toward the end of terrorism

Politicians react cautiously to ETA inmates’ latest statement

More steps needed for definitive dissolution of group, say parties

Spain’s political parties reacted with caution on Sunday to the news that emerged the day before that the collective representing ETA inmates was willing to recognize the legality of the Spanish penitentiary system, as well as acknowledging the “multilateral” damage their members have caused during their decades-long terror campaign.

“It is one step further but it is not the first or the last of ETA’s demise,” said opposition Socialist leader Alfredo Rubalcaba. “Something is seriously missing from the statement: the demand that the group disband,” he added.

While the Popular Party government of Mariano Rajoy did not issue an official reaction to Saturday’s announcement by the ETA prisoners’ collective (EPPK), the PP leader in the Basque Country, Iñaki Oyarzábal, said the declaration “wasn’t enough.” He maintained that the government’s anti-terrorist strategy was on the right track: to force ETA to disband and lay down its arms.

Through a spokeswoman, the EPPK also said it would not stand in the way of any inmate who wants to join the government’s reinsertion program designed for early release, and rejected the violence and suffering caused by the group’s five decades of terror. But the EPPK made no mention of ETA’s dissolution.

Josu Erkoreka, spokesman for the Basque regional government, described the EPPK statement as “limited” and called on the ETA leadership to take its own steps to disband.

Meanwhile, Ángeles Pedraza, the president of the Terrorism Victims Association (AVT), warned that the EPPK statement was designed to help the inmates walk free, despite the crimes that they had committed. “If they admit the damages they caused, they should also assume their responsibilities and complete their sentences,” she said.

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