Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) members, January 1, 2011. Image: 20111020-euskaditaaskatasuna/Flickr CC BY 2.0

Basque separatist group ETA, which announced an end to its armed struggle in 2011, said on March 17 it will disarm by next month and reveal arms stockpile sites, the Guardian reported.

Environmental campaigner Txetx Etcheverry told Le Monde: “Eta has handed us responsibility for the disarmament of its arsenal and, as of the evening of April 8, Eta will have completely handed over its weapons.”

Etcheverry said the disarmament should be completed before the first round of France’s presidential election on April 23.

Iñigo Urkullu, the head of the Basque regional government, said authorities were informed of the possible disarmament, and that he hoped it would be “definitive, unilateral, irrevocable, complete and legal”.

“The Basque government judges credible the potential for a final disarmament in the short term,” he said.

“The Basque government will do everything in its power to make sure this goes according to plan, even if not everything is in our hands,” Urkullu said, and called on the French and Spanish governments to facilitate talks.

The Spanish government reacted guardedly to the news.

Spanish government spokesman Iñigo Méndez de Vigo said, “Eta has to do two things: disarm and dissolve itself.”

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reiterated the statement, saying: “ETA has decided to unilaterally disarm. May it do so, and while it’s about it, may it dissolve itself.”

“The Spanish government will apply the law equally to everyone,” Rajoy said.

Other politicians welcomed signs that a handover was nearing.

ETA member Arnaldo Otegi, leader of the far-left Basque separatist party Sortu, said it was an “exciting historical moment”. Otegi was released from prison in 2016 after serving a six-year sentence for trying to regenerate Batasuna, ETA’s banned political wing,

ETA was formed in the 1950s during Francisco Franco’s dictatorship with the goal of establishing an independent Basque state in northern Spain and southern France.

829 people died in bombings and shootings during its four-decade campaign. Its last deadly attack was in 2010.

The group has been trying to negotiate its dissolution in exchange for amnesties or improved conditions for around 350 members imprisoned in Spain and France