In final letter to Spain, Basque separatists ETA end 'all political activity'

A man holds a Basque flag at a demonstration supporting Eta prisoners held in Bilbao 21 April 2018.                  Reuters  Vincent West

Separatist group ETA says its journey and political activities have ended, a day after the organization's intentions were leaked in a letter.

The armed Basque separatist group ETA announced Thursday in an official statement that it had "completely dissolved all its structures". "The whole ETA project was a resounding and complete failure", he said.

Despite the group's ineffective attempts to create a sovereign Basque state, the region has more autonomy today than any of Spain's 17 regions - with its own police force, education system, language and financial relationship with the federal government.

ETA announced its decision to end attacks in 2011 and in 2017 it handed over 3.5 tonnes of weapons, bringing Western Europe's last major militant campaign to a close.

ETA said it has "completely dismantled all of its structures" and will "no longer express political positions, promote initiatives or interact with other actors". "It will require recognition, respect, apology and support to all the victims of violence as well as a commitment to the truth and justice wherever that leads", Harland said.

"No matter what ETA does, there is no room for impunity for its crimes. ETA can announce its disappearance but its crimes do not disappear nor do the efforts to pursue and punish them", he said in a televised speech in the northern Spanish city of Logrono. "It puts an end to a dark chapter of 60 years", he added in an interview published earlier on Thursday in Spanish newspaper El Pais. "There are no winners or losers", he said.

Basque separatists formed ETA in 1959 in response to late Spanish dictator Francisco Franco's repression of Basques, but its violent campaign emerged in 1968 with the killing of a police officer.

Violence escalated in the 1960s and Franco's regime responded in kind, as the group assassinated politicians and officials as well as bombing public places.

ETA killed more than 850 people in its six decades of existence.

But as Spain returned to democracy after Franco's death in 1975 and the Basque Country gained a large measure of autonomy, its attacks on the general populace, including a 1987 auto bomb at a Barcelona supermarket which killed a pregnant woman and two children, horrified people and cost it support.

A man walks past a painting depicting the Basque country between a French flag, right, and the Spanish flag, in Bayonne, southern France, on Thursday.

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