Zapatero calls for ETA to disband and seek peace

11th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

11 May 2005, MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on the armed Basque separatist group ETA to disband and in his first state of the nation address to parliament acknowledged his government's foreign policy differences with Washington.

11 May 2005

MADRID — Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called on the armed Basque separatist group ETA to disband and in his first state of the nation address to parliament acknowledged his government's foreign policy differences with Washington.

"Politics can contribute to the end of violence," Zapatero said in reference to the northern Basque region, where the terrorist group ETA has wagewd a 30-year armed struggle for independence from Madrid and where moderate nationalists are seeking more autonomy.

"ETA has only one destiny — to dissolve itself,"  Zapatero said in reference to the group held responsible for more than 800 deaths in its campaign for independence for the region straddling the Pyrenean mountains.

He said that his government, which won a surprise general election victory in March 2004 three days after Islamic extremists killed 191 people by bombing four commuter
trains in Madrid, would work toward that end.

Zapatero told parliament his administration wanted to work in a spirit of "openness and tolerance," while adding that "there is no political price which can be put on an end to violence."

He said he was confident that "the Spanish people will support us" as his government sought to built "a more democratic, open and inclusive Spain."

On relations with Washington, frosty since Zapatero swiftly withdrew Spanish troops from Iraq weeks after taking office in April 2004, the prime minister said Spain and the United States disagreed but respected each other and supported mutual cooperation.

"We recognise that differences persist regarding our positions on Iraq," Zapatero admitted, while stressing what he termed the "satisfactory" overall evolution of links between the two countries.

Zapatero said that his election had been an expression of popular desire for change and he had been bound by his electoral promises.

"That was why I withdrew troops from Iraq. Today our soldiers are where the Spanish people want them to be," he said.
 
His conservative predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, sent troops to Iraq in the summer of 2003 despite overwhelming public opposition to the war.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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