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Will Eta's ceasefire be permanent?

13:36 UK time, Monday, 10 January 2011

The Basque separatist group Eta has announced a permanent ceasefire in its fight for independence from Spain. How significant is this announcement?

In a video statement sent to the media, the group said the truce would be "internationally verifiable". But Spain's Interior Minister, Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba, said that, again, ETA had failed to declare a definitive and irreversible end to violence.

Eta's campaign for independence for the Basque region has cost more than 800 lives since 1968 but it called a halt to armed attacks last year.

Is this announcement going to be different from previous ones? What impact will it have? Will it mean an end to the violence?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.


  • Comment number 1.

    I have my doubts. Eta say they are commited to a ceasefire which would be "internationally verifiable" and will continue its struggle for a democratic situation in the Basque country. Yet there is no offer to disarm. Only time will tell but as i say, i have my doubts.

  • Comment number 2.

    I also have my doubts whether this is the end to violence. Eta, as a body, may become peaceful so the cause has a recognised name at the political table but this will not stop a splinter movement popping up to add a bit of "stick" to the "carrot. There is also the matter of stopping all criminal activities not just terrorist, this part will be harder for Eta management to control.

  • Comment number 3.

    I am very much scared of eta. They have a very scary picture.

  • Comment number 4.

    Head says no, never believe anyone who believes that blowing people to bits is a valid lever.

    Heart says no. I'd hope it would if we didn't have the example of Northern Ireland. The mainstream group agreed to dialogue, but there remained a hard core of murdering scum who only undersrand the sword. The same will happen in Northern Spain.

    So is the violence over?

    Doubt it very much.

  • Comment number 5.

    Words are cheap and commitments are harder to keep, unless ETA gives the names of all its members and they jointly allow the Government inspectors into their mysterious ways of life. Humans just do not give money, power and intimidation peacefully, so everyone would like to know the price for this promised PEACE.

  • Comment number 6.

    Never say never.

    The problems in Ireland are beginning to resuface after a 9 years hiatus.

  • Comment number 7.

    Permanent? Like the one with the mates in the IRA? Don't make me laugh! These, I hesitate to use the word "people", think the only way to interact with the rest of humanity - is to kill them!

  • Comment number 8.

    One lives in hope, one prays that it will be so.

    But however they dress up, ETA are politicians. They'll do whatever they think it will take to achieve their goals. They've ditched terrorism because they are not getting any support that way, not because they've suddenly realised that it's wrong.

  • Comment number 9.

    We in Britain and Ireland hardly have anything to contribute to the debate. Our version of 'peace' in the Northern counties of Ireland, as stipulated in the Good Friday Agreement, involves sidelining moderates and talking exclusively to nutcases. Not to mention the mainstream media flat out ignoring the low-level violence which is still on the rise. Perhaps we can at least offer sympathy for the victims of ETA's obscenities, but I do hope that the people of the Basque country aren't duped into following our ill-advised strategies.

    On another note, as with the UVF and IRA murderers, the ETA murderers are evidently too cowardly to show their faces. Pathetic.

    'There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.' — Howard Zinn

  • Comment number 10.

    The only way to solve the problem is for the Spanish government to have a discourse with ETA, in the same way that the Good Friday Agreement came about to settle the Northern Ireland problem. Whether Spain likes it or not, these people have a grievance which needs to be addressed.

  • Comment number 11.

    Events in Ireland have shown that at the core of terrorist organisations are some people who simply cannot move away from violence and criminality. Without resorting to killing and intimidation their lives have no purpose.

  • Comment number 12.

    ETA have done this before, in 2006. It didnt stop them stealing weapons and finished with the Madrid Airport bombing. It's difficult to believe this time will be any different to the past. I would like to think that this time is different but I have my doubts.

  • Comment number 13.

    "Is this announcement going to be different from previous ones? What impact will it have? Will it mean an end to the violence? "

    What could be different this time is the overall condition of the Basque Seperatists themselves. There have been many arrests by joint Spanish & French counter-terrorist forces over the last two years and it just might be that this has taken a large enough toll on their operational capability, that they can't do as many evil things as they have in the past. We must all hope that whatever the reasons that an end to this terror is in sight.

  • Comment number 14.

    Will Eta's ceasefire be permanent? Not if the Spanish Government has its way!

  • Comment number 15.

    I doubt it.

    The hardcore of the group will simply splinter like the Real from Provo IRA did.

    Guess some terrorist cannot admit defeat.

  • Comment number 16.

