_ “Constitutional Spain asserts freedom and equality, the Rule of Law and solidarity (…) We must assert the legitimacy of our laws and Constitution"
_ “We are facing a challenge which contrasts the most reactionary and destructive nationalism to the European civic culture of our Constitution”
_ “We must end the fraud on national sovereignty that nationalism is carrying out”
_ “Nationalism asks for the impossible: the scrapping of the nation and the State”
_ “We must assert the national reality of Spain before the grotesque historical distortions of those who reject a community made of free and equal citizens”
_ “Society needs to find in institutions the leadership of those who have to open the way and take the lead”
_ Victims of terrorism.- “Today, once again, normalisation of silence, oblivion and confusion are sought. If there is any pending normalization, it is that of values”
_ “Any political initiative which aims to ‘contextualize’, ‘excuse’, or ‘interpret’ the reality of what terrorism has done, deserves nothing but an absolute rejection”
_ “Doing justice means making the factual defeat of terrorism the culmination of our constitutional pact (…) It means that we win and they lose”
_ “Abandoning violence cannot just mean to stop using it as of now, but also admitting that it should never have been used”
_ “Three conditions to get rid of terror: enforcing the law with all its consequences, preventing its destructive project from finding oxygen in its political partners, and admitting that it is radical
José María Aznar, former Prime Minister of Spain and President of FAES Foundation, stated on Monday, October 14 in San Sebastián that “the greatest task of today’s Spain is building, arranging and launching a great national policy based on the constitutional principles.” Aznar stressed that the “constitutional Spain asserts freedom and equality, the Rule of Law and solidarity”, and added that “we must assert the legitimacy of our laws and Constitution.” According to him, “we are facing a challenge which contrasts the most reactionary and destructive nationalism to the European civic culture of our Constitution”.
Aznar made these statements at the launch and presentation of Cuando la maldad golpea, a book comprising testimonies from victims of terrorism. María San Gil, Ángeles Pedraza, President of the Victims of Terrorism Association, Íñigo Gómez-Pineda, President of Villacisneros Foundation, and Ana Velasco, one of the authors of the book, also participated in the event. When taking the floor, Aznar stated that “doing justice means making the factual defeat of terrorism the culmination of our constitutional pact.” He also stated that “there are not two sides negotiating anything. Any political initiative which aims to ‘contextualize’, ‘excuse’, ‘disguise’ or ‘interpret’ the harsh reality of what terrorism has done, deserves nothing but an absolute and exemplary rejection by those who support the nation of citizens.” He therefore appealed to “remaining cautious about all the rhetoric surrounding reports, projects and plans which evade essential truths.”
Aznar highlighted that “in Basque politics, much has been said about normalisation. Today, once again, normalisation of silence, oblivion and confusion are sought. If there is any pending normalisation, it is that of values: the values of life, freedom, law, solidarity and civil coexistence”. According to him, certain conditions are required for us to get rid of terror: enforcing the law with all its consequences, an effective and continued action of the Rule of Law, preventing its destructive project from finding in its political partners the oxygen needed to overcome its operative defeat, and admitting that it does not have and never has had any justification, as it is radically illegitimate. Lastly, Aznar stated that “abandoning violence cannot just mean to stop using it as of now, but also admitting that it should never have been used.”
Address delivered by José María Aznar:
“THE HISTORY of Spanish terrorism is too cruel for us to ignore everything that we have learnt. All the suffering which victims have gone through. Everything that they have taught and keep teaching us every day, both the victims and those who support them, like Villacisneros Foundation does with this and other praiseworthy initiatives.
In this book, which we launched some months ago in Guadarrama and which we bring today to San Sebastián, some victims of terrorism relate their suffering and show their courage.
Testimonies of stolen or wounded lives, physically or emotionally, give us the strength and moral clarity to continue undertaking a yet unfinished task: the victory of Spanish democracy and the complete and unconditional defeat of terrorism. The rejection of its presence among us, and of it forcing or conditioning our acts.
