The journey

History of the Euskaltzale movement

Like all social movements, the Euskaltzale movement has had its ups and downs over time: new associations have appeared and other have disappeared, some initiatives have been successful and others less so; achievements and failures, celebrations and annoyances.

While there are many dates, initiatives and people we could highlight in this movement which was born and exists on the basis of the contribution and efforts of thousands of men and women, in this summary we include just some of the initiatives, events and dates that have marked a turning point in the Euskaltzale movement.


1963: Creation of Elgoibarko Izarra

The oldest member of Euskaltzaleen Topagunea is Elgoibarko Izarra Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. It sprang from the initiative of some Euskaltzal enthusiasts in Elgoibar at a time when there were no Basque associations. In its early years it was established as a cultural association, supporting the ikastola (Basque-language school) in Elgoibar to promote Basque language and culture. It cannot therefore be described as the first Basque association, as in its early years it did not have the functions and features of such groups, but it is the oldest association in Topagune.

In 1990, Elgoibarka Izarra embarked on a second stage, in the wake of the Basque associations that were springing up in the region, becoming a meeting point for the Euskaltzale enthusiasts of Elgoibar by taking on the features and functions of these associations and setting the promotion of the use of Basque as its primary goal.



1981: Creation of Ttipi-Ttapa magazine

Ttipi-Ttapa magazine pioneered local media in Basque. The magazine was founded in 1981 and continues to cover the news in Baztan, Bertizarana, Bortziriak, Leitzaldea, Malerreka, Sara, Senpere, Urdazubi and Zugarramurdi today. It went on to be the first medium in the Basque Country to publish its content on the Internet (currently at

Ttipi-Ttapa magazine opted to cover the most local news in Basque and deliver it to people’s homes. In subsequent years local media emerged in many towns and counties around the Basque Country. Taking advantage of the possibilities offered by desktop publishing tools, numerous local magazines were set up, becoming the most widely-read media in many places.




1983: Creation of Arrasate Euskaldun Dezagun Elkartea

AED Elkartea, the first association set up with the features of a Basque language association, was founded in Arrasate (Mondragón).

Various Euskaltzals in the town came together in a series of talks about sociolinguistics and created an association to concentrate on the use and encouragement of Basque. The association was started with two goals: to create spaces and tools for living in Basque and to organise Basque speakers in the town. The AED association, as well as being a pioneering Basque association (these associations spread from town to town in the Basque Country following the Arrasate model), has also been a leader in creating initiatives in different areas. The initiative or the support of the association helped to set up, among others, the Txatxilipurdi association, devoted to leisure for children; Arrasate Press magazine; the  ARKO (Arrasate komunikabideak) association, which founded Arrasate Telebista and Arrasate Irratia, and then, together with the other Basque associations in the valley, set up the Goiena group at county level; the EuskaLan group promoting Basque at work; and the Ekin Emakumeak association for Euskaltzale women.




1993: Conference on the Arrasate Basque associations

On the tenth anniversary of the AED, with the Basque association movement growing, a conference was organised in Arrasate to assess the activities of the associations and plan their future. This conference analysed the lines of work of the Basque associations and their relations with other movements in Basque culture.

Discussion also began on how to structure the language between the associations and collaboration between institutions in the Basque-language sector. Iñaki Arruti and Fernando Muniozguren talked about the need to create spaces which in their talk on collaboration between Basque normalisation bodies they referred to as “Normalkuntzaindia”.

All the talks at this conference were published in numbers 8 and 9 of Jazten magazine.



1993: The Bagera association started up the Mintzalaguna project

topagunea-mintzalaguna-bagera-sorreraThe first Mintzalagun project was started up in Donostia/San Sebastián. A simple basic idea: to bring people not in the habit of speaking Basque together with regular speakers, forming groups of friends to practise Basque. An initiative aimed at Basque learners in principle, but which was then expanded to participants of many kinds.

The initiative started up by the Bagera Basque association spread rapidly to other towns and regions. In the late 90s it entered Bizkaia province and from 2004 onwards it spread throughout the Basque Country. In 1998 Eibar hosted the first seminar on the earliest language practice projects.


