Zapatero avoids mentioning three letter word: ETA

30th May 2006, Comments 0 comments

30 May 2006, MADRID — José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero used the annual state of the nation debate to broach key subjects of immigration and territorial reform.

30 May 2006

MADRID — José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero used the annual state of the nation debate to broach key subjects of immigration and territorial reform.

But the Spanish premier steered clear of mentioning the ETA ceasefire in any depth.

Instead, he concentrated on the economy and social reforms.

He admitted there were problems of creeping inflation and foreign deficit.

But Zapatero also reflected on Spanish economic growth, foreign investment and improved exports.

He insisted that Spain had to reform its "model of productivity and competition with its rivals".

He added: "The government is taking and will take measures in both areas."

Zapatero predicted the public debt may amount to 1.1 percent of the GDP this year – the same figure as in 2005.

The prime minister claimed work reforms to start in July, which are to increase the number of fixed contracts for workers, will provide permanent jobs for three million workers by 2008.

Business people below the age of 35 can enjoy 50 percent reductions in social security contributions for granting permanent contracts to workers, as part of the same reforms.

In order to offer young people the chance to get a home, as rising house prices have made buying a house impossible for many, Zapatero announced tax cuts to allow more people to rent places.

He also announced a EUR 7 billion investment plan to help 720,000 families get homes.

In order to encourage more young people to speak foreign languages, Zapatero said the government will offer EUR 1,000 grants to learn English in college for those aged 18-30.

They can also take out interest-free loans for broadband and to get training in information technology.

On immigration, Zapatero asked people to respect immigrants as "Spain has always been a land of emigrants".

But he added migrants "must understand they can only stay in Spain if they are legal".

Zapatero, who is to begin talks with ETA next month, only made a passing reference the peace process, asking for "generosity".

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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