The Basque conflict, also known as the Spain–ETA conflict, was an armed conflict between the Spanish state, France and the Basque National Liberation Movement, a group of social and political Basque organizations which sought independence from Spain and France. The movement was built around the separatist organization ETA which since 1959 launched a campaign of attacks against Spanish administrations. The conflict took place mostly on Spanish soil, although to a smaller degree it was also present in France, and was the longest violent conflict in Western Europe. It has been sometimes referred to as “Europe’s longest war”.
The conflict has both political and military dimensions. Its participants include politicians and political activists on both sides, the abertzale left and the Spanish government, and the security forces of Spain and France fighting against ETA and other small organizations, usually involved in the kale borroka. Far-right paramilitary groups fighting against ETA were also active in the 1980s.
Although the debate on Basque independence started in the 19th century, the armed conflict did not start until ETA was created. Since then, the conflict has resulted in the death of more than 1,000 people, among them police and security officers, civilians, politicians or ETA members. There have also been thousands of people injured, dozens kidnapped and a disputed number has gone to exile. On 20 October 2011, ETA announced a “definitive cessation of its armed activity”. Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero described the move as “a victory for democracy, law and reason”