The peace process with ETA now lies buried under the rubble of a multi-storey car park at Madrid Airport – another casualty of the bomb blast there at the weekend. The Spanish government has broken off all dialogue with the Basque seperatist group in the wake of the attack. Originally, the Prime Minister said the fledgling talks were only suspended, but he was criticised for not taking an unequivocal stance. During a press conference, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba was no less than emphatic: “The talks are over, ETA has broken, terminated and brought an end to the peace process”, he repeated twice for emphasis. “This said, however, it would be fantastic if we could all work together to put an end to violence in Spain.”
That is still not good enough for the opposition. “We want the Prime Minister himself to formally declare that the negotiations are finished, to clear up all doubts over whether it was suspended or finished”, said a spokesman for the Popular Party. It is a painful turnaround for Prime Minister Zapatero, who had made peace a priority. Faced with opposition from victim’s groups and the political right, Zapatero remained undeterred until the events of the weekend derailed his aims.