ETA cannot use ceasefire to re-arm says Zapatero

15th November 2006, Comments 0 comments

15 November 2006 , PARIS — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said ETA will gain nothing by using the ceasefire declared in March to re-arm and regroup.

15 November 2006

PARIS — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said ETA will gain nothing by using the ceasefire declared in March to re-arm and regroup.

The Spanish premier vowed to take no further steps in the nascent dialogue with the group until it demonstrates a commitment to peace.

In an interview in Wednesday's edition of the centre-right French daily Le Figaro, Zapatero said "the ball is in ETA's court," so that if the group wants to move ahead, the government will too.

With a renewal of separatist street violence in the Basque region, suspicions of ETA involvement in the recent theft of guns in southern France and the group's increasingly strident rhetoric, he said always said the peace process would be "long, hard and difficult. We need calm, good faith and strength".

Zapatero the Spanish parliament authorized a process of dialogue with ETA when it shows it is willing to lay down its arms, a circumstance that "has to be verified."

"After 40 years of terrorism, that won't happen from one day to the next. Democracy knows how to wait," Zapatero said, adding that "there will be no gestures on our part until the end of violence is a fact."

Convinced that ending terrorism is Spanish democracy's greatest challenge, the prime minister believes that a long-term view is necessary.

With regard to the possibility of transferring jailed ETA members to prisons in or near the Basque region to help the talks along, Zapatero said that there will be no measures taken as long as there is no certainty of ETA's good will.

He avoided saying anything about "negotiating tactics."

With regard to Batasuna, ETA's banned political wing, he asked that it obey the law and defend its ideas democratically, without violence.

"Without that principle, there can be no discussion," he said.

ETA has killed more than 850 people since 1968 in its campaign to establish an independent state in Basque-populated regions of northern Spain and southwestern France, though its last deadly attack was more than three years ago.

The prime minister rejected the "absurd" pretensions of ETA to drag France into the process and emphasized that the neighbouring country has always collaborated greatly with Spain, for which he thanked French president Jacques Chirac.

"France has no political role at all in this matter and has never paid the slightest attention to ETA's provocations," Zapatero said.

He said he believed within ETA there was a unity of points of view, without internal divisions when it comes to taking decisions, but perhaps there are some "nuances," although he said that "we don't have enough information to think there are opposing tendencies within the organization".

ETA announced a "permanent" cease-fire in late March, and the Spanish parliament voted three months later to authorize Zapatero to initiate a dialogue with the group, an effort that has yet to lead to any actual talks.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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