Added by David Sandercock on January 11, 2011
In a move that could see the end of four decades of violence, Basque separatist group ETA on Monday called a permanent ceasefire.
A statement issued by the group said: “ETA has decided to declare a permanent and general ceasefire which will be verifiable by the international community.” It further added that the ceasefire is a sign of the group’s commitment to a lasting solution and to an end of the armed conflict.
However, the statement did not agree to the key demand set by the Spanish government; that ETA give up its weapons.
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, Interior Minister, said in response that the ceasefire did not meet expectations: “If you ask me if I am calmer today, honestly I would say ‘yes’. If you ask me if it is the end, I would say ‘no’. If you ask me if this statement is what Spanish society was hoping for, I would say ‘absolutely no’,” he told the media in Madrid.
It is not the first ‘permanent’ ceasefire to be issued by the group; a 2006 truce was broken after only nine months when peace talks collapsed. The armed struggle for an independent Basque has claimed more than 800 lives to date.