CORRECTED: Basque rebels ETA says region on brink of 'period of change'
The armed Basque separatist group ETA has said the troubled Spanish region is on the brink "of a period of change" in a statement read at an event in France, a Basque newspaper reported Sunday.
The statement was read out before thousands of people by three masked people who said they represented ETA at a tribute on Saturday in the French town of Ciboure near the Spanish border for a deceased member of the group, the pro-independence Basque daily Gara reported.
"Euskal Herria on on the doorstep of living a period of change, to be able to recover its own voice. Today it is an option that feels close and that is possible to achieve," it said.
Euskal Herria, the region ETA is fighting to be made independent from Spain, spans the Pyrenees and includes the Spanish autonomy of the Basque Country as well as parts of Spain's Navarra and southern France.
ETA, which is listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, has been held responsible for the deaths of 829 people in its over 40-year-old campaign of gun and bomb attacks on mainly Spanish targets.
The group has not staged an attack on Spanish soil since August 2009 and its latest statement comes amid speculation in Spain that the group may be on the verge of announcing another unilateral ceasefire as it did in 2006.
The outfit has seen dozens of its members arrested in both Spain and France, including a number of its senior military leaders, since it formally called off that ceasefire in June 2007 citing a lack of progress in its tentative peace talks with the government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.
© 2010 AFP