The Basque Friendship Group welcomes the announcement of ETA disarmament and calls for the Spanish and French governments to allow the process to succeed

The Basque Friendship Group welcomes the announcement made public last week on the process of disarmament of ETA, foreseen by 8th April, in a press conference held in Brussels, where Irish MEP Martina Anderson, Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker, Galician MEP Lidia Senra and Catalan MEP Josep-Maria Terricabras took part.

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson stated: “We welcome the recent news from Basque civil society groups involved in developing a process of disarmament in the Basque Country that ETA has entrusted civil society with the responsibility of overseeing its arsenal’s disarmament, and that on the afternoon of the 8th April, ETA will be fully disarmed”.

Anderson also said that “this news has been accepted as genuine by main stakeholders in the Basque Country and Basque Institutions, both north and south, and civil society has shown its support for the process, which would include international verification to ensure that weapons are put beyond use”.

The main stakeholders in the Basque Country – the Sinn Féin MEP added – Basque Autonomous Government, Autonomous Government of Navarre and most of the political parties and social organisations have recognised the importance of this initiative and shown their support. This process involves leadership of Basque civil society, international verification and support of Basque institutions and parties”.

As a member of the Basque Friendship Group, Anderson considered “the announcement to be very good news, building on the statement made in 2011, two days after the Aiete peace conference, that ended the armed campaign. This new step shows the commitment of Basque pro-independence forces and Basque civil society and we want to recognise the work that has gone into making this possible”.

The N-VA Flemish MEP Mark Demesmaeker stated: “We sincerely hope that Spanish Government and French Government will grasp this opportunity and not derail it, as in previous occasions. This new process has the support of majority of Basque society and institutions, and we therefore request the Spanish Government, and appeal especially to French Government – since where most arms dumps are supposed to be – to allow the disarmament process to take place.

Demesmaeker also underlined that “this announcement is also good news for EU security, peace and democracy, and we therefore call upon the institutions of the European Union to support this process in whatever way possible”.

With that purpose, the Flemish MEP announced that “we have requested a formal meeting with the French Ambassador and Permanent Representative in the EU, Mr. Nicolas Suran, and with the Spanish Ambassador and Permanent Representative in the EU, Mr. Pablo García-Berdoy, in order to make known our position on the disarmament process and its importance, and to express our commitment to support any such disarmament process to its completion, as a vital step towards a complete and lasting peace in the Basque Country”.