Basque separatist group announces dissolution in statement





Madrid - Basque separatist group ETA announced its dissolution on Thursday in a statement released through Spanish media, but the response from Spain and France was cautious at best.

The brief statement said that the group has "totally dismantled all its structures" and "concludes all its political activity."



 
"The former ETA members will continue with the struggle for a reunified, independent, socialist, Basque-speaking and non-patriarchal Basque Country in other areas, each where it deems it most appropriate, with the responsibility and honesty of always."
The group, which had sent a letter using similar language to several Basque organizations on Wednesday, is still expected to release a video statement of its dissolution later Thursday.
The last armed insurgent group in Western Europe, ETA has demanded for decades the creation of an independent state formed by the northern Basque province of Spain, as well as the neighbouring province of Navarra and parts of southern France.
A conference is due to take place in the French locality of Cambo-les-Bains on Friday at which ETA is expected to formally announce its dissolution. In 2011, it had already announced an end to its armed struggle for an independent state.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is unimpressed by the ETA's announcment that it is dissolving, describing the move by the Basque separatist militia as "propaganda" and "empty talk." "ETA was forced by the action of the state and the strength of Spanish democracy," Rajoy said in comments carried by Spanish media.
Speaking at an opening for an anti-terrorism training facility in Logrono in northern Spain, Rajoy added that there would be "no reward" for ETA's disbandment and that there would be no impunity for the insurgents. However, the group warns that the Basque region's conflict with Spain and France will continue.
Spain and France claimed the announcement as a victory for their own security and counterterrorism efforts, with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy striking a particularly hostile tone as he described ETA's dissolution as "propaganda" and "empty talk."
"ETA was forced by the action of the state and the strength of Spanish democracy," Rajoy said in comments carried by Spanish media.
Speaking at an opening for an anti-terrorism training facility in Logrono in northern Spain, he added that there would be "no reward" for ETA's disbandment and that there would be no impunity for the insurgents.
"If confirmed, this announcement will mark a major success for the exemplary Franco-Spanish cooperation in the fight against terrorism, which bears witness to our excellent bilateral relations," the French Foreign Ministry said.
The ministry expressed its sympathies to victims of ETA and their families.
"We now await the concrete implementation of its dissolution announcement, in particular the handing over of its remaining weapons," the ministry said.
ETA, an acronym for "Euskadi ta Askatasuna" (Basque Homeland and Liberty), was formed on July 31, 1959, during the dictatorship of Francisco Franco in Spain.
According to the Spanish Interior Ministry, ETA killed 864 people and carried out almost 300 unsolved crimes and about 100 kidnappings over half a century of armed activities.
Last month ETA apologized to its victims.
The United States and European Union both consider the group to be a terrorist organization.

 


Thursday, May 3rd 2018
(dpa)
           


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