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ETA ceasefire: fresh hopes that Basque region will find a way forward

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ETA ceasefire: fresh hopes that Basque region will find a way forward


ETA has declared ceasefires before in its 37 year history, but the key word this time is “permanent”. The seperatist movement wants to create an independent state in Northern Spain and South-West France, a desire that has led to years of bloody conflict and the deaths of 850 people.

“The aim is to drive forward the democratic process in the Basque country,” said an unidentified spokesperson in the group’s broadcast video message, “in order to construct a new framework in which our rights as a people will be recognised.” Reaction to the news has been mixed. But the leader of the banned Batasuna Party, long seen as ETA’s political wing, hailed the announcement as “historic”: “The Socialist government and the UMP (French governing party) government should make the most of this political opportunity, both governments have the chance to make their contribution within a new democratic framework and as a consequence, they must lift all the repressive measures and the limitations placed on the political activity of Batasuna.” 2.1 million people live in the Basque region. The leader of the moderate nationalist government Juan Jose Ibarretxe, said it meant the dreams of the people would no longer be frustrated: “This declaration of a permanent ceasefire by ETA is an enormous relief to all of the Basque society. It opens a window of hope that nobody should close. We all have to work to definitively open the door to the peace process that will bring a final dialogue and an end to violence.”
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