1993: Conference on the Arrasate Basque associations

On the tenth anniversary of the AED, with the Basque association movement growing, a conference was organised in Arrasate to assess the activities of the associations and plan their future. This conference analysed the lines of work of the Basque associations and their relations with other movements in Basque culture.

Discussion also began on how to structure the language between the associations and collaboration between institutions in the Basque-language sector. Iñaki Arruti and Fernando Muniozguren talked about the need to create spaces which in their talk on collaboration between Basque normalisation bodies they referred to as “Normalkuntzaindia”.

All the talks at this conference were published in numbers 8 and 9 of Jazten magazine.



1995: Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao

Kafe Antzokia opened in December 1985 with the aim of creating a physical and symbolic space for the Basque speakers scattered around Bilbao. It was on the initiative of the Zenbat Gara association, linked to the Gabriel Aresti language school. The idea of the founders of Kafe Antzokia was to create spaces and opportunities for Basque language learners to carry on natural relations in Basque. Kafe Antzokia has been the home of further projects (Bilbo Hiria irratia, Erroa publishers, the Algara festive group and Kurkuluxetan umegunea, among others).

This project, a landmark in the world of culture in Basque, served as a model for theatres and meeting places that emerged afterwards in other towns and cities in the Basque Country.


1996: Creation of Euskara Elkarteen Topagunea

In November 1995 in Bergara, “Euskara Elkarteen Topagunea”. After the approval of the “Oinarriak” report, various associations started work on the creation of a federation of Basque associations.

The first session was held on 1st February 1997 in Durango, attended by representatives of the 29 associations in Álava, Bizkaia, Gipuzkoa and Navarra that set up the Euskara Elkarteen Topagunea federation.

This meeting also appointed the first executive committee, made up of nine representatives led by Fernando Muniozguren, representative of the Eibar Basque association Eta Kitto!.

Soon after the creation of Topagunea, the culture, media, agreement and leisure time committees started work.



1997: The Kultur Errota circuit started up

Under the slogan “Biraka ari den harria, sorkuntzan ari den herria”, Kultur Errota started out in autumn 1997.

Euskaltzaleen Topagunea came to symbolise the creation of the project right from the start and has carried on to the present day.

The primary goal of Kultur Errota is to spread and show off culture created in Basque, as well as publicising different forms of Basque culture in the localities where Basque associations exist. To do this an extensive circuit of small-format performances was organised to allow established and new talents to present their work in Basque. Over the years thousands of performances have been staged through Kultur Errota.

This was the first project started up by the culture committee, but in the years that followed new ideas emerged from the meeting place formed by the members of the culture committees of the different Basque associations.



1998: 3rd Local Media Conference. Conference in Arrasate

Arrasate Komunikabideak ARKO was the association that in 1998 organised the 3rd Local Media Conference. Representatives of the local media in Topagunea had already started work on the federation’s media committee. The aims of the committee were to start up joint projects to strengthen and broaden the local media sector in Basque, organise joint services and create a collective representation before institutions.

In this respect, mention should be made of the steps taken in those first years, above all in joint services like IT, which took several years, and centralised management of subsidies, currently in operation.




2001: Conference on the management of the Basque language in Gernika

18th and 19th January saw the first Euskaltzaleen Topagunea in the Elai Alai venue in Gernika. This conference began a tradition that has been repeated nearly every year of organising conferences to discuss topics of interest to the movement. The event, which generally takes place in January, is called Topaldia.

The first conference dealt with the management of the Basque associations, how the working areas of the associations do their job and how they are organised, discussed by speakers from the Euskaltzal movement and other social and business movements.



2003: Start-up of the project

This was the first major project to encourage participation by young people and teenagers. The project, which began with the aim of fostering cultural activities in leisure time, rested on three pillars: the Youth Cultural circuit (in which culture-related workshops for young people were offered), Creative Youth (role models for young people, looking for culturally creative young people and then directing them into the circuits) and the Creative Youth Awards (an annual competition for young creative people).

Within the framework of the Creative Youth Awards two competitions were organised from 2004 onwards: the Basque Country graffiti competition and the Audiovisual Rally. The graffiti competition changed its name to Spraikada (the first was held in Mendaro in 2004) and ran for six years in all. The Audiovisual Rally is also known as Kameratoia (the first was a one-day event held in Eibar in 2005) and it continues to be held every year.


