Basque separatist group ETA on Tuesday issued a communique warning of "negative consequences," following the lack of progress in talks held in Oslo and the expulsion of the organization's three representatives in Norway.
The communique, which was published in the online edition of the Basque language newspaper Gara, comes 18 days after David Pla, Iratxe Sortzabal y Josu Ternera, who are not named directly in the communique, were expelled from Oslo in what ETA describes as "a clear step backwards," which "makes the resolution of the conflict more difficult."
However, ETA's communique does not take the step of breaking the ceasefire which was announced in January 2011 and which was confirmed as the group announced a "permanent end to armed activity" on Oct. 20, in the run in the November 2011 general election.
The Spanish government of Mariano Rajoy has always shown itself to be extremely cautious of the ceasefire with members of the government, stressing that the only true end to the problem would be for ETA to hand over its weapons and dissolve completely.
The Spanish Prime Minister, repeated this wish when asked for a comment on the situation this Tuesday in a joint press conference with French President, Francios Hollande.
"I would like to be positive and I don't want to talk about negative issues, but the really positive news will come when ETA announces its permanent disappearance as a terrorist organization," said Rajoy.
ETA's 45-year armed struggle for the independence of the Basque region, which covers areas of northern Spain and the southwest corner of France, had led to an estimated 829 deaths until a ceasefire announced just over two years ago.
ETA responded Tuesday by insisting that disarmament was "outside of the mandate which the International Verification Commission was given and as such has never been on the agenda of either ETA nor the Commission," while blaming the French and Spanish governments for "hiding the total responsibility that these states have in blocking the peace process."
However, the communique stops well short of announcing an end to the ceasefire, concluding: "ETA wants to make public that it will continue working a definitive resolution and that it will maintain active the representation that has been designated. We will not cede in the face of difficulties because Euskal Herria (the Basque region) deserves and needs peace and freedom,"
It should be pointed out the current ETA ceasefire has seen no let up by the Spanish and French security forces in their efforts to hunt down suspected terrorists: the past two years since the January 2011 ceasefire have seen over 80 suspected ETA members arrested, 55 of them in 2012.
Two suspected ETA members, one of whom was identified as Andoni Lariz Bustinduy, were detained in France in January, both were armed and driving a stolen car.
Meanwhile no progress has been made over talks to bring ETA prisoners held in jails around Spain to prisons either in or close to the Basque region, despite several large demonstrations in favor of that happening in Basque cities such as Bilbao.
However, while the ceasefire has been in place the Izquierda Abertzale, which can be considered to be the political wing of ETA has made widespread gains.
The ceasefire helped left wing pro-Basque independence formations such as Bildu and Amaiur, which had previously been unable to stand at elections to present candidacies in regional and local elections and in the November 2011 general election. Meanwhile the political party Sortu was declared to be legal in June 2012 after having previously being banned.
Bildu scored notable success in the 2011 local elections taking 26 percent of the vote in the Basque region and winning control of the town council in San Sebastian, while Amaiur won seven seats in the Spanish Congress and three in the Senate in the general election of the same year.
This electoral success led to what many believe as a division between the political and military wing with the political side viewing a return to armed conflict as counter-productive.
Meanwhile although members of these groups have made moves towards expressing regret for the loss of life during ETA's military campaign so far they have stopped short of apologizing for any loss of life.