It's not true that victims of terrorism belong to the past, but quite the opposite. Precisely because they are here bearing witness of how things are and were, some people make an effort to change the way their stories are told. To conceal them, to lie about them, and even to make them look guilty of their own suffering and to make things stay as they are.
Today, the sense of the victims' death and pain is still socially and politically disputed, even now, the meaning of their sacrifice has not yet been established as it should be and as it deserves. For that reason, this is not a book of past pages. It is a book of pages that need to be read, of testimonies to which we need to return, of experiences of pain that we need to feel as if they were ours.
Much has been said about normalisation in Basque politics. By using that term, some people have tried to make normal what was not. Today, once again, normalisation of silence, normalisation of oblivion and of both historical and moral confusion are sought. I believe that, if there is any pending normalisation, it is that of values: the values of life, freedom, law, solidarity and civil coexistence.
We can certainly hope for a future where terrorism does not longer exist. Specifically to achieve that objective, the party and the governments I led during eight years pursued a commitment which rejected resignation and relinquishment. But, if we want a future without terror, we cannot act as if terror had never existed. Because, should we act as if terror had not existed, we would fall for something worse than frivolity, we would be responsible for a radical injustice toward victims and we would make a political mistake of historical dimensions.
The path which has led us to the greatest successes against terrorism leaves few doubts. A future without terror, free of its shadow and its threat requires, in my opinion, three conditions.
Firstly, we need to enforce the law with all its consequences. An effective and continued action of the Rule of Law, security forces, judges and courts, and the penitentiary system in the battle against a criminal phenomenon which has acquired very serious responsibilities which still need to be faced by its perpetrators.
Secondly, we need to prevent terrorism, its criminal career and its destructive project (its means and its aims) from finding in its political partners the oxygen needed to overcome its operative defeat. We are currently witnessing how the disguise with which they managed to return to legality is falling apart, and how its real face has emerged, that of intimidation and insult as the prelude to the violence which they have never, ever, stopped justifying. They want to return to impunity and silence the Basques again. And that is not the future, it is the worst past which this society has ever suffered.
The third condition seems to me as clear as the others. It is asserting that terrorism does not have and has never had any justification, that it is radically illegitimate, that no murderer can ever claim to return with their heads held high, or expect us to recognize that it was right for them to murder, unless we are willing to let others follow their perverse example, led by the exaltation of violence and its perpetrators.
There can be no commitment on the pain of victims, or any comparisons between the suffering of victims and terrorists. There can be no comparison between the consequences of violence chosen by terrorists (secrecy and prison) and the suffering of victims, who do not choose to be so. I believe that we need to remain cautious about all the rhetoric surrounding reports, projects and plans which evade essential truths. If anyone wants to search for these truths, they may find them in a clear and exemplary way in this book.
It is our responsibility to establish the sense of having faced terror in the most valuable way, to establish it irrevocably in the heart of our society. To establish that victims have not been an instrument for terrorists to achieve their goals, but the best expression of our resistance against it. To make the fact that everything was worth it because there was not any other decent path a reality, and that this path has led us to where we wanted to go: a victory that has to take place on our terms, those of democrats, and not on theirs, those of terrorists.
Only with the truth, but with the whole truth; only with the law, but the whole law; only with justice, but the whole justice.
Those who ask for remembrance, dignity and justice, assert the value of our political principles in the hardest times. They refuse to weaken the basis of our coexistence and security, and choose to strengthen them with their personal sacrifice. Therefore, it is not just about remembering them, but about recognizing their priceless generosity in favour of our freedom–that of each of us–,and letting their example guide our everyday actions.
Doing justice means preserving the freedom for which many people have died intact. It means making the effective defeat of terrorism the culmination of our constitutional pact, our political coexistence pact.