    ...And when the Spanish authourities continue trying to bring these criminals to trial for atrocities committed during their reign of terror. They will cry foul and the next "bang" will signal an end to it, are they seeking an amnesty... Are you kidding, this is about consolidation, an imminent change of leadership and...don`t hold your breath.

  • Comment number 17.

    I don't understand why a serious media like BBC uses the expression of basque separatist group for ETA. They are a terrorist group, and they must be named like a terrorist group. They have caused a lot of pain to too families and people. They deserve that ETA can be known how it really is, a terrorist group.

  • Comment number 18.

    Will Eta's ceasefire be permanent?

    Let me get my Tarot cards out and I will come back to you later with an answer.

  • Comment number 19.

    9. At 2:59pm on 10 Jan 2011, Snarkhunter wrote:
    On another note, as with the UVF and IRA murderers, the ETA murderers are evidently too cowardly to show their faces. Pathetic.
    'There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.' — Howard Zinn
    They would be arrested and imprisoned if they show their faces, they are labelled terrorists! There are over 700 members already imprisoned. Like with NI nationalism there are many Basque Nationalist organisations, including Batasuna, which is banned by the Spanish Supreme Court, which some believe is the political wing of ETA obviously denied by ETA. The recent arrests of some nationalist leadership figures over the past few years may suggest that ETA is actually politically weak and hence this move.
    Like NI these groups rename and reinvent themselves, so the cause is never interrupted, even when it may seem calmer, like NI the terrorist attacks have never gone away. Ironically we accept flags of countries and condemn groups within them who want, so called, independence! Nationalism on all levels is wrong, it is disguised and promoted as culture etc, but in reality it is about land/property ownership by an elite and nothing else, as I’m sure Zinn would agree!
    “On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.
    Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?
    These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.” Put Away the Flags by Howard Zinn.

  • Comment number 20.

    What makes this declaration of an ETA ceasefire any different from the previous? Spain is in econmic trouble; ETA violence could hardly be said to help the situation.
    But not so long ago, ETA declared a halt to “offensive armed actions”. The latest declaration would appear therefore to be an upgrade to “verifiable” and “permanent”. It's just that ETA has such a long history of broken promises.
    Spain’s PM, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero 4 years ago accepted ETA's word. One day afterwards, ETA bombed Madrid’s Barajas Airport killing 2 people and bringing down a multi-storey car-park.
    On the other hand, since October José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's minority administration has been propped up by 6 deputies of the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV). Relations between PM Zapatero and Iñigo Urkullu, the PNV leader, have never been so close.
    PM Zapatero & Mr Urkulluor believe that the time has come for ETA to give up the violence; however, the People’s Party (PP), had opposed talks between Mr Zapatero’s Government and ETA. This time PP is remaining in the background, probably because The Government’s tough stance towards ETA violence is now closer to their own.
    Also PP leader, Antonio Basagoiti is a moderate person.
    Mariano Rajoy, the PP’s overall leader, may be thinking that peace would be good to inherit should he lead the PP back to power next year.
    ETA's move towards peace may have come from internal division. e.g. Leaders of Batasuna, ETA’s banned front party, mostly believe terrorism is history. Batasuna is also anxious to return to the political forum where it represents @ 10% of Basque voters. Municipal elections are due in May. I expect ETA to abandon violence at least till then, most likely longer if they receive enough votes.

  • Comment number 21.

    The announcement is as good as the last one - ZIP. It is a very violent, unreliable group.

  • Comment number 22.

    ETA lost credibility years ago. They have had more "permanent ceasefires" than Frank Sinatra had comebacks.

  • Comment number 23.

    ETA's 'ceasefire' will be just as permanent as the Republican/Sinn Fein/IRA/Provos/Real IRA/Continuity IRA 'ceasefire'.

    As long as the madmen have a bullet or a bomb, they will - sooner or later - use it.

  • Comment number 24.

    This is a strange situation because the Basque are a distinct and unique ancient race with characteristics which show they are adapted to face extreme cold.They are also physically stronger than others.
    They also have lots of customs of their own.
    Perhaps this gives them the right to have a separate state but I don't think they will achieve this by violence.

  • Comment number 25.

    Will Eta's ceasefire be permanent?

    What is permanent, NOTHING.

    Not human life, not the sky, not the sun, not our solar system, hence ETA itself will not be permanent let alone any ceasefire, hence they should concentrate on whats really important in life and that is life itself and its tempory imposition on this rock of ours that we call Earth.

  • Comment number 26.

    Does ETA realy matter that much, especially with the growth of other NUTTERS in the world who would also murder inncocent people, men, women, children, pregnant women, whoever, for whatever pretentious selfish belief they have.

