Friday, June 30, 2006

Chronicle Of A Peace Process....Negotiations With ETA To Begin

In the end it was a bit of an anti-climax, Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had already made it clear that he intended to announce the beginning of negotiations with ETA before the end of June. In the end, he only just made the deadline; the announcement was made to the press yesterday afternoon after the Interior Minister had met representatives of political parties in the morning. Zapatero’s announcement - which contained no specifics - made nods in all the right directions, expressing his desire that the wishes of the Basque people be respected whilst at the same time stating that there would be no political price paid to secure the end of ETA’s activities.

As everyone knew that the announcement was coming, the responses to it have been fairly predictable. Only the Partido Popular (PP) has expressed outright opposition to the government’s intentions, but it has been clear for some time now that they were not going to be in agreement. The holiday season In Spain begins in earnest today, and that obviously includes the parliamentary holidays too. Whether anything will actually happen during the summer is not clear, it may just be that Zapatero wants Spanish society to get used to the idea that negotiations are going to take place before beginning the process. Yesterday it was made clear that the Interior Minister would report to Parliament on progress in September, so it seems unlikely that there will be any significant developments before the end of the summer.

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