Zapatero to ask permission to start talks with ETA
26 June 2006, MADRID — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will go to parliament within the next few days to ask for permission to start talks with ETA.
26 June 2006
MADRID — Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will go to parliament within the next few days to ask for permission to start talks with ETA.
The Basque terrorist group declared a permanent ceasefire three months ago.
Zapatero had promised to visit the lower house of Parliament before the end of June, when MPs go on their summer recess until September.
It was still not clear if talks would have the support of the conservative opposition Popular Party (PP), which recently withdrew its backing claiming Zapatero's administration was following a timetable laid out by ETA and by its banned political arm, Batasuna.
PP leader Mariano Rajoy refused to lay that question to rest on Sunday, saying instead that "you can't get rid of the terrorist group at any price" and adding that if the government "negotiates with the group on what (the latter) is asking for, that's against the law".
Other political parties represented in parliament have extended their full support to Zapatero so that a dialogue with ETA can start in order to end the group's terrorist campaign which has claimed 817 lives since the 1960s.
ETA has engaged in a violent campaign to carve out an independent state from portions of northern Spain and southwestern France.
Over the past several years, however, it has substantially reduced its use of violence in that effort.
Zapatero's presentation to parliament comes after the anti-terrorist Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska called Gorka Aguirre - the head of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV), which has governed the Basque Country for two decades - to testify about his alleged criminal links with ETA.
Grande-Marlaska, who has also called former PNV leader Xavier Arzalluz as a witness, accuses Aguirre of having acted as an intermediary in the collection of the so-called revolutionary tax, one of the main ways that the Basque terrorist group finances its activities.
The two men's appearance in court is linked to the police operation carried out on June 20 in Spain and France to break up ETA's extortion network, a move which resulted in 12 arrests.
Aguirre - who is in charge of the PNV's foreign relations and was a middleman in the negotiations that led to ETA's 1998 ceasefire during the government of PP prime minister Jose Maria Aznar - contacted the extortion network in April, the judge claims.
The PNV on Sunday expressed its support for the "work (of Aguirre) in the search for roads to peace".
Meanwhile, the Socialist Party's parliamentary spokesman, Diego Lopez Garrido, said he was convinced that the PNV was a democratic party and that neither its leaders nor its members "have anything to do with extortion networks".
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news