Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is attending an EU summit in Brussels a day after Basque guerrilla group ETA announced a permanent ceasefire.Here, the focus was on marking a different chapter in the history of Spain and Portugal: their entry into the European Economic Community, 20 years ago. The Spanish premier said any peace process in the Basque conflict would be a long one after so many years of violence. ETA followed its first statement with another saying it wants “dialogue, negotiation and agreement” but many are wary of a group that has broken previous truces. There are calls for the government to demand ETA lays down its weapons and calls an end to extortion before any talks begin. Last month, thousands marched against any negotiations. ETA and its political allies speak of “self-determination”, pushing for a referendum and declaration of Basque independence. Zapatero has ruled that out. A representative of the Association for the Victims of Terrorism said: “This is blackmail. “It is a ceasefire that is conditional on ETA’s main demand, i.e. independence for the Basque autonomous region.” For Mikel Buesa, from a Basque peace movement, it is not the end of ETA terrorism. He says the group has definitely not announced that it is renouncing violence to devote itself to politics. Much of the Spanish press has cautiously welcomed what appears to mark an end to bomb and gun attacks that have killed nearly 850 people. Commentators have linked the truce to the government’s moves to hand more power to the northeastern region of Catalonia.
Zapatero urged to demand ETA disarms before talks