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Last Updated: Monday, 15 November, 2004, 11:21 GMT
Press lukewarm on Basque talks call
Spanish press graphic

Monday's Spanish newspapers assess the call from the leader of the separatist party Batasuna for peaceful dialogue to end the conflict over the Basque region.

Papers in the Basque region itself are broadly supportive of the move by Arnaldo Otegi, but those based in Madrid are less than impressed.

The San Sebastian daily Gara, which is close to Batasuna, is in upbeat mood and describes Mr Otegi's proposal as a "firm commitment to the civil resolution of the conflict".

"In spite of the spectacular trappings of the public presentation of Batasuna's new political proposal, it does not appear to be a mere publicity pose or an ad hoc response to obtain media prominence," the paper says.

"The Basque Country faces an historic opportunity to channel the conflict... along the path of democracy."

No rush to celebrate

It is a mood which is not quite shared by Bilbao's Deia, a newspaper close to the Basque Nationalist Party.

"There are no reasons for rushing to celebrate", it warns, "but it would be a serious mistake if this initiative were to go to waste."

In itself, the Batasuna document does not represent anything new with respect to previous tactics

The paper believes the "radical Basque nationalist left" should be given "the opportunity to show with deeds that their words yesterday are sincere".

But Madrid's La Razon believes that would be a waste of time.

Its editorial laments the fact that "Batasuna does not condemn Eta".

The paper is not impressed by Mr Otegi's speech, which it says was "puffed up... as a turning point on the Basque issue and a radical switch in the strategy of Batasuna".

In La Razon's eyes, the proposal "was just a reiteration of the traditional position of the radical Basque nationalist left, with few qualifications and seasonings".

'Nothing new'

Madrid's ABC agrees, saying that "in itself, the Batasuna document does not represent anything new with respect to previous tactics".

El Pais, also based in Madrid, thinks Mr Otegi's statement has a self-serving purpose.

"The proposal presented by Batasuna yesterday is addressed to its own political clientele," it argues.

"Fundamentally it is an attempt to remain in the limelight in spite of the apparent proximity of the defeat of Eta."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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