Pablo Munoz: If Northern Ireland is a model, Basques need a Gerry Adams to call order

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The Independent Online

A lot of people are asking what Eta needs to make its ceasefire permanent and credible. The answer, I believe, is a Basque Gerry Adams, a leadership figure with enough authority and courage to stand up and say, it's time to turn the lights out, and turn the page.

That's never an easy thing for an armed organisation to do. But the problem is that Eta currently lacks that sort of Adams figure – even though they have had such leaders in the past. But after so many recent arrests in the last year, the group's high command is young, inexperienced and hasn't shown they have the strength of personality required.

Yet, this truce still matters. Why? It is the first time in the history of the 50-year armed conflict that ETA has let itself be influenced by the broader radical left-wing nationalist movement, which has been demanding a peaceful solution. Until now, Eta has always considered itself the spearhead of those forces, political and otherwise, seeking independence. Now it is following somebody else's line.

At the same time, this is a ceasefire, temporary or not. For anybody who is currently under threat from Eta, in need of bodyguards just to go about their normal daily lives, that is hugely important.

Spain's main Madrid-based political parties have expressed dissatisfaction and called the truce insufficient, and in some ways it is. What's particularly noticeable is that ETA doesn't renounce its self-appointed role as "guardian of the Basque Country". Nor does the statement Eta issued say that the truce can be verified by international observers, as happened in Northern Ireland, because they know that if a ceasefire is verifiable, it quickly starts to be irreversible.

If you look at other conflicts worldwide, I believe there's no way that Eta, after 50 years, is going to surrender and hand over its weapons without getting something in return. And the Madrid-based political parties know that, even if they can't say it.

Eta is a terrorist group but its members are living under the illusion that they are freedom fighters. So even if they know they've lost the battle, they can't admit the defeat, particularly – as is the case right now – when they lack a personality capable of bringing the fighters into line and telling them that it's time to call a halt.

Pablo Munoz is editorial director of the Grupo Noticias media group