Spain's Zapatero urges ETA to 'give up weapons forever'

7th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Tuesday called on ETA to "give up weapons for ever," after the Basque separatist group announced a ceasefire in its campaign of violence.

"All democratic political parties have the same view of ETA's statement, one of deep disappointment," he told a news conference.

"Because statements are worth nothing, only decisions matter and only one decision matters, and that can be summed up in a few words: 'Give up weapons forever.'"

In a video declaration, ETA on Sunday announced it had decided several months ago to halt "armed offensive actions".

Spain's government rejected the announcement as totally inadequate and demanded ETA renounce guns and bombs forever in its battle for an independent homeland.

But Zapatero had not previously reacted to the ETA declaration himself.

He also warned Basque separatists who have not condemned ETA violence and who want to take part in regional elections in 2011 that "they are in the same situation today that they were before the announcement."

Spanish authorities have banned various Basque parties from taking part in elections over their links to ETA.

ETA, banned as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, is blamed for 829 deaths in its 42-year campaign for independence for the Basque region of northern Spain and southwestern France.

ETA announced a "permanent ceasefire" in March 2006, and shortly afterwards Zapatero's Socialist government said it was launching tentative peace talks with the outfit.

But in December 2006 the group set off a bomb at a car park at Madrid's airport, killing two men, and in June 2007 it formally called off its ceasefire citing a lack of concessions by the government in peace talks.

Since then, the government has taken a hard line against the group and its political wing, Batasuna, arresting dozens of members.

© 2010 AFP

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