February 24, 2018

Eta: Basque separatists begin weapons handover

68At a ceremony in the southern French city of Bayonne, an inventory of weapons, and their locations, was passed to the judicial authorities.
Eta killed more than 800 people and wounded thousands in more than 40 years of violence.
It declared a ceasefire in 2011 but did not disarm.
What is Eta?
The group was set up more than 50 years ago in the era of Spanish dictator General Franco.
Its goal was to create an independent Basque state out of territory in south-west France and northern Spain.
Its first known killing was in 1968, when a secret police chief was shot dead in the Basque city of San Sebastian.
France and Spain refuse to negotiate with Eta, which is on the EU blacklist of terrorist organisations.
That will not be straightforward. The IVC was set up in 2011 to monitor Eta’s progress towards disarmament.
However, it is not formally recognised by the French and Spanish governments.
In 2014, it reported that Eta had taken some of its weapons out of action, but the Spanish government dismissed the move as “theatrical”.
The IVC would check the arms caches later on Saturday, a Basque intermediary, Txetx Etcheverry, told the French news agency AFP.
French police are on standby to take possession of the weapons, AFP reported.
Spanish government spokesman Inigo Mendez de Vigo demanded that Eta not only disarm, but also clarify who carried out past attacks.
How did we get here?
Slowly, and with many false starts.
Eta first declared a ceasefire in 1998, the year after some of its militants murdered a young Spanish councillor, Miguel Angel Blanco.
However, that came to an end in 1999, and the group resumed its campaign of violence.
In 2006, Eta made another announcement of a ceasefire, but that, too, proved to be illusory. In December of that year, it bombed an airport car park in Madrid, killing two people.
Four years later, in 2010, Eta announced it would not carry out further attacks and in January 2011, it declared a permanent and “internationally verifiable” ceasefire but refused to disarm.
In recent years, police in France and Spain have put Eta under severe pressure, arresting hundreds of militants, including leadership figures, and seizing many of its weapons.
Eta’s political wing, Herri Batasuna, was banned by the Spanish government, which argued that the two groups were inextricably linked.
‘A moment we have been waiting for’ – the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Bayonne
A simple ceremony in a city hall ended Eta’s bloody campaign for independence. In an elegant high-ceilinged room, five people sat around a plain square table as early-morning light filtered through heavy drapes.
Bayonne Mayor Jean-Rene Etchegaray, welcomed them to a “moment we have all been waiting for”. After a few short speeches, French Basque environmentalist Txetx Etcheverry approached the table with a bulky black file, with a dozen blue folders. From where I sat, I could see it included photographs as well as text.
The dossier was handed to international witnesses including Italian Archbishop Matteo Zuppi and the Reverend Harold Good, who played a role in the Northern Ireland peace process. French security forces discreetly secured the area and the Spanish government raised no objections to the ceremony going ahead.

Related posts