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  • A news program announcing the dissolution of armed Basque separatists ETA due for the first week of May, according to local television station ETB, in Guernica, April 18, 2018.

    A news program announcing the dissolution of armed Basque separatists ETA due for the first week of May, according to local television station ETB, in Guernica, April 18, 2018. | Photo: Reuters

Published 19 April 2018

The group declared a ceasefire in 2011 and handed over weapons caches in April 2017, bringing a close to Western Europe's last major armed insurgency.

The Basque militant group ETA will announce its final dissolution early next month, public television station ETB reported Thursday, just over a year since it ended its armed separatist campaign by surrendering weapons.

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A Basque newspaper, Gara, reported in February that ETA's leaders would ask its members to vote on whether it should disband completely by the summer.

The group will announce its full dissolution during the first weekend of May, ETB reported. Details of the event are expected to be announced at a news conference on Monday by South African lawyer Brian Currin and other members of the International Contact Group mediating body, it said.

ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna - Basque Country and Freedom) was founded in 1959 and arose from anger and frustration among Basques, who have their own language and culture, from political repression under General Francisco Franco. The campaign escalated in the 1960s into violence that was reciprocated by the Franco dictatorship.

A current independence drive in Catalonia gained momentum after then regional leader Artur Mas asked Madrid to grant it a similar fiscal status as the Basque Country, a request roundly rejected by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.

The Basque fiscal autonomy, among the most generous of any region in Europe, dates back to the 19th century and is enshrined in Spain's 1978 constitution. If it were to be extended to Catalonia, an economically more powerful region accounting for a fifth of national output, the Spanish state would lose about 16 billion euros, according to a study by public research body CSIC.


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