those present were also international experts; Mari Jose Olaziregi, director for the Promotion and Dissemination of the Basque Language, represented the Etxepare Basque Institute. The audience followed the program with great interest and didn`t miss the chance to post questions and talk to the lecturers.
Xabier Irujo (University of Nevada, Reno) opened the seminar by explaining thekey factors that have contributed to ETA’s definitive ceasefire. He also delved into the reasons for the desire to independence of the Basque Country. In his opinion, the reasons that lead to defend independence are mainly related to culture and identity, in the search for a collective identity.
Dr. Kevin Bean (University of Liverpool) made a comparison between the peace processes in Ireland and Euskal Herria, while Professor Richard Gillespie (University of Liverpool) focused on the PNV and the new political status of Euskal Herria. He also documented the historical reasons of the claims of sovereignty in the Basque Country and Catalonia, and detailed the existing strategies at present.
Amaia Agirre (Agirre Center for Social and Political Studies) released the educational program and methodology that is being developed by Agirre Center. The project aims to launch an educational program based on peace and coexistence. The first phase of the plan is already underway -research, collecting testimonials ... - with the participation of somel international universities, one of which is the prestigious Columbia University. Agirre really surprised the audience, and answered several questions after her talk.
And the seminar keynote speech was given by the Basque president, Juan Jose Ibarretxe (Agirre Center for Social and Political Studies). Titled "The Basque Case of Sustainable Human Development", the lecture wished to underline the strategic character of language and culture in economic development. Ibarretxe put the Basque Country on the map using a number of economic indicators, and specially highlighting the significant role played by culture in the country´s growth. In fact, he noted, Euskadi was on the 3rd place in the 2007 Human Development Index, after Iceland and Norway.
In this context, the Basque president said that the defense of the Basque language and culture is not a mere political act, not an issue linked exclusively to the identity or the folklore, but also an important economic activity that must be understood within the Sustainable Human Development. And he claimed social innovation as a means for Basque society to remain a pioneer in the future.