“ETA has only one destiny- to disband and lay down its weapons.” That was the message from Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. In his first state of the nation address to parliament, Zapatero said his Socialist government would work towards ending 37 years of violence by Basque militant group ETA, which has killed more than 800 people.
Zapatero said: “There’s no political price that can be put on an end to violence. But politics can contribute to ending violence.” Zapatero, who took power just over a year ago, said Spain was seen as an open and tolerant society. He defended a new law allowing gay couples to marry. Several conservative mayors say they’ll refuse to perform the ceremonies.
Zapatero also referred to changes in divorce laws and an amnesty allowing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to apply for residency. Zapatero held talks earlier this month with the outgoing premier of the Basque Country, Juan Jose Ibarretxe, seeking to increase the region’s autonomy.
Ibarretxe’s plan for “free association”, including Basque citizenship, took a knock when his moderate nationalists lost ground to ETA’s political allies in recent regional elections.