  • Comment number 27.

    First of all, I´d like to say that calling a terrorist group just by "separatist" group is insulting to the spanish population and the 857 dead people killed by their hands, and second, that´s exactly what they want by sending to the international press this announcement from the diary that supports them, showing nothing but what they are interested into. They do this only so they can be on the next elections, for it is now forbidden as they don´t renounce violence (law was changed precisely for that) but they have no intention of such a ceasefire, as we could see it on the last arrest not so long ago where some info was confiscated about their next objectives and, permanent? No way! And now they want this announcement to be commented internationaly just to try if Spain will have some press in order to accept their conditions...They are nothing but murderers and the only way to finish with this is for they to renounce violence and serve their sentences.

  • Comment number 28.

    How can you Freedomknight say that Basque is a distinct and unique ancient race? Are you kidding when you say they have characteristics which show they are adapted to face extreme cold? physically stronger than others? is to have a costum of their own a reason to have a separate state? just in case you didn´t know it Basque country isn´t such a cold place so a different race is made for a better adaptation to the weather and in Spain, every autonomous region (17 and the cities of Melilla and Ceuta) has a different costum and dance but our common history from thousands years makes the feeling of a country, though for some people may not be the same and it must be respected but it is never a reason to kill innocent people.

  • Comment number 29.

    Doubtfully. Extremism is required by Fringe movements for recruitment.

    Who else would pay their bill?

  • Comment number 30.

    Of course not, a truce is a pause not an end. Humans find very few things they can agree on unanimously, therefore there will always be some issues that can be used to initiate violence.

  • Comment number 31.

    To all those Brits and other foreigners who jumped with such glee on the Tucson shooting with its tragic consequences, and gloried in rubbing our 'yank' noses in it, you people don't seem to be doing so very well do you?? Nearly every country in the EU has its terrorists, its political murders, its bands of rent a mob rioters, its drug shootings, stabbings and other mayhem...really makes me wonder if it's worthwhile hanging on to my EU passport....although one is loath to forego any option these days.

  • Comment number 32.

    It depends on how fortified is Eta's internal solidarity. We did see instances in Middle East where the Palestinian leader declared a truce and rebel members launched unprovoked strikes the next day.

    After all, in our civilized world, violence alone cannot turn things around. Perhaps this group resorts to other strategies, e.g. civil disobedience.

  • Comment number 33.

    Time will tell, but we have to work on the basis that ETA´s statements are honest.

  • Comment number 34.

    They never have done so in the past, they are still armed and dangerous.

  • Comment number 35.

    Oh I do hope so ,this planet has enough to worry about without all the wars and hatred its time to stop and look at what we are doing .

  • Comment number 36.

    This dispute has been going on for half a century or more and there isnt any agreement in sight yet but how long can any argument continue?.Terrorist bombs,shootings and countless numbers of people killed has achieved nothing but more grief and hatred so now is the time to knock heads together,stop this nonsense,get round a big table and sort it out.

  • Comment number 37.

    #6 chezza

    I have to agree the word 'never' is child speak for 'maybe', behaviour copied by many immature official and unofficial politicians. Like most power struggles there must be dialogue and compromise if a solution is to be identified, but neither side will forget what the other did to them, real or imagined. Just read the example of unwarranted venom at #31.

    It seems no one has a disagreement heard these days unless it is expressed in complete torpor. No wonder people get angry and frustrated with each other. "Brothers always choose to fight to prove how much they love each other".

  • Comment number 38.

    As in other "splinter groups" it's only a matter of time before another charismatic leader will emerge, and thus re-ignite the flame among his or her followers - that's when it gets so sadly dangerous. And all this in the name of another lost cause...

  • Comment number 39.

    Will Eta's ceasefire be permanent?

    Not being a member of Eta, I really don't know, but how long will it take for the real Eta to rise to the fore? I wouldn't pretend to understand the the issues in Spain but if their politicians are shysters like Bliar I wouldn't hold my breath while waiting for peace.

  • Comment number 40.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 41.

    Aty the moment no, as the Spanish government appears not to want a cease fire. Why don't they welcome a cease fire and ask ETA to meet with them to aggree the practicalities.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nah. ETA love to murder people.

  • Comment number 43.

    A terrorist group ETA announces a ceasefire. That is like a viper announcing that it will no longer eat frogs. After all the crimes that ETA has committed do they by their offer expect unconditional anmesty from prosecution for themselves? A ruse smells like a ruse. Soon no doubt another bomb will go off somewhere in Spain. ETA is a creature of habit and will revert to its true form. To kill snake you have to cut off its head.