2004: Start-up of the Laburbira short film circuit

The distribution of shorts in the Basque Country was the primary aim of the short film circuit set up in 2004. In fact, at that time some shorts created in Basque were included on the international circuit, but the options for seeing them in the Basque Country were very limited. This is why a selection was made of the films made every year and a screening lasting about an hour was organised and shown in different places. The Laburbira circuit set up in 2004 has not stopped, and remains an annual event today.

Laburbira and Kameratoia, organised the year after, were the starting point of the audiovisual work of Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. In fact, in the following years two other initiatives were set up to publicise creative talent in Basque: the Irudienea Basque-language audiovisual event at Durango fair and the Benito Ansola competition organised together with the Lekeito film fair to encourage the creation of new audiovisual work.




2006: Plan Bidaide to publicise Mintzapraktika projects

In 2005, Euskaltzaleen Topagunea published the manual “Programmes for use for new Basque speakers” and in the same year organised the conference “mintzapraktika proiektuak: erabilera eragin tresnak” in Durango. In recent years the reach of the Mintsalagun projects had gradually begun to extend throughout the Basque Country and the intention was to take advantage of the experience gained to give it a new boost.

The agreement with the Basque government department responsible for language policy was essential to the drawing up of the Plan Bidaire by Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. This was followed by an agreement with AEK and strong growth in subsequent years. In a few years the Mintzalagun projects had spread throughout most of the Basque Country and gone from 3,600 to 6,000 participants.

The same year, 2006, saw the start of MintzaEguna, the celebration for members of the Mintzalagun community. They meet once a year in May or June somewhere in the Basque Country. The first edition took place between Iruñea and Atarrabia.


2009: Start-up of the Auzoko project

In response to a concern shared by Euskaltzaleen Topagunea and UEMA (organisations of Basque-speaking municipalities), in 2008 a language reception programme was designed for new arrivals in Basque-speaking towns and villages. This programme was later named Auzoko and spread from Basque-speaking localities to others: communities of Basque speakers in different sociolinguistic circumstances started organising reception groups for new arrivals. The Auzoko groups are currently running in various localities.

Auzoko was the first Euskaltzaleen Topagunea project in the area of diversity. Other projects have started up since: small pocket dictionaries to bring Basque closer to new arrivals (60 dictionaries available at, the Lingoland programme to work in schools, Zubideiak social interviews and the welcome guides for new arrivals produced together with town halls, among others.



2011: 1st Congress, XXI. Mendeko Euskaldunon Elkarteak

Topagunea embarked on a long process of reflection in January 2010. On 23rd January of the same year 110 people from the Basque associations met in Landako Gunea at the event entitled “Gogoan: 21st century Basque associations” (“Gogoan: Basque associations in the 21st century”). The programme included talks and work group dynamics, and one of the main conclusions was the need to begin a period of reflection in the Basque association movement.

The Congress was the framework for reflection. On 26th February 2011 the Congress on Basque associations in the 21st century held at Alhondegia in Bilbao approved a document on guidelines for Basque associations, a report laying down the broad lines for the Euskaltzal movement for the coming decades. The document was the result of a year’s work, of discussions by the lower committees to guide reflection and of the contributions made by representatives of the Basque associations.

The lines of work laid down in the Oinarri report have guided the steps of Euskaltzaleen Topagunea from that Congress to the present day.



2012: 2nd Congress: from Federation to Movement

To start working in the direction set by Oinarripar, a second discussion session began as soon as the first Congress ended. Organisation, funding and activities were the main topics of this second congress: the existence and name of the movement, internal organisation, the balance between voluntary and professional work, internal communication, support for the community, relations with institutions and the provision of services, among others. Both the federation and the movement had to get ready to approach these areas. Finally, the “From Federation to Movement” section of the report entitled “Transformaciones” (“Transformations”) set down the priority functions of Topagunea in 19 conclusions.

As a result of the congress, one of the first decisions was that what had until then been the Topagunea Federation of Basque Associations would become Euskaltzaleen Topagunea.


