AN END TO BASQUE VIOLENCE

International mediators say ETA complying with definitive ceasefire pledge

Commission has held talks with representatives of the Basque government

All Basque political parties involved, with the exception of the Popular Party

Central government’s plans for the reinsertion in society of jailed ETA members welcomed

The International Verification Committee for ETA’s eschewal of the use of force on Friday confirmed the Basque terrorist group is complying with all of its commitments on abandoning arms, extortion and street violence, known as kale borroka.

The announcement was made by Ram Manikkalingham, the director of the Dialogue Advisory Group and a former Iraq peace negotiator, who acted as the group’s spokesman. The commission also includes Ray Kendall, the former secretary general of Interpol; Chris Maccabe, the former political director of the United Kingdom’s Northern Ireland office, who took part in the Good Friday peace process for the disbanding of the IRA; and Satish Nambiar, the former deputy chief of the Army Staff in India.

The commission held talks on Thursday and Friday with representatives of the Basque government and all the Basque political parties, with the exception of the Popular Party, which declined to take part, as well as members of labor unions, the business community, the Catholic Church and other social organizations.

The meetings were held bilaterally and a plenary session of all concerned took place on Friday morning. The commission also welcomed as a positive “first step” the central government’s plans for the reinsertion in society of ETA members currently in jail.

Interior Minister Jorge Fernández Díaz last week unveiled an initiative that could see increasing numbers of jailed ETA activists moved to prisons closer to, or in the Basque Country itself, as well as eventually being made eligible for early release.

This is the second set of meetings the commission has held with political and social representatives in the Basque Country. The first took place on January 25 and 26 when the commission agreed to convey to the ETA leadership that its members should cease to carry arms to avoid any incidents. Ram Manikkalingham told EL PAÍS that ETA had agreed not to use arms in cases where its members are arrested. He also said ETA expressed its willingness to open a process of dialogue with the government.

ETA, which has been responsible for 829 killings in Spain and France over 43 years, announced an end to its armed struggle for an independent Basque homeland in October of last year.

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