WHAT COUNTS with this organisation is not what it says but what it does. If it stops killing, even temporarily and with conditions attached, that is better than not. The peace process in Ireland is definitely an influence. The way the situation there is evolving favours peace in the Basque country. In Northern Ireland bombs and shootings have lost every tinge of heroism: today the image of the activist is closer to that of the criminal who planted the Omagh bomb than to the patriot fighting for an ideal. Perhaps ETA's members, or at least its political arm, have realised that that is their fate if they don't call a halt now: that they will be not the Basque IRA, but the loathed Real version of Omagh. That ETA should now take the way of peace, leaving the guns to rust, is a possibility, not a certainty.
THIS IS a victory for political and judicial action. It is a success for this government, which has known how to strike, dealing with ETA without giving in to the temptation to fight a dirty war. And paradoxical as it may seem, we must recognise the part played by the nationalist parties which have shown the Basque movement that another path was open to them, the path of peace.
The reaction of many politicians is not to believe in this, to discount the nationalists' position, and see the ceasefire as a vote-catching strategy. It is hard to forget so much bloodshed, but it would not come amiss, this once, to give good faith a chance and for all of us to look for peace instead of for victory.