EU declines peace talks bid by Basque seperatists
EU justice and home affairs commissioner Franco Frattini has rejected a call from outlawed political Basque group Batasuna to negotiate a peace agreement in the Basque country and has reiterated the EU's support for the Spanish government.
The Basque separatists urged Brussels on Wednesday (6 June) to step in and help re-establish the peace process with the Spanish government, after pro-independence terrorist group ETA announced an end of its 15-month ceasefire on Tuesday (5 June).
Batasuna's representative in Brussels, Gorka Elejabarrieta, said that the EU "could and should" help restore the peace process in the Basque country and therefore solve the conflict, writes ADNmundo.
Mr Elejabarrieta, who was speaking to journalists in Brussels, said that "the resolution of the Basque conflict should be a priority in the agenda of the EU," but added that Brussels policy has been so far to endorse "the interests of the Spanish state and not those of the Basque country and the EU itself."
It was this stance that Mr Frattini restated by saying that "we respect the initiatives of the Spanish government and we will keep working with them in order to defeat terrorism," according to El Correo Digital.
Spain's Supreme Court banned Batasuna in 2003 on grounds that it was part of ETA, leading to its members being barred from engaging in political activity. It remains legal in France.
ETA said it ended the ceasefire claiming "minimum conditions for continuing a process of negotiations do not exist" and blamed socialist prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for ruining the peace process by continuing to arrest and try ETA members and by barring some pro-independence candidates from Basque local elections last month.
Despite announcing the self-imposed "permanent cease-fire" in March last year, ETA detonated a car bomb at Madrid's international airport in December, destroying a five-story car park and killing two people, leading Mr Zapatero to end the peace negotiations.
The group – which is classed as a terrorist organisation by Madrid, Brussels and Washington - is accused of killing more than 800 people since 1968 in the fight for Basque independence from Spain.
[Source: Euobserver, Brussels, 07Jun07]
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