Basque separatist group says ceasefire called four months ago will be permanent and verifiable by international observers
The armed Basque separatist group Eta has declared that a ceasefire it called four months ago is now “permanent and general” and open to verification by international observers.
In a statement released to the media the group said: “Eta has decided to declare a permanent and general ceasefire which will be verifiable by the international community.
“This is Eta’s firm commitment towards a process to achieve a lasting resolution and towards an end to the armed confrontation.”
The statement gives no details of how the ceasefire could be confirmed by observers.
The group calls for “dialogue and negotiation” which it says should end with some sort of vote among Basques. It also calls for a Basque right to independence to be formally recognised.
The solution to Basque independence “will come through the democratic process with dialogue and negotiation as its tools”, the statement says.
Three masked members of Eta, which is classified as a terrorist group by the European Union, have also recorded a video statement.
Rumours that Eta would take a step like this had been circulating for weeks.
There was no immediate comment from the government of socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. Madrid is sceptical about Eta’s intentions and has demanded that the group simply declare it has given up violence once and for all.
Observers warn that Eta has called permanent ceasefires before and has later called them off. A previous ceasefire in 2006 ended with the bombing of Madrid’s Barajas airport in which two people were killed.
More than 800 people have died in Eta violence since the group was founded in 1968, but it declared a halt to “offensive armed actions” in September.
The group was believed to have been severely weakened by hundreds of arrests in recent years.