After more than 40 years and 800 deaths, the Basque separatist terrorist organization ETA has “decided on the definitive cessation of its armed activity,” according to a statement published by the BBC.

The ETA had declared its intentions over the last two years to move away from violence and announced a cease-fire. The Beeb points out that the group has violated past cease-fires, but suggests that the combination of police pressure and political opportunity gives this declaration a ring of sincerity.

The ETA is calling on “the governments of Spain and France to open a process of direct dialogue which has as its aim the resolution of the consequences of the conflict and thus the conclusion of the armed conflict,” the statement says.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero called the announcement “a victory for democracy, law and reason.”

It’s also proof that police work and dialogue are the best answers to terrorism. As the BBC reports, “Dozens of ETA militants, including successive leaders, have been arrested and jailed, and analysts say the group realizes its days are numbered.” The ETA cites a recent conference, featuring former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and other foreign dignitaries, as the inspiration for its decision to lay down arms, saying, “We face a historic opportunity to obtain a just and democratic solution to the age-old political conflict.” — PZS

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