Basque group announces it is dissolving

By the Associated Press | January 3, 2013 | 12:33 PM EST

Jean Claude Aguerre, right, and Maite Goyenetxe, French leaders of Batasuna, the outlawed Basque party in Spain, announce the dissolution of the party in France during a press conference in Bayonne, southwestern France, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013. The party continued to operate in France after being banned in Spain for alleged ties to armed separatist group ETA. The move comes after ETA in 2011 announced it had abandoned violence following a four-decade campaign for an independent homeland that claimed more than 800 lives. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)

BAYONNE, France (AP) — The Basque nationalist group known as Batasuna — legal in France but banned in Spain — has announced that it is dissolving after 11 years.

It leaders said Thursday that Batasuna, which means "unity," is dissolving because "the Basque country is witnessing a new political phase."

In Spain, Batasuna has been outlawed since 2003 for its links to the separatist group ETA, but in France it has had a low-profile presence pressing for autonomy for the three French Basque provinces and union with the four Basque provinces in Spain.

A statement by Batasuna noted the ETA's decision to end armed conflict in January 2011. The group said its struggle for a "free, united Basque country" will continue with other "political tools."