Basque separatists urge EU to help find peace

6th June 2007, Comments 0 comments

6 June 2007 , BRUSSELS - Basque separatists urged the European Union on Wednesday to step in and help re-establish the peace process with the Spanish government, a day after the pro-independence group ETA announced an end of its 15-month truce.

6 June 2007

BRUSSELS - Basque separatists urged the European Union on Wednesday to step in and help re-establish the peace process with the Spanish government, a day after the pro-independence group ETA announced an end of its 15-month truce.

"It is absolutely necessary for there to be a political and democratic solution to the conflict in the Basque country," said Karmelo Landa, a former member of European Parliament and a member of ETA's outlawed political wing, Batasuna.

ETA _ Europe's last armed militant group _ said Tuesday its truce would end at midnight. It blamed Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for ruining the peace process by continuing to arrest and try ETA members and barring most pro-independence candidates from Basque local elections on May 27.

Despite a self-imposed "permanent cease-fire" announced March 22, 2006, ETA detonated a massive car bomb at Madrid's international airport on Dec. 30, demolishing a five-storey car park and killing two people.

Landa described Tuesday's announcement as "very bad news."

"It is necessary to re-establish conditions leading to a just peace. For this we need the European Union's help," he told journalists.

Spain's Supreme Court outlawed Batasuna in 2003 on grounds that it was part of ETA, leading to its offices being shut down and its members barred from engaging in political activity.

Gorka Elejabarrieta, a Batasuna representative in Brussels, said the EU "could and should" play a role in re-establishing a peace process that could solve the ongoing conflict.

"The resolution of the Basque conflict should be a priority on the EU agenda," he said, but added that so far the EU had backed only "the interests of the Spanish state and not those of the Basque country and the union itself."

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.

The opposition conservative Popular Party claims Zapatero's government has shown weakness in dealing with ETA, which has been classified in Madrid, Brussels and Washington as a terrorist organization. It says the government should not negotiate until ETA renounces violence and disarms.

[Copyright AP with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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