The Spanish Basque separatist group Eta has announced a decision "not to carry out offensive armed actions" in a video obtained by the BBC. Here are excerpts from their message:
Much has happened since, in the face of a strategy of denial and savage annihilation of the Basque country, Eta, organising the people and taking up arms, began the struggle for freedom.
Men and women who have given their best, their hopes and aspiration... ordinary citizens of different origins who have come together in the struggle.
In the face of the political reform of the Franco era, bent on the denial and annihilation of the Basque country, while some decided to enter into the framework of what they call "autonomism", Eta acted responsibly, first proposing a clean democratic break and then resisting attempts at assimilation and attacks.
Eta, and then the Basque left, have continued in the struggle. And the recompense has not been negligible. We are paying for this dearly: torture, prison, exile and also death.
But the prize for our difficult struggle has been the survival of the Basque country and for the door to a free future to be open.
We have shown that the autonomy framework is not the way to satisfy the wishes of the Basque people; it is nothing but a tool for bringing about the division and dismemberment of the Basque country.
And we have overcome one by one the measures taken to neutralise the struggle for freedom.
One way may be the continuation of new scenarios in the fight for Basque freedom. Therefore Eta has contributed to proposals for cooperative actions and resolutions of the conflict.
In recent times, the Basque country has been at an important crossroads. The political struggle has opened up new conditions.
The autonomy framework has been exhausted and the time has come for political change. The time has come to build a democratic framework for the Basque country respecting the wishes of the majority of the Basque people.
The Spanish state is aware that the Basque country is at a crossroads. That the Basque country can now take the road of independence.
They want to create conditions in which everything is blocked, to avoid political dialogue and to drown out the aspirations of the people in the state of exception.
Basque activists and Basque citizens need to respond to this responsibly and urgently.
It is time to take responsibility and take firm measures... in the articulation of the independence project, in the process of creating democratic conditions, to respond to repression and the firm defence of civil and political liberties.
Political change is possible. But there is no shortcut along the way.
The road to freedom must be walked a step at a time, perhaps flexibly, but the effort and struggle towards this goal is necessary.
Without confrontation, it is impossible to overcome denial and stubbornness. In that direction, Eta's hand is held out always.
Eta confirms its commitment to finding a democratic solution to the conflict. In its commitment to a democratic process to decide freely and democratically our future, through dialogue and negotiations, Eta is prepared today as yesterday to agree to the minimum democratic conditions necessary to put in motion a democratic process, if the Spanish government is willing.
We also convey this to the international community and call on it to respond to Eta's will and commitment in order to participate in the building of a durable, just and democratic resolution to the centuries-long political struggle.
Eta announces that it took the decision several months ago not to carry out offensive armed actions.
Eta wishes to reiterate to Basque political, social and trade union activists its call to act responsibly; that it is necessary to take firm steps as a people in order to reach a scenario for a democratic process; to establish a way to give the people a voice. Because the door to a real solution of the conflict will be opened when the rights of the Basque country are recognised and ratified.
To conclude: We call on all Basque citizens to continue in the struggle, each in their own field, with whatever degree of commitment they have, so that we can all cast down the wall of denial and make irreversible moves forward on the road to freedom.
Correction 8 September 2010: Due to a translation error, originally we quoted Eta saying it had decided "not to carry out armed actions"; in fact the term it used was "offensive armed actions"