The current economic situation in Spain has been dominating the headlines for many months now, but recently more social problems have also been at the forefront of the government’s minds. The situation regarding the fight for independence by the Spanish regions; Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country, is not a modern one. It has been testing Spanish unity for decades, and with the recent elections in Catalonia sparking up the debate once more, it was only to be expected that the Basque terrorist group ETA would rear their ugly heads.
ETA or Euskadi Ta Askatasuna in the Basque language of Euskara, have been fighting for the independence of the Basque Country from Spain for over 45 years. They are the leading organisation within the Basque National Liberation Movement, and their goal for both political and economic independence from Spain has resulted in a total of 829 deaths, including over 340 innocent civilians, through a variety of bombings, kidnappings and shootings on both French and Spanish soil. This has led them to be recognised as a terrorist group by both the EU and the USA, and the actions taken by the French and Spanish Government to pacify the attacks have been extensive. However, despite a series of broken ceasefire promises in the past, ETA declared a cessation of armed attacks on the 20th October 2011, to which they have remained faithful, and since then they have been silent.
However, the day preceding the Catalan elections last week, the terrorist group sent a statement to the Spanish Government indicating their desire to enter talks with both Spain and France discussing complete disbandment. ETA went on to emphasis that they are willing to disarm in an exchange for the transfer of ETA prisoners to prisons that are nearer to their families. Yet, although many Spaniards have been waiting anxiously for this proposal from ETA, the Spanish government rejected the offer for talks with the group.
“They know that we have not negotiated nor will we negotiate in any way with the terrorist organisation.”Jorge Fernández DíazInterior Minister of Spain
The Spanish Government, along with the support of the French government, demand for unconditional dissolution and refuse to adhere to any of ETA’s requests. Many feel that this U-turn from ETA is due to the weakening of the organisation as a whole, with the arrest of many principle members last October leaving large gaps in their leadership hierarchy.
It is yet to be seen how ETA will respond to this rejection of negotiations by the Government and we can only hope that it does not lead to more drastic, vengeful actions that could rupture the current peace and bring ETA into the forefront of terrorism once more.