Spanish government says ETA ceasefire is insufficient
A ceasefire declaration by Basque separatist fighters ETA is insufficient and the group must renounce violence forever, Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Monday.
"ETA has to renounce violence completely, forever," said Rubalcaba, the most senior member of the government yet to react to Sunday's video declaration by three hooded ETA members.
The ETA statement was very far from meeting the demands of the Spanish government and even ETA's own outlawed political wing Batasuna: "a definitive and unconditional abandonment of armed struggle," he told the Spanish public television station TVE.
ETA declared in a video statement Sunday that it had decided several months ago to halt violent attacks but it did not say whether the ceasefire was permanent or temporary.
Listed as a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, ETA is blamed for the deaths 829 people in a 42-year campaign of bombings and shootings for a homeland independent of Spain.
The governnment of Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was sceptical about the ceasefire, he said.
Political parties had already described ETA's declaration as not going far enough because it failed to say how long the ceasefire would last nor whether ETA was permanently renouncing arms.
The interior minister vowed to maintain the government's antiterrorist policy.
"We are not going to change a dot or a comma in our antiterrorist policy. What we want is for ETA to renounce violence, so long as it does not break with violence it will not be admitted into institutions."
Batasuna, declared illegal since 2003 because of its ties with ETA, aims to return to politics in time to take part with its new ally in Basque and northern Navarra municipal elections in 2011.
© 2010 AFP