Zapatero says ETA 'weaker than ever'

13th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Democracy in Spain is "stronger than ever" and the armed Basque separatist organisation ETA is "weaker than ever", Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Wednesday during a visit to China.

ETA, blamed for the deaths of more than 820 people in its more than 40-year campaign of violence in support of an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and southwestern France, declared a permanent ceasefire in January.

"Democracy is stronger than ever, ETA is weaker than ever," Zapatero told a press conference at the Spanish embassy in Beijing, where he met with senior Chinese officials on Tuesday.

The prime minister said his government would "continue with all its might to reduce the possibilities" of any further violent action by the separatist group. Madrid has demanded that ETA lay down its weapons and disband.

"Despite ETA's announcement of a ceasefire, we cannot lower our guard, and we must maintain a policy of firmness and zero tolerance," the Spanish interior ministry said last week in a statement.

Spanish authorities arrested two suspected members of an ETA commando unit on Tuesday, the interior ministry said. The men are believed to have provided weapons, explosives and other armed equipment to the group.

© 2011 AFP

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