Thursday, May 19

Urkullu maintains an invitation for Sánchez to make “reparation” from Spain for the bombing of Gernika

The Lehendakari, Iñigo Urkullu, without much hope, formally maintains an invitation to the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, to participate this Tuesday in the commemorative acts of the eighty-fifth anniversary of the bombing of Gernika during the Civil War, which would mean a “reparation ” from the State, as in 1997, the then President of Germany, Roman Herzog, published a letter apologizing for the actions of the Nazis in support of Francisco Franco. This is an old aspiration of Urkullu since at least 2019. The last times he was reminded in public was on November 20, 2021, coinciding with the anniversary of the dictator’s death, and last Sunday at the Aberri Eguna or day of the Basque homeland. It also tried the same thing before with the Government of Mariano Rajoy and, according to the Basque Presidency, then the PSOE supported the PNV in this initiative.

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But there is a nuance in the debate. And of great historical importance. The original text that the PNV submitted to the Senate in 2017 was going to urge the Spanish Executive to “recognize the responsibility of the State in the bombing of Gernika on April 26, 2017.” But, after the amendments of the socialists and other parties, Spain was asked to denounce the “responsibility of the rebel Army and the subsequent Francoist government” in the attack. It was also extended to other equally affected localities, such as Durango. In the spring of 1937, the legitimate and legal Government of Spain was that of the Second Republic, and the attack was carried out by those who staged a coup against it, supported by two key allies, the Nazis in Germany and the fascists in Italy, who were the legal rulers of both countries. Moreover, in those months it was the first and only time in history that the PNV had a minister in the central government, Manuel de Irujo. On the contrary, other Basque institutions such as the Vitoria City Council were already in the hands of the rebels and decidedly supported the attack.

Sources from the Basque Presidency understand that “obviously” there are differences between the case of Germany and that of Spain, but Urkullu would see Sánchez’s step as important. In November he showed his anger at a visit to a company and to the PSE-EE congress by the president when they could have gone to Gernika together. He has even sent her survivor testimonials by letter. In his speech last Sunday at the Aberri Eguna, Urkullu insisted on summoning the gesture of the current president. In the Urkullu environment they insist that “there has never been any commitment or clear answer” on this matter. Also in other matters, the lehendakari has complained that his letters to La Moncloa do not receive the proper answers in return. Meanwhile, the PNV spokesperson in the Senate, Estefanía Beltrán de Heredia, is going to ask the government on Tuesday, April 26, the very day of the events, if any act of reparation is planned for Gernika.

The memory of Gernika has been in the forefront for weeks and not only because of the anniversary. The war in the Ukraine made Volodímir Zelenski appeal to the solidarity of the Spaniards in Congress, citing the destruction of the provincial town. This Friday it has already been confirmed that the ambassador of that country in Spain, Serhii Pohoreltsev, will go to Gernika together with the Lehendakari. “He will also visit the Museum of La Paz and the Assembly House of Gernika, where he plans to speak before the media. The visit responds to the invitation made by the Lehendakari two weeks ago”, they have indicated from the Basque Government.

“85 years ago this town suffered the first indiscriminate bombardments against the civilian population. Durango, Gernika and so many towns. Then Leuven, Coventry, Warsaw, Dresden, Hiroshima, Grozny, Sarajevo, Beirut, Aleppo. Now Mariupol, Bucha or any other city in Ukraine. President Volodomyr Zelenski remembered Gernika at the Congress of Deputies in Madrid”, said Urkullu at the Aberri Eguna. And he added: “85 years ago the Basque Government tried to ‘humanise war’, especially with refugee children who had to leave the Basque Country. We have been a welcomed people, we are a welcoming people. Now, following the dramatic trail of wars that reach our memory, Ukraine suffers the unilateral aggression of Russia. Thousands of people have had to flee their country. Euskadi is a refuge, Euskadi welcomes. The Basque Country, the Basque Government, the institutions, the third sector and society share a spirit of hospitality and solidarity, a commitment to integration with all migrants and with all asylum seekers”.

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