Basque prime minister threatens a peace deadline

1st February 2006, Comments 0 comments

1 February 2006, MADRID – The Basque regional prime minister has set the government and ETA a surprising deadline to work out a solution for peace in the region.

1 February 2006

MADRID – The Basque regional prime minister has set the government and ETA a surprising deadline to work out a solution for peace in the region.

The wealthy but restless Basque region is the scene of separatist violence by the band ETA which has cost more than 800 lives over four decades.

But last year, the Spanish government started to talk of a good chance of negotiating a peace. It even persuaded the parliament to pass a law to allow it to hold talks with ETA if the terrorist group laid down its arms.

Since then, though, there have been few signs of real progress and ETA has not renounced violence.

At a press conference on Wednesday morning, the Basque head Juan Jose Ibarretxe said that if the government and ETA didn't make steps towards peace, in September the Basque government would under take "a political initiative of an extraordinary character".

Ibarretxe refused to specify what that political initiative would be, however he stated that the "heart" of the policy of his government's coalition was "to defend the right of this people to decide through a popular consultation".

The remark is reminiscent of Ibarretxe's threat to consult the Basque people in a referendum on his plan for the Basque country to have greater independence from the rest of Spain. The so-called 'Ibarretxe plan' was considered unconstitutional by both the Spanish government and the conservative opposition and was voted against by the central parliament.

At the time, Ibarretxe threatened to hold a referendum on the issue, despite the fact that the vote would be considered illegal if it was held without the consent of the Spanish parliament.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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