Spain’s ETA says disarmament call ‘constructive’

Agence France-Presse
Basque separatist group ETA welcomed proposals by a group of international experts, who called for the ETA to disarm and dismantle its military

MADRID, Spain – Armed Basque separatist group ETA on Monday welcomed as “constructive” proposals by a group of international experts who had called for it to disarm and dismantle its military apparatus.

ETA, blamed for more than 800 deaths in a four-decade campaign of bombings and shootings for the independence of the Basque homeland which straddles northern Spain and southwestern France, announced a “definitive end” to its armed activity in October 2011.

But it has not formally disarmed or disbanded as demanded by Madrid and Paris, both of which refuse to enter into negotiations with the group, listed by the European Union and United States as a terrorist entity.

ETA has broken ceasefires in the past.

“We believe that with the commitment of all, the proposal as a whole can constitute the departure point to decide on a road map,” ETA said in a statement published by Basque daily Gara.

Proposals by international experts in the so-called Social Forum – an association of of civil associations and experts set up to spur on the Basque peace process – issued on May 27, were a “constructive contribution”, the group said.

The ETA denounced Spain and France’s refusals to enter into dialogue.

In their report, the experts, including former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, said: “As an essential part of the peace process, we recommend designing a controlled, orderly and consensual process that culminates in the dismantling of weapons and military structures” of ETA.

They also urged that the process be independently overseen.

The Social Forum recommended that ETA members held in jails across Spain and France be moved to prisons in the Basque region — a long-standing request of Basque separatists — but rejected the possibility of granting them an amnesty.

ETA has been significantly weakened in recent years, with many of its leaders arrested and arms caches seized in raids by Spanish and French security forces and it has suffered a loss of support among Basque people.

Its last attack on Spanish soil was in August 2009. –

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