War of words erupts over peace marches

12th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

12 January 2007, MADRID — A war of words was underway on Friday over two peace marches planned for this weekend in Madrid and Bilbao.

12 January 2007

MADRID — A war of words was underway on Friday over two peace marches planned for this weekend in Madrid and Bilbao.

The row heatedup after ETA's political wing, the outlawed Batasuna, announced on Thursday that it would join a demonstration against terrorism this weekend in Bilbao.

The march, called for Saturday by Basque regional president Juan Jose Ibarretxe under the slogan "For Peace and Dialogue," had been supported by the ruling Socialist Party under the condition that Batasuna did not participate.

Late on Thursday night, Ibarettxe was forced to change the slogan in order to force Batasuna to condemn the ETA bomb attack – something they have so far failed to do.

Spain's main opposition party, the conservative Popular Party (PP), said it was not taking part, objecting to the explicit support for dialogue.

The rightists say the shattering of a cease-fire by ETA's deadly 30 December car bombing of the Madrid airport makes dialogue impossible and that the only legitimate objective regarding the separatist-terrorist organization is "to defeat it".

The march is a response to the bombing, which killed two Ecuadorians - the first fatalities in an ETA attack in over three years - and brought to a halt the incipient peace process being pursued in recent months between the Socialist government and the radical group.

The leaders of Batasuna, who still have not condemned this bombing or previous ETA attacks, justified their unprecedented decision to take part in the demonstration with the argument that "it is crucial to give a boost to the political process" and also because they said they identify with the slogan for the march.

The illegal group's spokesman, Pernando Barrena, said at a press conference in the Basque city of San Sebastian that Batasuna members will join the march "as citizens" because they believe it is important to continue with the peace process.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's administration, however, says the fledgling pursuit of a negotiated peace was torpedoed by the attack.

ETA, an organization on both the U.S. and EU list of terrorist organizations, has killed more than 830 people since taking up arms in 1968 to seek a Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.

Most residents of the Basque region, which enjoys significant autonomy, reject ETA and terrorist violence.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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