FOR two full days this week the European Parliament has been engaged in a passionate debate about the Spanish government's peace initiatives towards its Basque region. On Wednesday evening a resolution supporting “the fight against terrorism and the peace initiative in the Basque Country undertaken by the Spanish democratic institutions” was passed by 321 votes in favour, 311 against and 24 abstentions. The resolution was put forward by socialists, liberals, greens and a leftist group in the Parliament. An alternative resolution proposed by conservative and centre-right groups stating that ETA had not met the necessary pre-conditions for peace talks was rejected by 322 against, 302 in favour and 31 abstentions. The debate came about as the result of various statements, pro and con, about the Spanish peace initiative had circulated in the Parliament and at the informal summit of EU leaders held in Finland last week. Initially four of the seven party groups in the European Parliament had expressed their support for the Spanish government's position. In Finland, however, the conservative European People's Party grouping decided to put on record its support for the Spanish Partido Popular's opposition to the PSOE government's model for bringing peace to the Basque region. As a result of these opposing positions the president of the Parliament, Josep Borrell agreed to a full scale debate; a similar debate in 1993 had resulted in a resolution backing the peace process in Northern Ireland.


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