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Monday, 26 August, 2002, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Spain's press approves ban
Jose Maria Aznar and other members of parliament
Prime Minister (below, right) Aznar joins the debate
The Barcelona daily La Vanguardia describes Monday's vote to outlaw the Basque separatist Batasuna party in the Spanish parliament as "historic".

La Vanguardia explains that this "is the first time since the current constitution was approved that the outlawing of a political organization has been urged by the Spanish state".

The newspaper goes on to argue that although no-one believes that this will end violence in the Basque region, most of it sponsored by the ETA separatist armed movement, "there are more than enough reasons to think that things will be more difficult for ETA without a lawful sphere which gives it oxygen."

Rally of Batasuna supporters
Batasuna claims widespread support
The Barcelona daily has described Batasuna as "not a normal political party with conventional structures and methods but an all-embracing, alternative Basque society inspired by ETA," and says the number of its members and details of its financial dealings are not known.

Generating fear

The Madrid newspaper El Mundo publishes an interview with Interior Minister Angel Acebes, in which he outlines the reasons for banning Batasuna.

According to the minister, the aim is to outlaw a party that is an essential element in what he calls the "terrorist strategy".

"For this strategy to succeed it is essential to generate fear. Terrorism would not be effective if it did not generate fear. Batasuna, a lawful party, intensifies, joins in with, increases the fear-generating effect," says Mr Acebes.


There are more than enough reasons to think that things will be more difficult for ETA without a lawful sphere which gives it oxygen

La Vanguardia
He goes on to say that the move is not designed to "outlaw the Batasuna voters", and argues that the move will strengthen democracy in Spain.

"It shows that a state under the rule of law has the duty to defend itself from those who only seek to destroy it through violence."

Words of warning

Most of Spain's mainstream press supports the move, as do the major political parties.

It was left to an Austrian newspaper Der Standard to offer words of warning over the outlawing of Batasuna.

In Monday's edition, the Viennese daily calls the ban a "drastic step" which would give any democracy pause for thought, but says that it does not believe the measure will stop terrorist activity.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jonathan Charles
"Banning a fairly elected political party is a dramatic step"
Eusebio Lasa, Batasuna
"Batasuna is a legal democratic party"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Batasuna ban
Is it the right move or could it backfire?

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23 Aug 02 | Europe
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