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Adams - ETA Cessation provides unprecedented opportunity

6 June, 2006

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has arrived in Bilbao at the start of a three day visit. This evening he will meet the National Executive of Batasuna and with Jon Josu Imaz, the leader of the Basque Nationalist Party.

Mr. Adams welcomed the progress that has been made in the two months since ETA announced its permanent ceasefire. He said:

"The ETA cessation creates an unprecedented opportunity for a lasting and democratic resolution to a conflict that has affected the region for decades.

"For this opportunity to be realised, all sides must take risks, and all sides must engage positively and constructively.

"Inevitably there will be difficulties. It is the nature of this type of process.

"However, in my view none of the difficulties are insurmountable. Consequently, there should be no delay in the commencement of all party talks in the Basque Country. The fundamental causes of the conflict must be addressed by all parties in an open and inclusive manner.

"In Sinn Féin's experience if progress is to be achieved political rights must be protected and upheld. Discussions between the participants, as well as all-party talks requires the lifting of the ban on Batasuna. This would be a common sense step as would the ending of legal proceedings against left nationalist political activists.

"Clearly there is an obligation on all sides to the conflict to state clearly that they will respect the outcome of all party talks. This means the Basques must have the right to decide their own future, peacefully, democratically and free from outside interference.

"The coming weeks will indicate whether all sides to the conflict are willing to take the risks that are required. I am confident that with political will the people of the Basque country and the Spanish state will find a way to resolve all these issues." ENDS

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