Spanish government rejects ETA “permanent” ceasefire” – update

The Basque comrades  of today look sleeker but still faintly ridculous and much the same as the boyos of yesteryear at home.  

The story has broken of a permanent ETA  ceasefire. As CS Lewis said of Christianity: if  false, it is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important.” What part did Sinn Fein play? I’m sure we will soon hear the claims.

 Adds. But  successive Spanish governments have always made different calculations from the British and Irish govermments in the past two decades, demanding disarmament and disbanding at once, along with ceasefire.  What can ETA  do now other than soldier or or lose face?

UTV reports  Gerry Adams’s  expected comment.

“Doubts were raised by some as to ETA’s commitment to this strategy and the opportunity for progress was not exploited fully.”

Mr Adams urged the Spanish government to now “grasp the opportunity for a lasting peace and a new beginning in the relationship between the Basque people and the Spanish state”.

Note the casual equation there between “the Basque people”  and ETA. Contrary to that assumption, for the first time in nearly 30 years, a non-nationalist Basque goverment was formed  in the provincial Assembly after the 2009 election, in an admitttedly tortuous process.    Moreover, most Basque nationalist parties are not linked to ETA.

From Sarah Rainsford, BBC Correspondent, Madrid

Eta’s statement has been met with widespread scepticism in Spain, and perhaps disappointment. An announcement had been rumoured for weeks.

But what Eta has actually said fails to convince most Spaniards that anything’s changed. Eta has called “permanent” ceasefires before. The last, in 2006, ended with a bomb at Madrid airport.

And whilst the latest declaration refers to a peace process, there’s no mention of disarming.

What is new is a proposal that the ceasefire is verified by international observers. Spain’s interior minister has already dismissed that, saying the only checking will be done by the country’s own security forces.

The government believes that a series of high-profile arrests has left Eta weaker, militarily, than ever before. It insists that the only statement it will accept from the separatist militants now is one that announces Eta’s definitive dissolution.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London