The latest ceasefire from the Basque terrorist group ETA has prompted government scepticism and calls for the group to renounce violence for ever. It is not yet clear if the ceasefire will be permanent, but ETA has seen several senior figures arrested, and growing popular support for legal politics. The immediate reaction from the Basque region interior minister was one of caution:
“We have to consider this as good news,” said Rodolfo Ares. “But I have to say it is absolutely not enough. It doesn’t address what the overwhelming majority of Basque society really wants: that ETA definitively ceases all terrorist activity.”
The dramatic announcement was swiftly followed by calls from one of ETA’s political allies for support from the international community.
“We call on all politicians, trade unionists, the governments of Spain and France and the wider world to take joint responsibility to give a constructive answer to the will of the Basque people,” said Txelui Moreno, from the group Esquerra Abertzale which has emerged from the banned Batasuna party.
ETA’s political wing has close links with Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland. Its leader, Gerry Adams, urged Madrid to grasp the opportunity to end the conflict in the Basque country:
“It’s a very significant statement,” he said, “a commitment by ETA to peaceful and democratic means. I would like to think the Spanish government will seize this in a very positive way.”
Madrid abandoned peace talks in December 2006 when ETA bombed the capital’s Barajas airport. At one time, about 15 per cent of Basques sympathised with the armed independence struggle, but increasing regional autonomy has seen such support wither away.