In May 1999, through the bishop Juan Maria Uriarte, ETA agreed to meet some government representatives in Geneva, where it advocated the need to respect the political process that had been started. However, the government was only ready to address the definitive end of the armed struggle and the issue of prisoners.

This was the only face-to-face meeting between the two sides. In October, the government responded to ETA’s missive by extending an invitation to a new meeting, in which it would be determined whether the Spanish government was prepared to “respect the wishes and decisions expressed freely by the Basque Country as well as the formula and process behind these decisions”. ETA asked that the meeting be held in a neutral country with a delegation specifically composed of incarcerated members. The response was the arrest, in France, of one of the participants in the first meeting. Furthermore, the government leaked the mediating role of Bishop Uriarte to the media.

The crisis reached its peak. On November 28 ETA ended the ceasefire, accusing the EAJ-PNV and EA of not giving continuity to the process initiated a year and a half earlier. In the following months, the state strengthened its repressive methods with new arrests against socialpolitical organisations. Youth organisations from the patriotic left-wing and solidarity movements with political prisoners were banned, as well as the political organization EKIN and the European association Xaki, whose objective was to put the Basque conflict and the need for its resolution onto the international agenda. Several members of those organisations were arrested, as well as members of the Joxemi Zumalabe Foundation, which supported the citizens’ movement. During the year 2000, there were more than 700 political arrests, including 253 under the accusation of terrorism. The Aznar government took advantage of the international context created after the terrorist attacks on the twin towers on September 11th 2001 to develop further its repressive policies: Basque organisations were listed in US and EU anti-terrorist lists (which resulted in further obstacles for the resolution of the conflict), and Spain agreed to collaborate in US-led logistical and technological anti-terrorism schemes.

Conclusion of the Lizarra-Garazi process