Doing justice means understanding that terrorists are not to be asked for their opinion, but to fulfil their responsibilities, and that it is the duty of institutions to make those responsibilities be demanded and fulfilled under the strictest terms envisaged, and therefore allowed, by the law.
Doing justice means understanding that some people deserve to win and others deserve to be defeated, that victory needs to be that of victims and their memories about the shameful story that praises their murderers.
Doing justice, in short, means that we win and they lose.
There are not two sides negotiating anything. Any political initiative which aims to ‘contextualise’, ‘excuse’, ‘disguise’ or ‘interpret' the harsh reality of what terrorism, has done deserves nothing but an absolute and exemplary rejection by those who support the nation of citizens.
In order to point at those who try to make it disappear by all means and to terminate once and for all with a path which only benefits terrorists, its accomplices and its beneficiaries. A path which is not ours.
The majority principle is only applied in democracy, not outside it. Only those who respect freedom and everyone’s rights can be part of democracy. No majority can excuse, silence or validate murder, coercion or threat.
Abandoning violence cannot just mean to stop using it as of now, but also clearly admitting that it should never have been used, as well as a duly subordination to the law. It is not about creating new conditions according to which violence has no sense for terrorists, but about making society understand that violence has not ever been justified, that Spain did not deserve it, that nothing legitimises terrorism. That victims are completely innocent and terrorists are completely guilty.
Some people have tried to create, in the first place, the lie that victims do not exist. Secondly, the fiction that even though victims do exist, they have not been victims of anyone, or, if any, they have been victims of a given circumstance or conflict, which is nothing but a hideous lie.
That is just what we aim to recall here today. There is no terrorism without terrorists. And we are not going to accept oblivion. Let nobody assume that we are going to act as if terrorism had never existed. As if it does not sill exist in many of its forms.
In the last decades, we have experienced, as Spaniards and because we are Spanish, an extraordinary history. Some people fight against it endlessly. They show a hostility that, even though it is a minority, it is organized and ready to go. It must come up against a clear statement of the Constitution and the unity that it consecrates.
The greatest political task of today’s Spain is building, arranging and launching a great national policy based on the constitutional principles. A great and attractive civic project capable of encouraging society and lending it its determined and permanent support. Every time we have done it that way, we have been able to defeat the threats to our freedom, serious as they may have been.
In order to face this task, society needs to find in institutions much more than understanding or support. Much more than an ally or a supporter. Society needs to find in institutions the leadership of those who have to open the way and take the lead, especially where it is needed the most.
Spain is not, it cannot be, a simple idea or opinion among others. It is not, it cannot be so because there is a Constitution in force, approved by a referendum which expresses the will of the Spanish nation. Spain has to be a certain, unquestionable, foreseeable legal reality, as this has been the will of the Spaniards, comprised in our Constitution.
There is no legal, historic or political title which entitles anyone to ignore, breach, stop or postpone it. Nobody can be entitled to do so. Therefore, anyone who ignores, breaches, stops or postpones it is acting against the law and the will of the nation, and must suffer, with no doubts whatsoever, the consequences of their actions.
There is no restraint when it comes to accepting illegality. There is no caution when it comes to allowing the exercising of a power by someone who is not entitled to do so and for something that should not be done; or when it comes to avoiding the exercising of a power by someone entitled to do so and for something that has to be done. There is no tolerance when it comes to accepting the absence or emptiness of the Rule of Law. It is not a virtue of the State to allow to be challenged when it is founded on law and it serves freedom. Because that would only lead to the helplessness of democrats and the jubilation of those who are not.
Constitutional Spain asserts freedom and equality, the Rule of Law and solidarity. It is a Spain made of people who have not agreed on everything, but have on the main issues, those which enable us to live in the same territory even though we think differently; people who respect a basic civic agreement without which pacific life would be impossible. Not just ours, but everyone’s.
The Rule of Law which we stand up for cannot be stopped or applied by political calculation, as that would hurt Spanish democracy and leave its institutions open to suspicion.
