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Kelly concerned at French authorities actions against Basque peace initiative

20 December, 2016 - by Gerry Kelly

Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has questioned the political decision that led to French police arresting five members of Basque civil society who were engaged in an initiative, as they state, to 'transfer to civil society the political responsibility for the destruction of all the weapons from its (ETA's) military arsenal'.

Gerry Kelly stated:

“The arrest of 5 members of Basque civil society by French police in the Basque town of Luhuso is a blow to efforts to promote the Basque peace process.

“It is clear in the absence of engagement by the Spanish government with representatives of the Basque independence movement these actions were designed to assist the peace process and deal with the issue of decommissioning.

“Those arrested had no connection to ETA despite a statement by the Spanish Interior Ministry labelling them as 'ETA's legal members'.

“The intention and motive of those arrested was to promote a democratic future with the absence of all violence in the Basque Country.

“Removal and destruction of weapons was their intention; actions which were designed to lead to a final resolution of the conflict.

"Sinn Féin are calling for the immediate release of those arrested. French authorities should act in the interests of peace not Spanish Government interests of obstructing peace.

“The Spanish government should shift its current policy of obstruction which is diminishing this historical opportunity and instead promote and support a process of dialogue to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Basque Country.

“They should start a process which deals with all issues relating to the conflict – including a process of decommissioning weapons according to international standards.”

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