Basque militant group Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) yesterday apologized for the harm caused to victims and their relatives during its half-century-long violent campaign to create an independent state in northern Spain and southwest France.
The apology came as the group is expected to announce its final dissolution early next month, just more than a year after it ended its armed separatist campaign by surrendering guns and explosives.
The group declared a ceasefire in 2011 and handed over weapons caches in April last year, bringing a close to Western Europe’s last major armed insurgency.
“We are aware that during this long period of armed struggle we have created a lot of pain, including many damages for which there is no solution. We want to show respect for the dead, those injured and the victims that were caused by the actions of ETA... We truly apologize,” the group said in a statement published by Basque newspaper Gara.
“Looking forward, reconciliation is one of the tasks that has to be carried out in the Basque Country, something that is already happening between citizens. It is a needed exercise to acknowledge the truth in a constructive way, heal wounds and build up guarantees so that this suffering does not happen again,” it added.
ETA was founded in 1959 and arose from anger and frustration among Basques, who have their own language and culture, from political repression under then-Spanish leader General Francisco Franco.
The campaign, which included political assassinations, as well as bombings aimed at the general populace, escalated in the 1960s into violence that was reciprocated by the Franco dictatorship.
ETA is to announce its full dissolution in the first weekend of next month, Basque broadcaster Euskal Irrati Telebista reported on Wednesday.
Details of the event are expected to be announced at a news conference on Monday next week by South African lawyer Brian Currin and other members of the International Contact Group mediating body.
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