No route towards Basque peace deal in sight

8th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

8 September 2005, MADRID — Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Basque premier Juan José Ibarretxe failed to find any route to a peace deal in the Basque Country after talks in Madrid.

8 September 2005

MADRID — Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Basque premier Juan José Ibarretxe failed to find any route to a peace deal in the Basque Country after talks in Madrid.

After a more-than-two-hour meeting, Spanish public administration Minister Jordi Sevilla spoke to reporters, while the office of the Basque "lehendakari" (president), Juan Jose Ibarretxe, released a communique.

Sevilla said the talks centered on the "political normalisation" of the Basque region, noting "there is identity of points of view as to the need to end violence, and that must include the disappearance" of the terrorist organisation ETA.

ETA's dissolution is "an inescapable condition for pursuing any normalistion process, because the only abnormal thing is terrorism and violence," said Sevilla, adding that on that "there is agreement with the lehendakari and all Basques."

The government's position, he insisted, is that the all-party round table proposed by Ibarretxe would not be valid unless ETA were out of the picture.

In August, Ibarretxe announced his intention to embark on a round of "discreet" meetings with Basque political parties that would include the outlawed Batasuna, considered ETA's political arm.

Ibarretxe's office cited the leader's desire "to initiate dialogue with all the Basque parties" so as to "strike agreements that usher in political normalisation".

Though Ibarretxe and other Basque nationalists condemn the actions of ETA, , the lehendakari has put forward a proposal for the Basque provinces to become a region in "free association" with the rest of the country.

Ibarretxe also opposes the political ostracism of radical Basque separatist groups such as Batasuna.

The meeting was Ibarretxe's fourth visit to the prime minister's office since the Socialist Zapatero took office in April 2004.

His predecessor, conservative Spanish premier Jose Maria Aznar, declined to meet with the Basque leader.

ETA has killed more than 830 people since 1968 in its campaign to create an independent Basque state from parts of northern Spain and south-western France.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news


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