Collision Course

For three-and-a-half hours last week, Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero sat down and talked with the President of the Basque region, Juan José Ibarretxe — something that Zapatero's predecessor, José María Aznar, refused to do during his last four years in office. But the chat only confirmed that they had nothing to talk about. In late December, the Basque regional parliament approved Ibarretxe's controversial proposal for a "free association" between the Basque Country and Spain. Under the plan, the wealthy northeastern region and its 2 million inhabitants would have an essentially separate judicial system, a separate representative to the...

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