Thursday, October 20, 2011

Basque Terror Group ETA Claims It's Ending Terror Campaign

After nearly 50 years of an unending terror campaign across Spain, the terror group ETA is claiming it's ending the use of violence to further its goals of Basque independence.
The group’s announcement of “the definite cessation of its military activity,” and its appeal for a “direct dialogue” with the governments in Madrid and Paris, came in the form of a written statement and an accompanying video posted online, which were sent to news organizations.

The renunciation of armed struggle went a step further than previous cease-fires the group has issued, and often broken, over the years. It was perhaps an acknowledgment that the group had been badly weakened by a crackdown by Spanish and French security forces.

Spanish leaders, facing a debt crisis and severe austerity measures, welcomed the rare bit of good news with relief and cautious optimism.

“The state of law today triumphs,” said Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. “Our democracy will be one without terrorism, but not without memory,” he added, recalling the 829 people killed by ETA over more than four decades.

Mariana Rajoy, the leader of the Popular Party, called the announcement “good news,” with the caveat that “the tranquillity of Spaniards will only be complete when the full dismantling of ETA has occurred.”

In fact, the statement fails to meet many of Spain’s longtime demands — ETA did not say it would disarm, dissolve or renounce the goal of independence — and experts cautioned that many problems would have to be resolved before peace could be secured.

Far from dissolving, ETA, which is considered a terrorist group by the European Union and the United States, made it plain that it saw itself, and its political wing, as a major players in future negotiations on a tangle of complex issues arising from the prolonged violence.

Those issues include demands for the release of hundreds of Basque militants imprisoned in French and Spanish jails, including top-ranking figures from the leadership of ETA and Batasuna, a banned political party that has been closely associated with ETA. Just as thorny will be issues relating to the disarming of ETA and the decommissioning of its arms and explosives, the experts said, and the reintegration of former militants into everyday life.
This isn't the first time the group claimed that it was renouncing terrorism so I'm not entirely sure that the group can hold up its side of the bargain.

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