24 May 2004
MADRID – Negotiations have been going on behind the scenes for months to try to secure a truce with Basque terror group ETA, it was reported Monday.
The Basque Nationalist Party and Eusko Alkartasuna, two Basque regional political parties, have been secretly talking to representatives of the banned Batasuna party, which has links to ETA.
Spanish daily El Mundo claimed the talks have been going on since January.
The regional politicians tried to convince ETA to accept the so-called ‘Plan Ibarretxe’, a radical scheme to give the Basque Country more power from Madrid.
The controversial plan put forward by the Basque prime minister, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, would strengthen the powers of the region, giving it direct representation to the European Union and its own courts. Madrid would still be in charge of defence.
But the Spanish government and main parties have opposed the Basque plan.
ETA leaders were said to have initially said they would not give up the armed struggle and abandon ETA prisoners.
But they were said to have started a series of meetings among members of the banned terrorist organisation to discuss the issue – an historic move.
Security sources in Spain and France were quoted as saying phone taps revealed that some members of ETA were in favour of backing the separatist plan and calling a truce.
Speculation has been rife in Spain since the 11 March terrorist atrocity and a series of significant arrests of ETA members, that the group was on the point of calling a truce.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news