Bertie Ahern was Taoiseach (prime minister) of Ireland from 1997-2008 and participated in negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland. Recently he was among a group of world leaders that called on the violent Basque separatist group ETA to permanently give up its armed struggle. On October 20th, ETA declared a “historic” and “definitive” end to its armed activity.
In this interview, Ahern discusses the conditions that led to ETA’s declaration and the steps needed for reconciliation and disarmament. Optimistic about the prospects for peace, he called on the governments of Spain and France “to get into talks and to deal with the consequences of the conflict.”
Drawing from his experience in the Northern Irish peace process, he reasoned that obstacles to a sustainable peace can be overcome. With some hard work, tolerance, and forgiveness, “you can find resolutions and move forward,” Ahern said, “and make it a better process, not only for this generation, but for the next generation.”
Listen to the interview here.
This interview was conducted for the International Peace Institute on October 28, 2011, and first appeared in The Global Observatory on November 10, 2011.