The violent Basque separatist group ETA has called on the Spanish government to take the next step in the region’s peace process.In an interview with a Basque newspaper, two unidentified leaders said Spanish and French authorities should end their offensives against the group and dispense with what they described as “repressive attitudes”. But the Spanish deputy prime minister, Maria-Teresa Fernandez de la Vega, indicated the government is not going to make any significant gestures. “There are no shortcuts to peace, no detours. There’s no political price to pay. It’s a process we are going to follow, the path is clear, it’s the way of the rule of law. Our system plays by the rules of the democratic game, and we must not forget the victims,” she said. The government said last week the group was keeping to a permanent ceasefire it declared two months ago after a 40-year campaign in which it has killed more than 800 people. However, the group has broken at least four such truces in the past and Madrid has vowed to keep a close eye on the situation. Victims’ relatives are keeping pressure on the government not to make major concessions to the separatists. They are particularly concerned about the release of ETA prisoners – a key demand of the militants. In their interview, the ETA leaders said an amnesty for prisoners was, in their words, “democratically indispensable”.
ETA says Madrid should make next move