Basque civil society groups will fully disarm the separatist group ETA by April 8, a French environmental activist with ties to the Basque community promised Friday.
The militants announced a permanent cease-fire in 2011, but the governments of Spain and France have so far refused to take part in its disarmament because ETA tied it to the future of its militants, both in and out of jail. The two countries have demanded that ETA lay down its weapons without conditions and disband.
Txetx Etcheverry, a prominent figure in the French Basque community who tried to arrange a disarmament in 2016, told The Associated Press that the new initiative was agreed upon with the ETA and will be carried out whether French authorities agree to receive the weapons or not.
“If the French government doesn’t take responsibility, the Basque civil society will take a step forward. We can’t imagine five more years of inaction,” Etcheverry said, pledging that “ETA will be disarmed by midnight on April 8.”
ETA, which in Basque stands for “Basque Country and Freedom,” was founded in 1959 during the Spanish dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco. It has killed 829 people in its nearly four-decade campaign to create a Basque homeland in a region straddling northern Spain and southwest France.