Expatica news

Gerry Adams urges France, Spain to push for Basque peace

The former political voice of the Irish Republican Army hailed ETA’s dissolution on Wednesday, saying governments in France and Spain should seize the chance to end conflict in the Basque Country.

Former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, a figurehead of the Irish republican movement who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland, said there was “a historic opportunity to put conflict aside in that region”.

“There is an onus on the French and Spanish governments to build on these initiatives”, he added.

Adams will fly to the Basque Country on Thursday ahead of a peace conference on Friday, according to the party statement.

“Sinn Fein has been supportive of the efforts to create a peace process in the Basque country for over 20 years,” Adams said.

The Basque separatist group, which waged more than four decades of attacks, killings and kidnappings, in its fight for an independent Basque homeland, announced its dissolution by letter on Wednesday.

The European Union, Spanish and French governments all classify ETA as a terrorist organisation.

But the letter announcing their intention to disband ETA warned that the move did not end the “conflict” between the Basque territories in northern Spain and southwest France and neighbouring European states.

Adams was closely associated with the IRA and the violence of The Troubles in Northern Ireland — which claimed around 3,600 lives from 1968 to 1998 — before becoming a driving force behind the peace process.

Adams has always denied membership of the IRA but has declined to dissociate himself from the paramilitary movement — which completed disarmament in 2005.