Spain’s government has rejected calls by armed Basque separatists ETA to negotiate its disarmament and dissolution and instead demanded the group dissolve itself without conditions.
“The only statement we can expect and demand is for its unconditional dissolution,” Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz told reporters on Sunday.
“They know we have not negotiated and won’t negotiate at all with a terrorist organisation.”
ETA said in a statement published in Basque media on the weekend it wanted to enter talks with Spain and France to negotiate a definitive end to military operations.
The statement said the group would handover its arms if Spain moved hundreds of ETA prisoners to Basque country and that successful talks on these areas “would bring about a definitive end of the armed conflict”.
Hundreds of ETA prisoners are in jail across Spain. The group wants talks on having them moved to the Basque region in return for dismantling its military structure and turning in weapons.
Both Spain and France insist on the complete dismantling of ETA’s arsenal and its unconditional dissolution. The Spanish government has repeatedly ruled out talks with ETA over its prisoners.
The group has been significantly weakened in recent years, as many of its leaders have been arrested and arms caches seized – it’s last attack on Spanish soil was in August 2009.
ETA, blamed for 829 killings in more than four decades of fighting for a Basque homeland, announced last year an end to their struggle for independence but did not fully halt operations or turn over its weapons.
The United States and the European Union consider ETA a terrorist organisation.