Zapatero announces startof peace talks with ETA
22 May 2006, BARAKALDO — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he will go before Parliament next month to announce the start of a dialogue with the Basque terrorist group ETA.
22 May 2006
BARAKALDO — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said he will go before Parliament next month to announce the start of a dialogue with the Basque terrorist group ETA.
Zapatero, who made the announcement in the Basque Country during a Socialist Party rally, said he would advise the political parties in Parliament of "the start of the process of dialogue" in June.
ETA, which has killed 817 people in Spain since launching its terror campaign 38 years ago, declared a permanent ceasefire in March.
Zapatero has said he would begin talks with ETA if the ceasefire held.
All parties in the Spanish Parliament, except the opposition conservative Popular Party, have given their support to Zapatero.
Last year, parliament agreed the government could start talks with the separatist group if they gave up violence.
Zapatero also said he would work to change the preamble to the Spanish Constitution to include a mention of victims of terrorism.
"Peace and co-existence should be the fruit of a shared effort," Zapatero said.
The Spanish prime minister said his government would take all the time needed to ensure that the process was "irreversible in the best direction".
ETA, an acronym in Basque for Homeland and Freedom, started its violent campaign in 1968 to seek a Basque nation comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.
The terrorist group historically used funds generated by extortion rackets against business owners in the Basque region and other parts of Spain to fund its operations.
As recently as early March, ETA sent extortion demands to businessmen accompanied by photos of their wives or children, who were threatened with death.
The group, which took up arms when Spain was governed by the right-wing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, has often targeted military or police personnel, as well as politicians, journalists and government officials.
ETA, however, has not carried out a fatal attack since May 2003.
The Basque region enjoys significant autonomy and is governed by a moderate nationalist party that, like the great majority of Basques, rejects ETA and terrorist violence.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news