Socialists hold first peace talks with Batasuna
6 July 2006, SAN SEBASTIAN — The outlawed political arm of ETA and the Basque Socialist party held the first talks on Thursday towards opening a peace process.
6 July 2006
SAN SEBASTIAN — The outlawed political arm of ETA and the Basque Socialist party held the first talks on Thursday towards opening a peace process.
After the hour-long talks, leaders of both parties said they were optimistic this could open the way to more dialogue between the Basque separatists and the government.
The meeting was held between Patxi López, leader of the Basque socialist party (PSE), and Arnaldo Otegi, leader of Batasuna.
But afterwards, Lopez insisted Batasuna must renounce violence in order to become a legal party once more.
Batasuna was banned in 2002 by the Supreme Court after judges declared it was a terrorist organisation.
Otegi said it had been a sincere meeting on both sides.
"Today we have sat down at a table and spoke in a civilised manner," he said.
"The Basque Country has a historic opportunity to resolve this conflict."
But a demonstration was staged outside the hotel in San Sebastián where the meeting was held by members of the Platform for Spain and Liberty group.
Protestors held banners reading 'Some never forget the victims'.
Pilar Ruiz, the mother of a local police chief killed by ETA, was among those demonstrating.
She said the government should not play games with the memory of her son.
The conservative opposition Popular Party also condemned the meeting as betraying the victims of ETA.
ETA killed 817 people in over 38 years of armed struggle.
The terrorists declared a permanent ceasefire in March.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news