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A screen capture from the ETA video, obtained by the BBC. BBC

Basque separatists ETA announce ceasefire and seek peace talks

The group says in a new video that it is committed to a ‘democratic solution’ on securing Basque independence.

THE BASQUE separatist group ETA has announced a ceasefire, saying it wishes to open formal diplomatic talks with the government of Spain on whether it can secure full independence for the Basque region.

In a video released to the BBC, the group said it decided months ago “to put in motion a democratic process” which would see it put its arms beyond use in the interim while it pursued more formal diplomacy.

“ETA confirms its commitment to finding a democratic solution to the conflict,” said a spokesman reading a pre-prepared statement, featured in the video.

“Eta is prepared today as yesterday to agree to the minimum democratic conditions necessary to put in motion a democratic process, if the Spanish government is willing.

“We call on all Basque citizens to continue in the struggle, each in their own field, with whatever degree of commitment they have, so that we can all cast down the wall of denial and make irreversible moves forward on the road to freedom.”

The Spanish government has yet to respond, but the group’s decision to pursue a ceasefire – whether temporary or not, though its nature is unclear – is a nod to the government’s previous insistence that discussions would only begin if ETA disarmed.

ETA’s has killed 820 over the course of its armed campaign since its foundation in 1959. It has declared ceasefires on two previous occasions, in 1988 for sixty days and in 2006 “permanently“.

The latter ceasefire was abandoned after nine months in protest at what the group felt was stonewalling by the Spanish government.

The announcement comes amid unusually tense debates on the future of the Basque Country, home to about three million people. ETA’s political wing, Batasuna, had appealed for a ceasefire on Friday.

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