Media criticise government for Gaddafi's visit

18th December 2007, Comments 0 comments

Spanish editorialists Tuesday criticised the visit of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi to Spain, accusing the government of sacrificing democratic principles for the sake of economic advantages.

18 December 2007

MADRID - Spanish editorialists Tuesday criticised the visit of Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi to Spain, accusing the government of sacrificing democratic principles for the sake of economic advantages.

Gaddafi began his two-day official visit on Monday.

Spain is expecting economic cooperation projects worth EUR 11.5 billion in Libya as a result of the visit, according to estimates quoted in press reports.

Spanish companies are expecting deals especially in the sectors of infrastructure, defence and energy, which Libya wants to modernise.

Editorialists across the political spectrum, however, criticised Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist government for receiving a "dictator" who had offered the country the extravagant spectacle of his huge delegation, Bedouin tent and 30 female virgin guards.

The relations between Spain and Libya had started warming up already under the previous conservative government, and Gaddafi received former conservative premier Jose Maria Aznar on Saturday.

It was contradictory for the European Union to have given a cool treatment to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe at the recent EU- Africa summit in Lisbon, while countries like France and Spain welcomed equally undemocratic Gaddafi, the daily El Pais said.

"The same dictator who until very recently was rejected because of his links with international terrorism ... now deserves all sorts of honours in France and Spain," the daily El Mundo complained.

The daily ABC described Gaddafi as a "grotesque and decadent figure" whose emotional stability could be questioned, and whose dictatorial ways increased the risk of clandestine extremist movements emerging in Libya.

Vice-Premier Pedro Solbes defended the visit, saying that relations with Libya "have never been easy" and that the treatment Spain gave Gaddafi was "coherent with EU positions."

Solbes admitted that the relations had "changed substantially" because of economic factors and others linked to "Islamic themes."

Gaddafi came to Spain late last week from France, which also secured important deals for its companies. The visit to Spain was the first official one by a Libyan leader.

The visit was scheduled to end with a lunch hosted by King Juan Carlos on Tuesday.

[Copyright dpa 2007]

Subject: Spanish news

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