Madrid gets green light for new talks with ETA

16th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 May 2005, MADRID — The Spanish parliament gave the government the green light to begin 'historic' talks with ETA to end 35 years of violence in the Basque country provided the Basque separatist group clearly pledges to lay down its arms.

17 May 2005

MADRID — The Spanish parliament gave the government the green light to begin 'historic' talks with ETA to end 35 years of violence in the Basque country provided the Basque separatist group clearly pledges to lay down its arms.

All parliamentary groups except the main opposition Popular Party (PP), backed a resolution sponsored by the ruling Socialists saying that ETA "has no other prospect than dissolve and lay down its arms".

The vote was 192 in favor and 147 — all from the PP — against.

The government motion, which specifically named ETA, offered support for "dialogue between the relevant state authorities and whoever decides to abandon violence".

It came despite bomb attacks carried out by ETA at the weekend.

Four small explosions rocked the Spanish Basque country targeting businesses in the region and slightly wounding three people on Sunday.

The blasts occurred early on Sunday in the Basque towns of Beasain, Bergara, Elgoibar and Soraluze.

Two regional police officers and a security guard of the Felix Gabilondo company suffered breathing difficulties after one of the blasts caused a spillage of corrosive liquid.

The assessment of material damage was not completed, but most damage was done to windows and company doors, the officials said.

The Basque interior ministry said the armed Basque separatist group ETA was to blame.

The attacks came four days after Zapatero, in his first state of the nation address, asked ETA to disband.

Two days later his Socialist party presented a draft resolution to parliament backing talks with ETA if the separatist movement lays down its weapons.

But the spokesman for the banned Basque party Batasuna, Arnaldo Otegi, said on the same day that the government had "made a step but not the step" to show they "are ready to respect what Basques decide".

It remained unclear if Otegi meant that Zapatero needed to offer ETA more in order to secure peace.

If talks happen, it would not be the first time the Spanish government has negotiated with the Basque terrorist organisation. There were talks in the 1980s with the then Socialist government, which proved inconclusive.

A majority of Spaniards, or 61.4 percent, back talks with ETA if the group renounces violence, according to a poll published by the newspaper El Pais on Saturday.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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