Batasuna leader loses confidence in peace process

12th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

12 April 2006, SAN SEBASTIAN — The leader of the banned political party Batasuna said he wants Spain and France to allow the Basque people to decide if the region should have independence.

12 April 2006

SAN SEBASTIAN — The leader of the banned political party Batasuna said he wants Spain and France to allow the Basque people to decide if the region should have independence.

Arnaldo Otegi, the leader of the political wing of ETA, spoke for the first time since the permanent ceasefire declared by the separatist terrorists last month.

Otegi, who was released from prison last week on bail after facing charges of inciting violence, said: "Batasuna wants to fight for peaceful independence and socialism." 

But since the ceasefire, which many think will see the end of nearly 40 years of terrorist violence from ETA in Spain, Otegi said he had lost a lot of confidence in the peace process because the "persecution" of Batasuna supporters had got worse since ETA's truce.

Otegi's comments came after ETA said it would see through the peace process to the end but warned if courageous steps are not taken "this won't move forward".

In its most recent internal bulletin, broadcast by Basque public radio and television station EiTB, the group said the need to reach an agreement to respect the rights of the Basque Country and "give the ... decision to the Basque citizens".

ETA believes that the key to resolving the conflict lies in respecting the will of the citizens and recognising that the process will be "long and irregular".

The group explained the reasons it unilaterally declared a permanent ceasefire last month, saying it wanted to "propel a democratic process" and make a "change in the current political situation".

ETA is an acronym for the Basque words meaning 'Homeland and Freedom'.

The group took up arms in 1968 when Spain was governed by the right-wing dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, with the aim of achieving an independent country comprising parts of northern Spain and southern France.

It has killed 817 people since then, usually using car bombs and shootings.

After presenting a historical review of earlier negotiation processes, ETA said they "were usually long and irregular" and added that the road ahead "could have ups and downs and moments of breakdown".

In any case, the group said that its aim "is to carry out the process to the end," adding that - if the other party, the Spanish government, did not have the will to follow through - "it will be necessary to fight it and denounce it ... (because) if concrete steps are not taken and courageous decisions are not made, allowing the process to decay, this won't move forward".

ETA also made clear that a total amnesty for its imprisoned members and the expulsion of the armed forces and Spanish police forces from the Basque Region continue to be its objectives.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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