Irish Republican News · October 20, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Basque peace development welcomed

The Basque armed group ETA has issued a statement tonight saying it is ending its 43-year armed campaign for independence, and calling on Spain and France to open talks.

The group made the announcement in a statement tonight to the Basque daily newspaper, Gara.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said the “decisive and positive” announcement was a response to peace efforts this week in the Basque capital, San Sebastian.

Mr Adams said that the ‘International Group’, of which he is a member, had expressed the opinion at a peace conference on Monday that it is possible to end “the last armed confrontation in Europe”.

“We called upon ETA to make a public declaration of the definitive cessation of all armed action and to request talks with the governments of Spain and France to address exclusively the consequences of the conflict.

“I believe that their statement today meets that requirement and I would urge the governments of Spain and France to welcome it and agree to talks exclusively to deal with the consequences of the conflict.”

The Basque struggle for independence has often mirrored the Irish struggle for self-determination. The ETA organisation is classified as a ‘terrorist’ by Spain, which has implemented a brutal and repressive regime to suppress the independendist movement, including the jailing of political leaders.

Mr Adams said the next steps “should be about promoting reconciliation, addressing the issue of victims and recognising that a serious effort has to be made to heal personal and social wounds.

“There are other issues which will need to be addressed and which can act as confidence-building measures within the process.

“For example, among these are the issue of prisoners and of demilitarising the environment and of respecting and acknowledging the democratic rights of all political parties and treating them as equals.

“At a time when [political party] Batasuna is banned and leaders like Arnaldo Otegi, who is totally committed in my view to peace, are imprisoned, the use of confidence-building measures by the Spanish state is very important.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News