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    7. At 2:41pm on 10 Jan 2011, W Fletcher wrote:
    Permanent? Like the one with the mates in the IRA? Don't make me laugh! These, I hesitate to use the word "people", think the only way to interact with the rest of humanity - is to kill them!


    The IRA were a legitimate army, as are ETA. They are just portrayed as 'terrorists' bu the mainstream media.

    Sometimes the only way to get justice is armed struggle.

  • Comment number 46.

    40. At 12:30pm on 11 Jan 2011, Willo wrote:
    Terrorist organisations are realising, at last, that indiscriminate violence is counter-productive and will never bring results.

    The very last thing any government will do is give in to terrorism. Any concession would only invite more violence, either from the same group looking for more or from different groups seeking to achieve their own goals.

    This message has got through to the IRA and now ETA. Let's hope the penny soon drops with Al Qaeda too!


    Correct me if Im wrong but Gerry Adams is MP for West Belfast with over 70% of the vote. How does this demonstrate that violence gets no results???

    Its only because the IRA went to war with us that they managed to change ANYTHING at all, and have got to the position they are in now.

    This is about PERCEPTION. The media portray armies like ETA and the IRA as terrorists, and people like you believe this. Whereas they are no different to our own army (except not as well equipped).

    The French Resistance in WW2 are painted as heroes because they were on our side.... but they are indistinguishable from the IRA or ETA.

    You need to open your eyes to how you are being manipulated by the media.

  • Comment number 47.

    #31 LALondoner
    As a Brit living in the Basque country I certainly didn't shout with glee at the events of Tucson the other day. They were awful, I do note, however that the event took place in Arizona, a state with some of the least stringent gun control laws in the USA. A Glock such as used in that shooting is purely and simply a killing machine, it's not a target pistol it's designed and built to kill people. That being the case why was one sold to a young man with what looks to be some pretty severe mental problems? The phrase 'guns don't kill people' so frequently used by the NRA is a very unpleasant attempt to twist the facts. Guns might not kill people but they certainly make it very easy to kill people.

    I'm not naive, I don't think that you can have gun control in the USA as you have in Britain the US is too big and there a too many guns in circulation. The fact remains that the US murder rate is over 4 times higher than that in the major European countries and that the US people show little or no sign of getting to grips with that. Consider that ETA have murdered 800 plus people since the 1950's. How many people have been shot to death in the USA in that period? Tens of thousands for certain.

    I also have some issues with the so called 'murders' committed by ETA in the years up to 1970, most of those were members of Franco's security forces and as such a pretty unpleasant group of people who were in the business of murdering the innocent and brutalising any opposition to Franco's rule. Let's not forget that the US and Britain let Franco rule after WW11 rather than tell him to step down. He was after all another Fascist thug and had killed a large number of his own people but was allowed to remain in power because he was deemed to be 'anti-communist' as was Salazar in Portugal another Fascist thug who brutalised his own people.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    I have visited the Basque Country loads of times over the last 20 years. What I have found is the area has definitely changed for the better.

  • Comment number 50.

    Possibly not. ETA is not an elected government that can make decisions - it is run along the lines of the IRA - there may still be some who do not go along with this suggestion. How do you know you have got everyone on board?

    On a lesser scale now, but Northern Ireland still seems to be having problems.

  • Comment number 51.

    A difficult one to call, with no Spanish, a fortnight in Madrid and a small semi in the Potteries as my only sources of understanding.

  • Comment number 52.

    Why ask us? The people to ask are ETA themselves.

  • Comment number 53.

    To tell you the truth i trust the Spanish Government about as much as i trust the ETA. But at least the socialists have more desire for peace than the PP.
    I think the basques have a good argument for independance, BUT no through violence and they already have more power than any other reigon in Spain (i live in catalunya). Historically they have suffered terribly under the boot of Franco, which is the very reason that he ETA came into existence. ( perversely it is the victors of WW II that allowed franco to stay in power and therefor giving rise to the ETA)
    However...there will never be peace untill the spanish Government allow Basque political parties that can voice the views of these groups, to outlaw such parties robs the basques of a political voice, and therefor violence is the only way they can be heard.

  • Comment number 54.

    Eta's declaration of a permanent ceasefire can be respected and trusted. Until the next time, that is.

  • Comment number 55.

    In ETA's case the government has the upper hand and they will not receive the concessions given to the IRA.

    But I think they have finally, after 40 long years, realized that they are getting nowhere with the bullet and the bomb.

    They are a throwback to a different time, and everyone else has moved on.
    It's time for them to move on as well.

