“Our goal is to showcase and promote globally the genuine Basque reality that is pluralistic, diverse, open and welcoming. We have to be capable of delivering the best Basque Country of History: a people living in peace, committed to Human Rights and equality, showing solidarity and aware that knowledge and innovation are indisputable challenges to build a better future”. These words by Lehendakari Iñigo Urkullu, the Basque Premier, served as a prelude to the opening of the first Euskadi-Basque Country Eguna, a symposium aimed at promoting and disseminating the Euskadi-Basque Country brand abroad, and which is a meeting point where stakeholders with an international agenda to share their experiences.
Held in Bilbao on 19 June, the symposium had the thought-provoking “An Ancestral People Who Loves the Avant-Garde” tile, identical to the book in which Kirmen Uribe recounts the way in which the Basque Country has forged its personality down through the years by means of anecdotes, stories and unique experiences. And one of the symposium’s goals was precisely that: for different key players to share their perception of the Euskadi-Basque Country brand in different areas. It is a question of working together to build a more attractive country and help to ensure that some of the values shared by Basque Society, such as the culture of hard work, commitment, the ability to surpass, equal opportunities and social justice, are associated with the image of the Basque Country and become, to quote the Lehendakari, “our international calling card”.
As part of that strategy, Iñigo Urkullu announced that the next time the symposium would be held, it would host the award ceremony of the Euskadi-Basque Country Lagunak, a public recognition of those people or organisations that stand out for their contribution to strengthening the image of the Euskadi-Basque Country abroad.
The symposium started with the keynote speech by Gustavo Koniszczer, the Argentinean expert in branding, who explained the results of the assessment of the Euskadi-Basque Country brand and its attributes, and the opportunities that the brand offers as a transformation tool.
Three panels with different experts addressed the perception of the Euskadi-Basque Country brand from different perspectives. Estíbaliz Arenaza, Global Sharpers manager, Saioa Eibar, founder of the Fair Saturday Foundation, Imanol Esnaola, Gaindegia coordinator, and Leyre Arrieta, a lecturer at Desuto University, made up the first panel focused on social cohesion, cooperation and self-government.
The second forum analysed the nation brand from the perspective of authenticity, culture and attraction, led by Eneko Atxa, the chef, Nere Lete, professor at Boise University, Aitor Bengoetxea, director of Euskal Herriko Musika Bulego Elkartea, and Oihane Pardo, the architect.
The third and last panel analysed the Euskadi-Basque Country brand from the perspective of excellence, innovation and talent, with the presence of Ricardo diez Muiño, the DIPC director, Clara Martin, Ikerbasque researcher, Josu Esnaola, CAF’s commercial director, and Juan Ignacio Vidarte, the director of the Guggeneheim Museum.
Marian Elorza, the Basque Government’s Secretary for External Action, was tasked with bring the event to a close and she returned to one of the ideas launched by Gustavo Koniszczer to recall that audiences are looking for “genuine discourse” where preference is given “to being over wanting to be”. “It is not a question of copying external models, but rather of exploring the characteristics traits that give meaning to the messages overall” and “the Basque Country has its own identify that makes us genuine, different and attractive”.
The symposium will be held annually and rotate between each of the provincial capitals of the Basque country and is part of the Internationalisation Framework Strategy 2020, which defines the core areas and lines of work in the field of internationalisation.