Organizers: Basque event next month to bring lasting peace

Organizers: Basque event next month to bring lasting peace
The Associated Press

BAYONNE, France (AP) — Basque civil society groups and international observers said that there will be an event next month in southern France that will be key to ending the Basque conflict.

Organizers had said that “important elements for the process of demobilization” of ETA would be announced at their news conference in Bayonne, but they refrained from mentioning the Basque separatist militant group on Monday.

Observer Raymond Kendall, former Interpol general secretary, said the May 4 meeting in the French town Cambo-les-Bains near the Spanish border will aim “to lay a new stone on the path of a just and lasting peace.”

“We believe this event will be primordial in advancing the definitive peace process,” Kendall said.

Basque media reported last week that ETA would announce that it was disbanding the first weekend in May.

That was followed by ETA taking the unprecedented step of apologizing for some— although not all— of the more than 800 killings it perpetrated over four decades as part of its struggle for independence for the Basque regions of Spain and France.

ETA, which the Spanish government considers a terrorist organization, gave up its armed campaign in 2011 and got rid of its arsenal one year ago. Its dissolution will mark the end of one of Europe’s last violent nationalist conflicts.

Police put hundreds of ETA members behind bars before it stopped killing.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said earlier Monday that ETA’s crimes wouldn’t go unpunished just because they disband.

“ETA must disappear because that is the only option remaining after being defeated by the police,” Rajoy told newspaper Ultima Hora Mallorca. “And in no case will their crimes disappear, nor the responsibility for having committed them.”