Fox News - Fair & Balanced

Search Site

ETA: Peace Process Is in Crisis

Saturday, November 04, 2006

MADRID, Spain —  The Basque separatist group ETA warned the Spanish government on Saturday that the peace process initiated when the group declared a cease-fire this year was in crisis and required new efforts to advance.

The warning was published Saturday in Spanish by the regional newspaper Gara, after it was first issued in the October edition of the Basque magazine Zutabe.

The violent separatist group said that while progress was at a standstill, it would renew efforts to put a negotiated peace settlement back on track.

"ETA is going to make a new effort within the avenue of negotiation it has open with the Spanish government,"the armed group said.

ETA _ which stands for Basque Homeland and Freedom _ is accused of killing more than 800 people since 1968 in a violent campaign for independence from Spain. Its last fatal attack was in May 2003, when a car bomb killed two policemen in the northern town of Sanguesa.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said last week that his government intended to verify if ETA, which declared its"permanent"cease-fire in March, really wanted to abandon violence after a report that 350 guns had been stolen in France, with the ETA named by investigators as the prime suspect in the heist.

(Story continues below)

Advertise Here


Zapatero had said in June that his government would negotiate with ETA only after having concluded that its truce was serious. No talks have taken place.

For the peace effort to emerge out of the"crisis"that has prevented progress, ETA said Zapatero's government must"set aside repressive measures and cease attacks"on separatist sympathizers as well as"respect the will of Basque citizens."

Since it declared its cease-fire in March, ETA has complained in six statements that the government has dragged its feet in the peace process, harassed and arrested pro-independence militants and held back on allowing political parties to negotiate on the region's future.

The ETA's latest declarations have drawn a cool response from regional and national authorities.

Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said he did not consider the statement to be an ultimatum, adding that any negotiations must take place free of violence and threats.

While ETA's cease-fire has held, street violence associated with gangs of ETA supporters resurfaced in August.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



most active