Wednesday, March 22, 2006
ETA DECLARES PERMANENT CEASFIRE
The Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA)has declared a permanent ceasfire in their armed struggle for an independent Basque nation. In response, Spain's Socialist prime minister called on the entire nation Wednesday to set aside political differences and work together for lasting peace.
Zapatero's call for unity came shortly after the head of the conservative opposition Popular Party, Mariano Rajoy, urged the government "not to pay any political price" in eventual negotiations with the separatist organization.
The Zapatero government, however, already has the go-ahead from the Spanish parliament to start a dialogue with ETA provided that the group announced an abandonment of arms. That was passed in the chamber on May 17th last year, but with the opposition of the Partido Popular.
The chance of dialogue has been expected for some time since the Zapatero government came to power and the Prime Minister’s repeated insistence that now was the time for talks, given that two years had passed without a fatality caused by ETA. A bombing and disruption campaign with smaller devices has continued however. As Zapatero put it, now was the ‘best time in many years to start to see the start of the end of violence’.
Following is the ETA statement in full and then comments from Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams reported in Sinn Fein News.
Message from Euskadi Ta Askatasuna to the Basque People.
Euskadi Ta Askatasuna has decided to declare a permanent ceasefire from March 24th 2006.
The objective of this decision is to encourage a democratic process in Euskal Herria in order to build a new framework in which the rights as a people which correspond to us can be recognised and looking to the future assuring us the possibility of the development of all political options.
At the end of this process the Basque citizens must have the word and decision on their future.
The Spanish and French states must recognise the results of such a democratic process, without any type of limitations. The decisions which the Basque citizens take on our future must be respected.
We make a call to all the agents to act with responsibility, and be conscious of the step taken by ETA.
ETA makes a call to the Spanish and French authorities to respond to this new situation in a positive manner, leaving repression to one side.
Finally, we make a call to all the men and women of the Basque country to get involved in this process, and to fight for the rights which as a patria correspond to us.
ETA expresses its wish and will that the process now started reaches its end, and in that we a real democratic situation is achieved for Euskal Herria, overcoming the conflict of many long years and constructing a peace based on justice.
We reaffirm our intention to carry on taking steps in the future in line with this wish.
The end of conflict, here and now is possible. This is the wish and the will of ETA.
Euskal Herrian, 2006 ko martxoan
Euskadi Ta Askatsasuna
Gerry Adams welcomes ETA Ceasefire
The Basque independence group, ETA announced a permanent ceasefire today. Euskadi Ta Askatsasuna said in it's video statement that the "end of conflict, here and now is possible".
Sinn Fein has been in dialogue with all of the Basque political parties and in particular Batasuna. Gerry Adams has also written to the Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero.
Speaking after the announcement Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said:
"Sinn Féin's objective has been to promote conflict resolution and to assist in whatever way we can the development of a peace process. I welcome today's news from the Basque Country.
"ETA's announcement provides all sides to the conflict with an opportunity of historic proportions. Today's announcement gives a considerable boost to the development of a conflict resolution process.
"It is incumbent on all sides to the conflict to grasp this opportunity, and to do everything in their power to make political progress a reality.
"Sinn Fein believes that the key to progress is an inclusive process of dialogue in which all of the participants are treated on the basis of equality. All possibilities must be on the agenda for discussion.
"There is a particular onus and responsibility on the Spanish government to respond positively and creatively.
"The Spanish government should immediately intervene to stop the political trials against Batasuna leaders, including Arnaldo Otegi."