In this capacity, Bertie Ahern has worked with the major parties and trade unions in the Basque region to bring an end to the last armed conflict in Europe. The highlight of this work was an International Conference in San Sebastian on 17th October 2011. Bertie Ahern was part of an international delegation which included former United Nations
Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and former Norwegian Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Bruntland.
After intensive talks, Bertie Ahern made a declaration on behalf of the international delegation and said “we call upon ETA to make a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action and to request talks with the governments of Spain and France to address exclusively the consequences of the conflict. In our experience of resolving conflicts there are often other issues that, if addressed, can assist in the attainment of lasting peace. We suggest that non violent actors and political representatives meet and discuss political and other related issues, in consultation with the citizenry, that could contribute to a new era without conflict.”
In response to this declaration, ETA announced that it had “decided on the definitive cessation of its armed activity” and said that it wished to “open a process of direct dialogue which has as its aim the resolution of the consequences of the conflict.”
This statement brought to an end ETA’s 43 year campaign of violence which caused over 800 deaths.
Bertie Ahern continues to advise and share his experiences of peace building with key players in the Basque process to strengthen the cause of reconciliation in this region.
Since leaving office, Bertie Ahern has engaged with peace processes in several countries, meeting delegations and discussing the procedures and negotiations involved with conflict resolution. These have included Turkey, Columbia, Burma (Myanmar) and working with the CMI in Odessa and the Ukraine, among others.