Jordi Juan, 18 April 2021
Director of La Vanguardia
Andoni Ortuzar Arruabarrena, president of the Euzkadi Buru Batzar of the PNV in an interview held on Thursday, April 15, 2021 in Bilbao LVG / Own
I travelled to Bilbao last Thursday with Enric Juliana to interview the president of the PNV, Andoni Ortuzar, and share a few hours of conversation about the convulsive political situation. The first impression is the positive change experienced by the Biscayan capital compared to my previous excursions a few years ago when the professional motive was the continuous attacks by ETA. It is no longer just the urban change in Bilbao, which is simply spectacular, but the daily life without the shadow of terrorism. It is sharing a few wines with Ortuzar in the street next to Sabin Etxea, the headquarters of the PNV, and seeing how his fellow citizens greet him, from judges or prosecutors in the neighbouring Palace of Justice to any ordinary citizen. There are no bodyguards. There is no fear. There is peace.
Ortuzar is very clear about this. He is not enthusiastic about Pedro Sánchez’s policies, nor about the sometimes-embarrassing spectacle of the partisan brawl in Madrid, but he believes that there is no alternative but to continue supporting the government. “We are people who talk to everyone”, says the PNV leader, after admitting that he has recovered the dialogue with the PP, although he still sees Pablo Casado’s party as tender. In any case, he has already built bridges with the PP for when the tide turns.
The PNV believes that Sánchez should make more of an effort to seek agreements with the Catalan parties. “It is time for him to start talking less about Catalonia and talk more with Catalonia”. Although he understands the disappointment of the Catalan nationalists and their consequent bid for independence, he is clear that today there is no possible alternative to dialogue with the State. “The territorial model has to be reconsidered, even if it costs a lot and there is colossal resistance”. For Ortuzar, there is no other possible plan because Europe would not approve it.
In his opinion, we are in the same situation as in the debate of the transition in the 1970s: reform or rupture. Catalonia opted for reform with even more determination than the Basque Country did then, and today, 40 years later, he advises it to continue along the same path. Wise advice that should be heeded. Sooner or later, Catalan nationalism will have to make this exercise in realism. It is not a matter of renouncing ideals, as the PNV does not, it is simply a matter of keeping its feet on the ground.