[lg policy] Spain Calls Basque Declaration Insufficient

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 10 17:20:04 UTC 2011

January 10, 2011
Spain Calls Basque Declaration Insufficient

MADRID — Spain’s interior minister said on Monday that a cease-fire
declaration by the Basque separatist group ETA was not sufficient to
guarantee an end to Spain’s four-decade fight against the nationalist
group. Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, the interior minister, was responding
to ETA’s call on Monday for “a permanent and general cease-fire which
will be verifiable by the international community.” The group made its
declaration in a statement posted on the Web site of the Basque
newspaper Gara. “This is ETA’s firm commitment towards a process to
achieve a lasting resolution and towards an end to the armed

In a brief televised statement, Mr. Rubalcaba said that the government
would continue to demand an unconditional surrender. “ETA continues to
pretend that the end of the violence has a price,” he said. “If you
ask me whether I am more relaxed today than yesterday, honestly I
would say yes. If you ask if this is the end, no. Is this what Spanish
society expected? Clearly no.” In September, the government rejected a
similar though less wide-ranging cease-fire declaration because ETA,
which the European Union and the United States consider a terrorist
organization, had not offered to hand over weapons nor had it
described the cease-fire as permanent.

But Monday’s statement did not mention any surrendering of weapons — a
key condition placed by the government. The group also said its
cease-fire would depend on the advancement of political negotiations
on Basque independence. ETA, a nationalist and separatist organization
formed in 1959, has killed more than 800 people since starting a
campaign in the late 1960s to establish an independent Basque homeland
in northern Spain and southwest France.

ETA called a cease-fire in 2006, which it broke off after the collapse
of negotiations with the government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.
Still, ETA has not killed on Spanish soil in over a year and has
instead found itself under increased pressure from political allies to
stop the bloodshed, as well as struggling to maintain any operational

The group has been considerably weakened by stronger cooperation
between Spanish and other police forces, particularly in France, with
over 30 arrests made last year alone. Last May, for instance, French
police arrested Mikel Kabikoitz Karrera Sarobe, the suspected military
leader of ETA, and his alleged second-in-command near the Spanish

Mr. Rubalcaba said that ETA’s latest announcement showed that “once
more they have not done what the political parties expected.” He
added: “We are facing an ETA with an unchanged arrogance, language and
script.” Monday’s cease-fire announcement, he said, was therefore “not
bad news, but not the news” the government had hoped for.

Spanish politicians reacted quickly. Marcelino Iglesias, a senior
politician from the ruling Socialist Party, called the announcement
“important news that needs to be confirmed with facts and without

But José Bono, the head of the Spanish Parliament, said on Spanish
television that the cease-fire offer was “more of the same.”

“To hear talk about political negotiations from people who have killed
so many politicians can only produce in me uneasiness and sadness,” he



 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com


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