In a much-awaited speech to the Spanish parliament Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has mounted a stubborn defence of his government’s negotiations with Basque terrorists ETA. He came under attack heightened from the opposition after the Madrid airport bombing. It has consistently criticised Zapatero for talking before getting assurances ETA would renounce violence.
“On the twenty ninth of December all the Spanish people heard me say that we were all better off than five years ago, and that in a year’s time we would be even better. Even if it doesn’t happen very often between politicians, I want to admit that I made a clear mistake,” Zapatero said.
“The government wants to affirm once again its will to fight violence and terror, we want to achieve this through the biggest and best unity of all political forces in this task. I want to make it clear that we will not have a dialogue with those who use violence; never, never,” he added. “My government has always done this, and it will continue to do everything in its power to reach a complete peace, within the framework of the law and constitution”.
Unity was the watchword for the session as Zapatero demanded all Spain’s politicians stand together against the ETA threat. But for the moment the opposition does not look ready to heed the call.