The European Parliament has voted to back Spain’s peace process with the Basque separatist group, ETA, by a slim majority.
A resolution supporting the peace talks with the armed group, launched by the Spanish Prime Minister, was passed by 321 votes to 311. A separate motion by conservatives saying that ETA had not met pre-conditions for talks was narrowly defeated.
ETA declared a permanent ceasefire earlier this year, after a four decade terror campaign, aimed at winning a separate Basque state. The President of the European Parliament said the vote for the peace process was “a message of unity against terrorism” . He said: “the Council of Europe has once again remembered the victims of terrorism.”
But right-wing opponents of the vote said the peace talks and the debate only served to give publicity to what they described as “terrorists”.
Euro MP and Spanish Popular Party member Jaime Mayor Oreja said: “Today is a day of satisfaction for ETA and for Left Nationalists, who’ve now seen this vote divide Europeans, not just the Spanish people. ETA has always wanted to internationalise the conflict and today it has succeeded in doing so.”
The votes take place a day after French police said they were investigating whether ETA stole guns from a factory in France.