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toward the end of eta terrorism

Government will continue to pursue ETA terrorists, vows minister

International mediators complain Spain is making their job “impossible”

The government on Monday vowed to continue its current strategy to annihilate ETA if the Basque terrorist organization does not hand over all its weapons and disband on its own terms.

“We are not in the middle of a peace process but instead in the process of destroying the terrorist group,” Interior Minister Jorge Fernández told a graduating class of National Police officers.

He said the conservative Popular Party (PP) government was not going to take part in any “productions or theatrics,” similar to the scenes in a video released last Friday that showed two hooded ETA members delivering a pledge to international mediators to put some of the organization’s weapons “beyond use.”

“Let it be clear that if they give us the geographical locations or coordinates of the zulos [secret hiding places for weapons] or arsenals — don’t worry — the police and civil guard will effectively verify whether they have turned over all their weapons.”

The political fallout from last week’s news conference by two members of the International Verification Commission (IVC), who met with ETA in Toulouse last month, picked up with the mediators complaining that they have not received any support from Spain’s institutions in their peace initiatives.

At the same time, a Basque euro deputy asked the European Parliament to intervene in the process after she complained about the Spanish High Court’s decision to subpoena the two IVC members on Sunday. “This has no precedent in any peace process in Europe,” said Izaskun Bilbao Barandica, a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group.

A day after he appeared before the High Court, Ram Manikkalingam complained at a news conference in Vitoria that the Spanish government was making the peace process “extremely difficult if not impossible” by refusing to support the IVC’s initiatives.

Manikkalingam, who along with fellow IVC member Ronnie Kasrils is shown in the video meeting with the hooded ETA members, said it was up to “governments, political leaders and citizens” to decide how the peace should be carried out. Sunday’s subpoena for IVC members to give a statement before Judge Ismael Moreno demonstrates the difficulties ETA has in coming forward to “put its weapons, munitions and explosives totally out of commission,” Manikkalingam said.

The two IVC members admitted that Basque terrorists took the “non-useable” weapons with them in a sealed box after the event had been videotaped.

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