  • Comment number 56.

    25. At 11:29pm on 10 Jan 2011, MrWonderfulReality wrote:
    Not human life, not the sky, not the sun, not our solar system, hence ETA itself will not be permanent let alone any ceasefire, hence they should concentrate on whats really important in life and that is life itself and its tempory imposition on this rock of ours that we call Earth.

    -That's what we should all concentrate on, but religion and politics keep getting in the way.

  • Comment number 57.

    Will pigs fly ??

  • Comment number 58.

    Willo wrote:
    Terrorist organisations are realising, at last, that indiscriminate violence is counter-productive and will never bring results.

    Other than the creation of an independent United States, Republic of Ireland & India...

    Sadly violence is the only thing that has consistently brought results to those seeking independence or freedom from oppressive or unrepresentative governments throughout history and things are no different today.

    As long as the group committing the acts of violence enjoy popular support amongst the general public they will most likely achieve the results they're after or at least force the other side into agreeing to a mutually beneficial compromise.

    I'm not supporting or condoning violent acts by any group or individual; this is just the way things are, have been and will always be. Violent resistance isn’t always successful but it has been far more successful than non-violent resistance because those with power do not give it up without a fight.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    I don't think they have the choice anymore. The critical event was a few years back when they carried out several operations in the French Basque country in an effort to expand their cause. This back-fired on ETA spectacularly. They hadn't bargained with the French government's determination to finish ETA for good. This forced ETA's hand into attempting to move into a more non-violent tactic. In the past they would carry out operations in Spain, then flee over the border to their hideouts in the French countryside. This is no longer possible.

    ETA are finished as a paramilitary organisation, despite all the bluster and military uniforms they may still where.

  • Comment number 61.

    They didn't ceased fire because they wanted to, they did t because they had to. Maybe they had no more funds, or they realized they can't make the Basque region independent - anyway, I think this will be permanent - in a few years, there will be no ETA anymore.

    I've never understood this extreme nationalism - why want to be independent when you already have a very large autonomy?

  • Comment number 62.

    ETA no longer has any justification for its existance they can not claim persecution of Basque nationalism by the Franco regime any more in a democratic Spain. ETA is selfimportant as all revolutionary organizations are led by radicalized personalities who need to perpetuate their own power and prestige, The "cause" is no longer about some fantastical notion of independence from an oppresive central govenrment in Madrid ( a premise no longer accepted even by the Basque majority) it is about personal egoism. Why does ETA announce a ceasefire rather than simply disbanding altogether? Because they have no intention of disappearing and will use any pretext when it suits them to renew armed conflict. If ETA were honest they would announce their permanent dissolution and let the Basque people decide for themselves their own realtionship to and within Spain. But the egoism of the fanatic will not go away they actually enjoy the attacks they stage again out of egoism since their actions do not serve the Basque nation. They have degenerated from one time quasi-legitimate revolutionaires to common criminals. The Madrid government should treat them as such.

  • Comment number 63.

    So ETA are finished? Hurray, an end to violence! Or possibly the Real ETA, the Provisional ETA and so on might disagree.

  • Comment number 64.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 65.

    Groups like ETA puzzle me greatly.

    All they are asking for is the right to pay their taxes to someone else in return for pretty much the same services. And they think this is worth killing for?

    People this unreasonable will never listen to reason. The violence will go on until they get what they want.

  • Comment number 66.

    I don't agree with violence, it doesn't solve problems, however I am wise enough to realise that if you mistreat a population or if they feel they are receiving injustice and cannot be heard, then you will get violence. Palestine is a prime example. In Northern Ireland, violence grew when an entire section of the community felt they were being treated unfairly and had no means of redress, and then began to subside as these injustices were addressed and people began to be heard.

    A ceasefire is not adequate, after all ETA will still have weapons, and can return to violence ifthey chose, therefore people will still fear them and you cannot have a fair and equal debate when one party fears the other. However, a ceasefire is a large step in the right direction and people should respond to that. In Northern Ireland, when people responded to the IRA ceasefire, the IRA were able to feel they had not been defeated of crushed, they they made the further move of getting rid of their weapons.

    A positive response to the offer by ETA may bring a further move from them.

  • Comment number 67.

    Let's wait and see.

  • Comment number 68.

    ref #59

    BBC moderator rule when you poit out that ETA is not interested in genocide of Spanish people, unlike other terrorist groups in the world post gets removed

  • Comment number 69.

    Until eta is given a chance we will never know. Ireland is a classic example it has worked but you will always have idiots who think violence is the only way to get their point over.


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