The Conflict in the Basque Country Part 4

Third ceasefire

In September 2010, ETA again announced that all armed actions would be suspended, without any special conditions but also without any time frame. No murder had then been committed in ETA’s name in just over a year. The government was skeptical given that the previous two ceasefires had been broken. According to skeptics, ETA only wanted to buy time to pick up new power.

But in early 2011, ETA announced a permanent ceasefire. The government still dismissed the move as a tactic and Prime Minister Zapatero demanded that ETA be completely dissolved. Many assumed that one purpose of the ceasefire was to enable the banned Batasuna to get permission to run in local elections in May.

In March 2011, another military chief for ETA was reported to have been arrested – in which case the sixth in just under three years. Alejandro Zobaran Arriola was arrested in northern France along with three other suspected ETA members.

Election success in 2011 and “definitive” ceasefire

Earlier Batasuna members announced that they had formed a new party, Sortu , and that they completely renounced all violence. It was a historically important step and more and more people dared to believe that the armed conflict was over. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba said he believed ETA had reached its final ceasefire. At the same time, Rubalcaba said that Sortu was “obviously” a direct successor to Batasuna. In March 2011, the Supreme Court also decided by a vote of 9 to 7 to ban Sortu from participating in the local elections in May.

In April, a new separatist alliance, the left-wing Bildu , was formed by a couple of legal separatist parties and by independent candidates. But Bildu was also banned by the Supreme Court from standing in the election. According to the court, ETA and Batasuna used Bildu as a cover. Bildu’s leaders accused the judiciary of being a tool of the government in Madrid, and the court’s decision led to street protests in Basque cities. Bildu appealed the ban to the Constitutional Court, which a couple of weeks before the local elections in May gave the go-ahead for the Bildu candidates, who have distanced themselves from violence, to participate in the election.

The election was a surprising success for Bildu, which received 26 percent of the votes in the Basque Country and thus became larger than Batasuna had been in any election. The nationalist party PNV received more votes than Bildu, but it was Bildu who won the most seats in the Basque Country. Organizations for the victims of terrorism considered the separatists’ election success a victory for ETA, while Bildu’s own leaders saw it as the end of ETA. They believed that the Basques had chosen the political path to independence and that ETA would thus be a thing of the past.

In October 2011, ETA announced in a written statement that it would definitively cease its military activity, and in early 2012, ETA’s political branch Izquierda Abertzale apologized for the insensitivity shown to the pain caused by ETA’s terror to people. Around 830 lives had been claimed in ETA’s more than 40-year-old violence campaign.

Election success in 2012 and talk of ETA’s dissolution

In the spring of 2012, the Spanish government rejected a request from ETA for dialogue. The government instead called on the movement to dissolve itself. In May, ETA military leader Oroitz Gurruchaga Gogorza and his associates were arrested in a Spanish-French police operation in southwestern France.

Ahead of the regional elections in October 2012, separatist forces formed on the left  EH Bildu  (Euskal Herria, United Basque Country) (see  Political system  )

The election was a success for the Basque nationalists and separatists. PNV was the largest with 27 seats and EH Bildu  took 21 – together a clear majority among the 75 members of the regional parliament. After the election, PNV leader Iñigo Urkullu formed a regional government with the support of the Socialist Party.

In November, ETA declared its readiness to discuss the dissolution of its organization, on the condition that the ETA members detained in Spain be relocated to the Basque Country. The government of Madrid replied that it only accepted an unconditional dissolution of ETA.

ETA said it was prepared to discuss the dissolution of its organization, on the condition that the imprisoned ETA members be relocated to the Basque Country. The government of Madrid replied that it only accepted an unconditional dissolution of ETA.

In February 2014, international inspectors announced that the disarmament of ETA had begun and that some of its weapons had been “taken out of service”, but the disarmament was delayed until the spring of 2017. A year later, ETA apologized for the suffering organization, and in May In 2018, the separatist movement was completely dissolved, but it emphasized in a letter that the conflict “between the Basque Country and Spain and France is still not over. The Spanish government also made it clear that it would continue to investigate crimes committed by the “terrorist organization”.

The Conflict in the Basque Country Part 4