The Basque armed group ETA issued a statement Oct. 20 saying it is ending its 43-year armed campaign for independence and called on Spain and France to open talks. The group made the announcement to Basque daily Gara, which it regularly uses as a mouthpiece. ETA declared a permanent cease-fire in January, but up to now had not renounced armed struggle, a key demand of the Spanish government as a condition for talks.
“ETA has decided the definitive cease of its armed activity,” the statement read. “ETA calls upon the Spanish and French governments to open a process of a direct dialogue with the aim of addressing the resolution of the consequences of the conflict.” The statement made no mention of what it intended to do with its weapons, or if it was dissolving as a group.
The announcement came just three days after several international figures, including former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ireland’s Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, attended a conference on ETA in the Basque city of San Sebastian and called on the group to end its armed campaign. Calling the San Sebastian conference “an initiative of great political transcendence,” the statement concluded: “The agreed resolution brings together the ingredients for an integrated solution to the conflict and has the support of large sectors of Basque society and of the international community. In Euskal Herria [Basque Country], a new political age is opening. We face a historic opportunity to obtain a just and democratic solution to the age-old political conflict.” (EiTB, Oct. 20)