Deputy PM backs Basque wing against attacks from right

Sáenz de Santamaría insists government policy toward terrorism is to never "let its guard down"

Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (l), and the head of the Basque PP Arantza Quiroga.
Deputy PM Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría (l), and the head of the Basque PP Arantza Quiroga.Alfredo Aldai (Efe)

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría on Thursday came out in support of the Basque Country branch of the ruling Popular Party (PP), which has come in for flak from victims of terrorism groups and right-wing elements within the PP itself about a perceived relaxation of the government's hardline stance on terrorism.

Speaking at a conference alongside the Basque PP leader, Arantxa Quiroga, Sáenz de Santamaría insisted that the government's policy toward terrorism has been to never "let its guard down" and reminded her audience that since 2012, 96 members of ETA had been arrested in Spain and elsewhere.

Discontent among victims groups and right-wing members of the PP has been fueled by a number of ETA prisoners being released after the European Court of Human Rights last year overturned the so-called Parot doctrine, under which the Spanish authorities could prevent terrorists being released before the the 30-year maximum jail term.

Sáenz de Santamaría said the only thing left for ETA to do now, having abandoned its armed struggle for independence for the Basque Country, is to "disband without conditions or concessions." She said Quiroga has "continued to defend the same ideas and the same project" in favor of freedom and democracy since she joined the PP 19 years ago; a project, the deputy PM added, that had "cost the lives of many colleagues."

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