ETA declares permanent ceasefire
«Euskadi Ta Askatasunak, 2006ko martxoaren 24ko 00:00-tik aurrera ekintza armatuen etenaldi iraunkorra abiatzea erabaki du.»
These were the first words of the message that ETA made public today: Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) has decided to declare a permanent ceasefire from 24 March 2006. After nearly 40 years fighting for independence, Basque separatist militants commit now to show their "desire and will for the process opened to reach its end, thereby achieving a truly democratic situation for Euskal Herria, ending the long years of conflict and building a peace based on justice."
The news of an ETA ceasefire had circulated since earlier in the day but it only started to hit many Spanish people at lunchtime, when they gathered in the cafes and restaurants. Hope and scepticism were the most common reactions. Scepticism due to the fact that the Basque separatist group ETA has announced numerous ceasefires before; hope because this time its statement explicitly mentions a "permanent ceasefire". That is a first.
Many believe this announcement is a turning point. Some say this was an historic day. I sincerely hope this can be the last chapter of the bloody history of nationalist armed groups in Europe.