“You have opened the doors to the world of Basque and Basque culture to many generations”. The Deputy General of Gipuzkoa, Markel Olano, thus hailed the achievements achieved by the Elkar Group during its half-century of existence, during the ceremony of presentation of the gold medal of the Diputación, which took place this Friday in Donostia. The act began at street level, in Plaza de Gipuzkoa, to the rhythm of ezpatadantza in honor of the award-winning entity, which yielded, already in the Throne Room of the Foral Palace, to the interpretation of don’t give it to herriafrom Eñaut Elorrieta, and at the bertsolari recital Oihana Iguaran. “We reward the tireless work carried out in the dissemination of the Basque language and Basque culture”, explained Olano, in a speech where references to Basque and universal letters were not lacking, from Borges to Etxepare, passing through Xabier Lete and Karmele. Jaio, Euskadi Literature Prize in 2020.
The Deputy General concentrated on three aspects the arguments to recognize the Elkar Group with the highest distinction granted by the Provincial Council. Its practice, since its foundation in Baiona in 1972, developed a love of reading – something essential in the formation of “critical people” – and “the adherence and consumption of Basque culture in our society”. He added that “Basque has gained thousands of speakers, has been greatly rejuvenated, thanks to popular initiatives such as those of Elkar”. Finally, the Deputy General underlined “the multiplier potential of collaboration between institutions and social actors” like Elkar, something all the more important “as we are a minority language, in the midst of a profoundly changing world and society”.
The praise was led by the President of Eusko Ikaskuntza, Ane Urkiza, which pointed out that the “debt” with Elkar is both private and, inevitably, of society as a whole. Urkiza took as a reference seven aphorisms that he collected in the book Garen Hori and that the editorial branch of the group published in 2020 to talk about the “values” that have gone through its practice since its creation, namely, Basque and culture, the desire to be a tool for the country in the face of the complications arising from the Francoism, while adopting a “global” vision of the editorial service, all from an “entrepreneurial character”, with a business vision that knew how to adapt to the times and with a certain ambition that facilitated the construction of a Basque cultural industry.
Elkar, “just one more link”
Mikel Esnal and Jose Mari Sors received the gold medal on behalf of the Elkar Fundazioa. Esnal, with humility, reviewed the assurances that they represent only “a link” in the long chain of a cultural industry that has “structural deficiencies” to achieve “dignified sustainability”. In this sense, he defended the need to “do it right” in formulas to “make visible” Basque culture and achieve a society that actively consumes it. Esnal launched a petition to the representatives of the public gathered at the ceremony, defending the promulgation of “solid and courageous cultural policies” and he held their hand to walk together in achieving the strongest possible cultural project, understanding that culture must be a priority in the scale of values of the future society, promoting not only individual well-being, but also the creation of a fair, progressive and more democratic community.