In 1978, the Spanish nation solemnly asserted that their only decent political system was the democratic Rule of Law. We Spaniards did it.
That is the reason why some people have decided to break up with Spain, to break up with the principles of democracy. They try to drag after them a whole society, to turn it into what they are. And we cannot stay at the side while that political project moves forward.
We must assert the legitimacy of our Constitution and our laws.
We must assert and exercise our democratically expressed political will.
We must assert and exercise our freedoms and rights, the ones which are infringed when our law is breached.
We must end the fraud on national sovereignty that nationalism is carrying out. The party which wins the regional elections, wins the constituted power, not the constituent power.
We must assert the national reality of Spain before the grotesque historical distortions subdued by those who reject a community made of free and equal citizens.
And, to that end, we do not need to pretend to be stateless, people without ties, nor to be superficial in order to safeguard ourselves from the accusation of undercover antagonistic nationalism. We must act as Spaniards who are serenely proud to be so, because the nation which we stand up for has nothing to do with the regressive nationalist project.
Asserting the Constitution means keeping the historical opportunity that we gained with it, it means preserving our harmony, our peaceful coexistence, our citizenship.
The Spanish nation, the nation of citizens, is much more valuable than the attempts of those who find in it resistance to their political projects. It is so because of its commitment to the defence of human rights and social and cultural pluralism. It is so because of the personal consideration of the human being, for the limitation and surveillance of the political power, for its respect toward the Rule of Law.
All this makes us different and better. Spaniards need to be aware of this difference and this truly radical civic superiority, and find in it the courage to confront effectively and intelligently those who aim to hurt us.
We do not only defend what is ours because it is ours, we defend it because it is good and it is everyone’s. Those who seek secession do not only expect a territorial separation, but also and above all a separation from the demands of democracy and pluralism, which is what allowed us long ago to become part of the European Union as a full member. It is not Spain what bothers them–it did not bother them before–,it is the fact that Spain means freedom what bothers them.
More than three decades ago, Spaniards were able to change the course of our history. Today, those who attempt to get us back to the path of discord and breakup that we then left, double their efforts. An attempt that, acting upon a live and authentic national body as it is doing, will necessarily involve tearing, as it is already doing.
We are not facing a struggle among territories. We are facing a challenge which contrasts the most reactionary and destructive nationalism to the European civic culture of our Constitution.
We are facing a defiance to the values of freedom, pluralism, law and equality within the same society. Words which mean nothing to nationalism, but which mean everything to us. For victims of terrorism, they even mean their lives.
Generations of democracy have made an effort to integrate, fit, put together, agree, adjust, differentiate and understand. We have done it by giving up things which meant a great deal to us, by making a constructive, conciliating and generous effort which starts off in the Transition and in the constitutional reflection of the Autonomous State.
I assert that effort. Not only do I not regret having contributed to it, but I also believe that it is highly valuable for the coexistence of all Spaniards.
But nationalism insists on contradicting that effort, on making it useless, and invites us to surrender to the fact that none of this matters to it. Because nationalists ask for the impossible: the scrapping of the nation and the State. It would never fit in a nation, but in a non-nation; its insertion would not be in a State, but in a non-State.
Thus, we need to strengthen the institutions and to organise the life of the State in the way that most interests the nation in order to face a useless fragmentation process.
Today, at this event promoted by Villacisneros Foundation, we honour its victims and renew our commitment to what they are and what they represent. I do it personally.
This is a decisive moment in our history. A moment which requires us to give the best we have. A moment which, I am sure, will be remembered by all of us as the moment in which we were able to understand the threats which we were suffering and we succeeded in facing them. Because we did not abandon those who could teach us the most. Because we stayed with them, and because they showed us the way.
But nothing is granted, and everything will depend on what we are willing to do. Because it is true that silence can hurt the truth as much as lies do.”