2012: Creation of the local media unit Tokikom

The media have always been of special importance within Topagunea. Local media have carried a lot of weight in the federation’s activities because of their influence, activities and scale (both economic and personal). It was the media committee that led this area up to 2012 and some of the biggest commitments and efforts made by Topagunea (the IT service, setting up a publishing system, setting up the Herri Komunikabideak cooperative, the association of local television stations, etc.) have come from this committee.

The high degree of professionalism in this area and the pace of its work led in 2012 to the creation of the convergence of local media in Tokikom. It was set up by 20 associations that run the media and Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. Tokikom members currently run 60 mainly local media. Tokikom has three main functions: joint contact between local media, managing shared areas of action and developing and publicising the sector.


2012: First TopaEguna in Azkoitia

After the congress, one of the first important tasks for Euskaltzaleen Topagunea was to work on cohesion and internal communication within the movement. To do this it organised nine meeting places between members of the movement. The first of these was held in Azkoitia on 19th May 2012. There were two main purposes to this event: to present 25 projects for Euskaltzale associations (most of them from within the movement itself, but also from other movements) and reserving a space for the members of the movement to celebrate in a festive atmosphere. This first event was entitled Gunea Eguna, but in subsequent years it was repeated as Topaeguna.

There were three further editions of Topaeguna in the following years, in Soraluze, Derio and Lasarte-Oria.



2015: Berrikasi eta Berrikusi

Working on reflection and feeding the movement were set as priority tasks among the conclusions of the Euskaltzaleen Topagunea congresses. In early 2013 sociolinguistics experts close to the Euskaltzal movement began to meet. As the work group consolidated this dynamic it was named Topalabe Taldea. In May 2015 they published their first joint reflections, in the document Berrikasi eta Berrikusi.

The Topalabe work group argued that a new phase was beginning. The group analysed this change in the document Berrikasi eta Berrikusi in a critical interpretation of the past decades, suggesting strategies that might be the key to the new phase. These reflections were publicised and discussed in the Basque-speaking world over the following months.



2018: Euskaraldia

From 23rd November to 3rd December 2018 the social activity Euskaraldia was run throughout the Basque Country, with the aim of changing language habits and shaking up inertias by encouraging the use of Basque. A total of 225,000 people took part in the “11 days in Basque” initiative, playing the roles of Ahobizi or Belarriprest. Committees set up in 405 localities in seven regions and over 200 organisations took part in the dissemination and local organisation of the scheme. Euskaraldia was a mass initiative organised by Euskaltzaleen Topagunea in coordination with institutions throughout Euskal Herria (the governments of the Basque Country and Navarra autonomous regions, Euskal Hirigune Elkargoa and the public institute for the Basque language) and with various bodies promoting the Basque language and others.

There were various precedents before Euskaraldia. In the two previous years, the Euskarak 365 scheme, organised by Durangoko Berbarok on the occasion of International Basque Day, was extended in 2013 throughout the Basque Country, by Euskaltzaleen Topagunea. The aim was to highlight the work of the Euskaltzal movement all year round and for the Euskaltzals to occupy the public space, and it was run for five years. Euskaraldia was the next step.

The birth of Euskaraldia was also the result of initiatives to activate the language that were spreading from town to town. Taking as a model the performance by Lutxo Egia of Bilbao in June 2015, the initiative organised in 2016 by Euskaltzal in the Donostia-San Sebastián district of Egia was expanded to numerous localities around the Basque Country: Agurain, Arrigorriaga, Lizarra, BAM (Baiona/Bayonne-Angelu/Anglet-Biarritz), Zuia, Deusto, Trapagaran, Lasarte-Oria, etc. the methodology devised in the latter locality (based on the roles of Ahobizi and Belarriprest) was the starting point for setting up Euskaraldia.



    1. Datuen arduraduna: Euskaltzaleen Topagunea
    2. Datuen helburua: Topagunearen egitasmo eta ekimenen berri bidaltzea.
    3. Datuen biltegia: Profesional Hosting-n ostatutako datu-basea
    4. Eskubideak: Zure informazioa mugatu, berreskuratu edota ezabatu dezakezu edozein unetan.

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