Dissolution of Basque Eta

A ceremony marking the formal dissolution of Eta was held in the French-Basque town of Cambo-les-Bains on Friday. Several international mediators were present, but no official representatives of Spain's established parties attended the event. Spain's government needs to take an active role in seeking reconciliation, commentators stress.

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Le Temps (CH) /

Madrid must seek reconciliation

The central government must meet the Basques halfway, Le Temps argues:

“Spanish politics is dominated by a paradox. Faced with the Basque extremists, Madrid has long upheld the 'Catalonian model' - characterised by common sense, pragmatism and small, democratic steps. Today things look very different. Gripped by panic in view of the actions of the Catalan separatists, Mariano Rajoy's government is refusing to cede an inch to the most rebellious wing of the Basque separatists. With its eyes riveted on the next elections, the Madrid government will do anything to avoid looking weak. That's no doubt sensible from an electoral point of view. But it's disastrous in terms of reconciliation. Eta is dead, and about time, too. But now it is essential to avoid providing any pretexts for its resurrection.”

eldiario.es (ES) /

State terrorism made Eta strong

The Spanish government made a fatal mistake in deploying the Gal death squads against Eta in the 1980s, writes editor-in-chief Ignacio Escolar in eldiario.es:

“The IRA gave up its weapons in 2005. The Italian Red Brigades renounced killing in 2003, the German Red Army Faction in 1992. Eta was the last to disappear and one wonders why Spain was the last country in western Europe to stop this kind of terrorism. The answer probably has to do with the weakness of Spanish democracy and the mistakes that were made in the fight against Eta. The most fundamental error: the Gal, the torture, the state terrorism. ... It was a mistake that for decades fuelled the social support which nourished this fanaticism and justified this dirty war with a fundamental premise: that it was a war and therefore killing was legitimate.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Peace in the Basque Country a long-term mission

The dissolution of Eta won't be enough to secure social peace in the Basque Country, the Tages-Anzeiger warns:

“The deep rifts within Basque society and also between a considerable proportion of the Basques and a great majority of the Spaniards must be healed. This will be a task for generations to come. Harsh anti-terror laws that curtail the citizens' rights still apply for the region. For example, the demand for programmes to reintegrate former Eta fighters into society continues to be a criminal offence, namely 'supporting terrorism'. Even the international mediation group has in theory violated these laws.”

El Periódico de Catalunya (ES) /

A political victory too

The cross-party continuity in the peace negotiations contributed to Eta's dissolution, editor-in-chief Enric Hernàndez writes approvingly in El Periódico de Catalunya:

“Eta has been defeated. Democracy and law have triumphed against the madness. But it would be a mistake to claim that the activities of the police and judiciary sufficed to defuse a conflict that led to violence but initially had political roots. ... Mariano Rajoy, who when he was in the opposition led demonstrations against the peace process and accused [then prime minister] Zapatero of 'betraying the dead', was always kept informed on the progress of the negotiations with Eta. And when he came to power after the renunciation of violence had already been announced, he respected the course adopted by his predecessor.”

El País (ES) /

Glorification must be countered

Eta's self-glorification is unbearable, finds El País:

“Spanish society must not allow Eta to write its own epitaph, because there is nothing positive to remember about it. On the contrary, it is vital to continue disassembling the false discourse of a group of experts in making bombs, carrying out kidnappings and shooting people in the back. There never were two opposed fronts. There were simply those who killed and those who died or suffered. There never was an armed struggle or a conflict that the struggle could resolve, because Eta was the conflict. Its members were not brave Basque soldiers. The heroes were the citizens who refused to remain silent and who challenged them.”

La Croix (FR) /

Violence still not banished from Europe

Although the last chapter in the book of Western European terrorism has closed, an end to the violence is still not in sight, La Croix warns:

“With this dissolution we are witnessing the end of the last terrorist group in Western Europe. ... The lessons of the past must never be forgotten. Violence is a weapon to which the extremists can resort at any moment. Europe - and France in particular - have experienced this for more than a decade with Islamic terror. Violence is also tempting, as we saw on Tuesday during the May 1 demonstrations in Paris. There were no fatalities and no one was seriously wounded. The violence 'only' targeted shops. But that doesn't make it any less worrying. Because violence is a spiral that can easily get out of control.”