An apparent offer by ETA to rekindle the peace process in Spain’s Basque region has been greeted with scepticism by many in the country. While the Socialist government’s made no official response, the main moderate Basque nationalist party said people only wanted to hear that ETA had abandoned violence forever. Its president called on Batasuna, the armed group’s political ally, to, in his words, “come out from under the umbrella of ETA.”
In an interview with a Basque language newspaper yesterday ETA offered to make new commitments to peace if the Spanish state stopped what it called its “attacks” in the Basque region, where police have been arresting ETA suspects. The main opposition centre-right Popular Party condemned the statement as blackmail. On the other side of the political spectrum a leader of the United Left accused ETA of looking to the past and not the future. It was the group’s first statement since January, when it claimed responsibility for a car bombing that killed two people at Madrid’s main airport.
Batasuna, which has been banned for refusing to condemn ETA’s violence, described the apparent peace overture as a “great opportunity”. The move comes in the run-up to local Basque elections at the end of May. But at this stage it is still unclear what, if any, political representation ETA will have.