ETA 'ready to go further' after ceasefire

12th July 2011, Comments 0 comments

Armed Basque separatist group ETA said it was ready "to go further on the path undertaken" after calling a ceasefire in January, according to a statement released Tuesday.

The band, blamed for 829 deaths, it was "absolutely convinced" there was a chance to build peace and freedom in the Basque Country, said excerpts of the statement released by Basque dailies Gara and Berria.

ETA, classed as a terrorist group by the European Union, is blamed for 829 deaths during a four-decade campaign of shooting and bombing for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southern France.

On January 10, ETA announced a permanent, verifiable ceasefire. But Spain's government rejected the offer, demanding the group go further and disband entirely.

Only a few excerpts of the latest statement were released Tuesday by the two Basque newspapers, which promised to deliver a full text in their print editions Wednesday.

According to the portions released, ETA said its latest statement ratified its readiness to "go further on the path undertaken."

It called on all parties "to work in favour of a solution and to open between everyone spaces for dialogue and negotiation."

ETA welcomed May 22 regional and municipal elections in which a new pro-independence Basque coalition, Bildu, won a quarter of the vote after a lengthy court battle to prove it was not a mouthpiece for ETA.

Bildu became the second strongest political movement in the north of Spain after the centre-right nationalist PNV party which got 30 percent of the vote.

The local elections showed that the Basque Country had "won the political and ideological battle over the outlawing" of the party, the ETA statement said.

According to the Basque newspapers, ETA's statement discusses Spain and France's "strategy of repression and blockage" and developments in recent years in Basque separatist politics.

Considered to be severely weakened by the arrests of a number of top leaders in recent years, ETA has not carried out an attack on Spanish soil since August 2009.

On July 7, armed police arrested a suspected Basque separatist in Britain in connection with an attempt to assassinate Spain's King Juan Carlos in Bilbao's Guggenheim museum in 1997.

Eneko Gogeaskoetxea Arronategui, 44, was detained by armed police on a European arrest warrant in Cambridge, eastern England, and was placed in custody by a court in London.

That arrest came a day after ETA suspect Daniel Derguy was apprehended on terrorism charges in Cahors, southwest France.

© 2011 AFP

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