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Madrid rejects freed ETA supporter's call for talks


Madrid rejects freed ETA supporter's call for talks

The Spanish government has rejected a call by one of ETA’s top political supporters just released from prison for renewed dialogue. Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the banned Basque separatist party Batasuna, was freed after serving a 15-month sentence for praising acts of terrorism by ETA.

Otegi said: “For many years there has been a deep, unresolved political problem in this country.” He added the only way to resolve it was through “dialogue and negotiation.” Otegi was imprisoned in July 2007, three days after ETA officially broke off a ceasefire and threatened to attack the Spanish government “on all fronts.” He now faces other charges including representing the political wing of ETA.

And the government is taking a hardline on his call for talks. The ruling Socialists’ deputy leader Jose Blanco said: “There’s no possibility of restarting dialogue. All the doors have been closed and the only possibility for Batasuna is to convince ETA to abandon its weapons.”

But the militant group appears as committed to violence as ever. It has been blamed for two bomb blasts at resorts in southern Spain two weeks ago. No one was injured but the attacks caused extensive disruption.