Top chef leaves Basque region after bomb attack

19th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

BAYONNE, France, Feb 17, 2007 (AFP) - One of France's top chefs, Alain Ducasse, has withdrawn from a restaurant in the Basque region after several bomb attacks.

BAYONNE, France, Feb 17, 2007 (AFP) - One of France's top chefs, Alain Ducasse, has withdrawn from a restaurant in the Basque region after several bomb attacks.

The radical Basque party, Batasuna, on Saturday welcomed the departure of the only chef to have three Michelin stars for his three restaurants in Monaco, Paris and New York.

"Batasuna rejoices at the withdrawal of the star chef Alain Ducasse, who divided the village of Bidarray," the party said in a statement.

It added that Ducasse's action "should be an example for all the other 'wheeler dealers' who rob the Basque country and make it look too folksy through over-tourism."

"The Basque country needs the harmonious development of its resources and riches, in the interests of its citizens," added the party, which is banned in Spain because of its suspected links to the Basque separatist guerrillas ETA.

The Alain Ducasse group confirmed this week that the chef had resigned from the board of the Ostape auberge in Bidarray, which had been the target of several attacks, the last in June, which caused damage but no injuries.

The company did not give a reason for the decision nor make any other comment.

The storm over Ducasse ended as a leader of the Basque separatist movement left a French jail this week.

Philippe Bidart, a head of the Iparretarrak French Basque group, was greeted by about 250 supporters when he went on Saturday to Magalas, near the southern city of Beziers.

Bidart was jailed in 1988 for the murders of three policemen. He left jail on parole on Thursday. Now 53, he will have to work as a social worker for asylum seekers.

"As I said when I left prison, I repeat now that the situation in the Basque country needs the establishment of a conflict resolution process to obtain the recognition of the existence of the Basque people by the French state," Bidart said.

He said it would be "the only way to obtain a just and durable peace" before heading off to a private party with supporters carryinn the Basque flag. A lawyer for Bidart said he would make no more public statements because of what he called a hostile campaign by the press since the separatist leader's release.

On Thursday, French Justice Minister Pascal Clement threatened Bidart with legal action for "justifying crimes" if his comments went too far.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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