Spanish media reject ETA ceasefire as 'decoy'

11th January 2011, Comments 0 comments

Spanish media on Tuesday dismissed ETA's ceasefire declaration as a "decoy" and "tactical step" to allow the political arm of the Basque separatist group to field candidates in municipal elections.

Centre-right daily El Mundo said ETA "maintains the same demands that have led it to kill over 800 people and it is obvious that it is offering the ceasefire as a tactical move to try to return to political institutions."

The groups statement on Monday talked of a ceasefire, but there was no promise to disband or disarm.

"ETA has decided to declare a permanent and general ceasefire which will be verifiable by the international community," it said in a video declaration that showed three ETA members in white hoods and black berets sitting in front of a table.

Conservative daily ABC said the only novelty in the group's message -- which it deemed "laughable" -- was the offer to make the ceasefire verifiable.

"To not pay attention to this false gesture, you just have to recall how the IRA tricked the international commission charged with controlling its arsenals whenever it wanted," it said.

"ETA does not even seem to believe what it wrote," it added, saying the "sparse" language of the text was possibly "due to a lack of conviction or was simply makeup to place left-wing Basque nationalists in Basque municipal elections in May".

ETA's political wing Batasuna had called on the group to declare a permanent, verifiable ceasefire in an effort to get a ban imposed on its own participation in polls lifted so it can take part in the municipal elections.

Batasuna was ruled illegal in 2003 because of its links with ETA.

The Spanish government made it clear to Batasuna that either ETA abandoned the armed struggle or Batasuna repudiated ETA if it wanted to take part in the elections.

Left-leaning El Pais urged the government to maintain the hard-line against ETA which it adopted since the group called off its last ceasefire in June 2007, citing a lack of progress in its tentative peace talks with Madrid.

"The crack which has opened is the result of an anti-terrorism policy that involves police efficiency and the resistance on the part of the government to give in to demands that it lower its requirements to allow (Batasuna's) legalisation," it said.

"There are reasons therefore to celebrate, and also to maintain that policy," it added.

© 2011 AFP

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