Basque leader calls on ETA to “take next step” toward peace route

Urkullu to ask PM for changes to regional penitentiary policy

Just two days after the ETA prisoners collective announced that it recognized the violence its inmates have caused over the past five decades, Basque premier Iñigo Urkullu on Monday called on the leaders of the terrorist group to take further “steps as soon as possible” for peace.

In a year-end address before eight of his commissioners, the lehendakari said the announcement made by ETA’s EPPK prison collective “was a significant change” in the terrorist inmates’ past policies of not recognizing the legitimacy of the Spanish penal system.

Urkullu stressed that the government’s reinsertion program — known as the Nanclares Way, after the prison where repentant ETA inmates were transferred — is “absolutely the best” for Basque terrorist inmates to be rehabilitated. “I believe the Zaballa Way [the prison which has now replaced Nanclares as the home of the rehabilitation program] is the route in which female and male inmates who are addressed in this announcement will be able to progress.”

In its statement, EPPK said it also recognized the government’s Nanclares reinsertion program, which has been interpreted as an approval for ETA inmates to agree to rehabilitation.

When asked by journalists, Urkullu reiterated his call to the central government to transfer penitentiary supervision to the local Basque authorities. The current policy has been in effect for the past 34 years since the autonomy statute was approved. He said he would ask Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to put discussions on changes to penitentiary policies high on the peace agenda.

The lehendakari also repeated his calls for ETA to “disarm,” which he said could be done “unilaterally” by the terrorist group’s own decision.

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