Int’l Conference to Solve ETA Conflict

Madrid, Oct 17. -A group of prominent international personalities will attend a meeting in the northern Spanish city of San Sebastian on Monday to seek a final solution to the Basque armed organization ETA.The former UN Secretary General and 2001 Peace Nobel Prize winner, Kofi Annan, will be one of the most prominent participants in the so-called International Conference for the Resolution of the Conflict in the Basque Country.

The meeting, organized by the nationalist association Lokarri and the International Contact Group of South African Lawyer Brian Currin, will be attended by three key participants in the Irish peace process: ex Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, and the former cabinet chief of ex Prime Minister Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell.

Other participants are former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Bruntland and ex French Interior Minister Pierre Joxe.

During the presentation of the meeting last Tuesday, Powell noted that participants do not intend to lecture on how to solve the Basque conflict, but to present their experiences on how their country's disputes were settled.

"Europe and the rest of the international community care about what happens here. This is the last armed conflict in Europe and it's time that it came to an end," Powell said.

Weakened by harsh police blows, ETA has not carried out attacks on Spanish territory since August 2009.

In January, the separatist group announced a permanent, general and internationally-verifiable ceasefire, although it did not mention a possible handing over of weapons or disintegration, a step that many would like to take place after this conference.

The administration of Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expressed respect for the meeting, although government spokesman Jose Blanco made it clear that peace will only exist after ETA surrenders its weapons for good. (Prensa Latina)