ETA ‘ready to announce ceasefire’
11 March 2004
MADRID – The Basque separatist group ETA may announce a ceasefire on Sunday, Spanish media reports say.
The banned political party Batasuna – widely seen as the group’s political wing – said ETA wanted to start talks with the new Spanish government.
If announced, the ceasefire would coincide with celebrations across Basque Spain of homeland day, the BBC reported.
Commentators say ETA now believes it cannot achieve its aims by acts of terror.
ETA possible change of heart follows the shock felt in Spain after last month’s devastating Madrid railway bombings, an attack thought to have been carried out by Islamic extremists.
It has come under increasing pressure from the Spanish security forces, with more than 600 alleged supporters arrested in the past four years.
Batasuna leader Arnaldo Otegi said on Friday that he thought Eta was prepared to give up violence.
“Their latest statements, taking a clear position towards the new government of Spain to sit down and talk, point in that direction,” he told Deia newspaper.
Some Spanish newspapers also carried rumours that ETA was planning to announce a truce on Easter Sunday.
Otegi said the Madrid bombings, which the outgoing government mistakenly blamed on ETA, had made it necessary to find a new approach.
“What’s important continues to be understanding that it is possible to change the situation if there is political will,” he said.
“We have to make the effort here and now, and we have to do it amongst ourselves.”
Batasuna, which renamed itself the Patriotic Socialists after it was banned last year, has often denied being the political wing of ETA but does at times speak on ETA’s behalf.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Spanish news