Spain right pressures socialists over ETA
Conservatives in Spain threatened Monday to break their alliance with the Socialist Party's Basque offshoot if it restarts talks with the armed separatist group ETA, a claim the socialists denied.
"We are asking the (Spanish socialist) government to deny in a clear and urgent manner, that it could be negotiating" with ETA, the secretary general of the Popular Party (PP) said at a press conference.
The alliance with the Socialist Party of the Basque Country (PSE), is based on the agreement to not restart negotiations with ETA, and "if this condition is not fulfilled, the pact will be broken", Maria Dolores de Cospedal said.
The PP was responding to an article in the daily newspaper El Mundo that said ETA had contacted the president of the PSE, Jesus Eguiguren, in an attempt to restart talks.
The PSE "categorically" denied the claims, saying in a statement that no line of communication with ETA was open, "neither direct nor indirect".
Spain's interior minister also refuted the claims, reaffirming that one of the key points in the fight against ETA "is that there will be no dialogue."
In March 2009 after regional elections, the PP forged an alliance with the PSE as a means of keeping out the nationalists, who had been in power in the region for 29 years.
The Socialist government in Madrid has taken a hard line on the extremist independence movement since it ended a 15-month-old ceasefire in June 2007, and has arrested dozens of activists from ETA and its political wing Batasuna.
ETA, banned as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 829 deaths in its 41-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.
© 2010 AFP