Irish Republican News · June 11, 2007
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
ETA ends ceasefire

The Basque group ETA has called off its 15-month-old ceasefire, marking the end of a troubled peace process with Spain.

ETA said the truce it called in March 2006 ended at midnight on Wednesday, and that it would now be “active on all fronts to defend the Basque homeland”. However, no armed actions followed the announcement.

In a statement sent to two Basque newspapers, it blamed the Spanish government -- and particularly Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero -- for the failed peace process, accusing the Socialist leader of becoming a fascist.

“Zapatero’s character has turned into a fascism that left parties and citizens without rights,” ETA said.

The process appeared doomed after the Basque political party Batasuna, and associated political parties, were banned from running in the May 27 local elections.

The pro-independence movement had called the elections a key part of the peace process.

In its statement yesterday, Eta described the Basque elections as illegitimate without Batasuna and complained that the Spanish judiciary system had continued to act repressively despite the ceasefire.

Now, “minimum democratic conditions for a negotiating process do not exist”, ETA said in the statement sent to the pro-independence newspapers Berria and Gara.

Gerry Adams urged the Spanish government and the Basques to do everything in their power to put their peace process back on track.

The West Belfast MP, who visited Madrid and the Basque country last year to encourage both sides to develop their process of conflict resolution, expressed disappointment at the latest development.

“Everyone who has been involved in attempting to get a viable peace process operating in the Basque country is disappointed at the breakdown in the process over recent months and today’s announcement from Eta ending its ceasefire,” he said yesterday.

“However, the lessons of the Irish peace process and indeed every conflict resolution process throughout the world tell us that it is now important to redouble efforts to put the process there back on track.

“All sides should show restraint and do everything in their power to ensure that a process is put in place which can allow this conflict to be resolved peacefully through genuine dialogue and engagement.”

However, the Spanish government reacted to ETA’s announcement by immediately arresting and jailing Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi and returning Basque hunger striker Inaki de Juana Chaos to prison.

Sinn Féin Assembly member Gerry Kelly said the move was “a retrograde step” which would make peace efforts more difficult and would be seen as “politically punitive”.

“I would once again repeat the call for genuine dialogue and engagement,” he said. “This can be the only way forward if a proper process of conflict resolution is to be put in place.”

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© 2007 Irish Republican News