21 April 2005 Edition

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Dialogue and Inclusion required in the Basque Country

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams expressed deep concern at the continued exclusion of political parties from contesting regional elections in the Basque Country.

"Following the Good Friday Agreement I travelled to the Basque Country and the message that I brought was the need for a peace process to be established and that it was essential that it be on the basis of equality, not criminalisation and exclusion," he said.

"I travelled to the Basque Country again in January 2005 and offered my support and assistance in building an inclusive process.

"Sinn Féin believes that all sections of Basque nationalism want to seriously engage in a peace process. Therefore, we are deeply concerned that legislation remains in place to ban political parties such as Batasuna and Aukera Gustiak and a range of Basque cultural and youth organisations.

"Our experience of conflict resolution has shown that the only way that progress will occur is on the basis of inclusive dialogue based on equality and respect.

"Sinn Féin supports efforts within the Basque Country to establish such a process and believe that such moves should be responded to positively by the Spanish Government and supported by the International Community."

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