ETA declares cease-fire, but Spain critical
MADRID — The militant Basque separatist group ETA declared a permanent cease-fire yesterday in what it called a firm step toward ending its bloody decades-long independence fight, but Spain’s government quickly dismissed the announcement and demanded ETA disband outright.
Masked ETA members announced the cease-fire in a video distributed to Spanish media, and ETA’s statement also appeared on the website of the pro-independence Basque newspaper Gara, which often serves as an ETA mouthpiece.
But the statement made no mention of ETA dissolving or giving up its weapons, key demands from successive Spanish governments. And a previous cease-fire that ETA declared in 2006 and called permanent ended after only nine months.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said Spanish governments and mainstream Spanish political parties have said all they want to hear from ETA is that it is disarming and giving up.
ETA, Europe’s last major violent political militant group, declared a cease-fire in September but gave no details about how long it would last. The statement issued yesterday specified that the group now supports a “permanent and general cease-fire which will be verifiable by the international community.’’