Progress toward getting the violent Basque separatist group ETA to declare a definitive end to its armed activity can be attributed to many factors, including successful police action that decimated the organization. Overall, however, the process illustrates the benefits of “policing down” a terrorist campaign, but also the impossibility of “policing it out” without dialogue of some kind.

Virtual Peacemaking: The End of ETA's Violence

By , , Briefing

The violent Basque separatist group ETA recently declared a definitive end to its armed activity, 52 years after its founding. The declaration came in response to an appeal made on Oct. 17 by a group of international peacemakers, led by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, that gathered in San Sebastián, Spain, for a carefully choreographed peace conference to help bring a close to what the group called “the last armed confrontation in Europe.”

The phrase, and the presence of the peacemakers, irritated many in Spain who see ETA’s actions solely in terms of terrorism and have long considered the organization a defeated force. Yet the brief intervention did the trick. Members of Batasuna, the banned political party affiliated with ETA, subscribed to the international appeal the next morning. ETA’s response came just 36 hours later. ...

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