4 August 2014 Edition
ETA shuts down its structures
Release of Arnaldo Otegi, prisoner moves and talks urged
The ETA statement came just days after meetings with key players in the Basque Country by Martin McGuinness and Jonathan Powell
Martin McGuinness and Britain’s chief negotiator in Irish Peace Process back from Basque Country
MARTIN McGUINNESS has told An Phoblacht that ETA’s announcement dismantling its logistical and operational structures “to achieve our legitimate political goals through a political and democratic struggle” should be grasped by Spain, France and the EU as a golden opportunity to consolidate the Basque peace process.
“This is of huge significance,” Martin McGuinness told An Phoblacht Editor John Hedges. “It is a courageous move by ETA and it deserves to be responded to in a positive way.”
The Sinn Féin joint First Minister in the North urged the Spanish Government to build on the ETA initiative and bolster the peace process by releasing SORTU Secretary General Arnaldo Otegi, moving Basque political prisoners closer to home pending further progress, and commencing “inclusive negotiations”, as happened in the Irish Peace Process.
• Martin McGuinness
The ETA statement came on Sunday 20 July, less than a week after two full days of “wall to wall meetings” with political parties in the Basque Country, key players in the region, “and by people supportive of ETA” by Martin McGuinness and Jonathan Powell, British former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Chief of Staff and chief negotiator in the Irish Peace Process.
ETA also says in its historic statement: “We have shown our willingness to agree other steps in a resolution dialogue.”
It calls for “consequences of the conflict” to be overcome, including “the homecoming of prisoners and refugees, including members of ETA nowadays underground; ETA’s agreed and ordered disarmament; demilitarisation of the Basque Country due to the shifting in the characteristics of the conflict and as a basis for democratic normality”.
ETA notes that the organisation’s first step had been “the verifiable sealing of weaponry announced in March”, declaring “our absolute willingness to provide a coherent, feasible and complete solution to the issue of weapons”.
The ETA statement says there must be “a real democratic transition in the Basque Country” built on three pillars:
“Overcoming all the consequences of the confrontation; guarantee of civil and political rights; [and] agreement to build a democratic base so that the implementation of any political project, including independence, is in the hands of the citizens’ voice and decision.”
• Arnaldo Otegi with Gerry Adams
ETA believes the organisations in the Abertzale Left and the popular movement are the most effective vehicles “to overcome the challenges faced by the liberation process in the current political phase”.
ETA urges its activists and supporters to put their “determination at the service of the new challenges for the liberation movement, to organise themselves in the Abertzale Left and commit themselves in different initiatives and struggles”.
Speaking to An Phoblacht back in Derry, Martin McGuinness said that his visit was the latest in a series by many Sinn Féin leaders over the years. “Effectively, this was a follow-up to Gerry Adams’s visit early this year.”
He said the fact that the British Government’s chief negotiator in the Irish Peace Process has been involved in the talks with him should not be lost on a “less than enthusiastic” government in Madrid, and France and the EU.
He said the way is now open for an international decommissioning body to be set up to deal with the whole issue of weapons and for moves on prisoners. “As we saw in Ireland, the prisoners played a major role in progressing the Irish Peace Process. A genuine peace process, with inclusive and meaningful dialogue, would benefit all the people affected by the conflict.”