King calls for unity in face of economic woes
Inaugural parliament session outlines terrorism as one of Spain's main challenges.17 April 2008
MADRID - King Juan Carlos opened the newly-elected parliament on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to work together and focus on three priorities at the start of the new legislature: the problems looming over the economy, the fight against terrorism and improving the country's status abroad.
Speaking before Congress representatives and senators in a packed parliament in Madrid, the king called for unity among political parties to deal with the challenges facing the country after four years of deep divisions between the re-elected Socialists and the main opposition right-wing Popular Party.
"A united, plural and modern Spain requires that we harmonise our interests," the monarch told lawmakers.
The need for parties to work together is increasingly necessary - King Juan Carlos stated - in order to fight the Basque terrorists of ETA and to cushion the Spanish economy from a global slowdown.
"Unity to end the terrorist barbarity is an obligation of all democrats," the king said, noting that ETA had once again shown its "bloody face" during the campaign to the 9 March general election by murdering a Socialist former councillor in the Basque Country.
Regarding the economy, the king called on politicians and citizens to react with "dialogue, cohesion and solidarity" in order to return to levels of high growth.
He also suggested that Spain needs to work on its foreign policy in order to "maintain growth, ensure security and guarantee peace."
Looking ahead to 2010, when Spain will chair the EU, the king said the country should use the occasion to promote European integration.
[El Pais / A. Eatwell / Expatica]