Zapatero calls for powerful and 'decisive' Europe

1st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 March 2005, PARIS-Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero called for the creation of a powerful Europe in a speech before the French National Assembly.

2 March 2005

PARIS-Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero called for the creation of a powerful Europe in a speech before the French National Assembly.

Zapatero said the continent "must stop being an observer of the international order".

Europe "must be a decisive actor and, in order to acquire this strength, it must reinforce its security policy, foreign policy and policy in the fight against terrorism," the prime minister added.

Earlier, Zapatero and French premier Jean Pierre Raffarin urged French voters to back a forthcoming referendum on the European Constitution.

Speaking briefly in French, the Spanish premier saluted the Assembly and received a round of applause.

Zapatero then continued in Spanish, offering thanks to the French people for the help they had given his country during Franco’s dictatorship.

“Those free spirits in Spain would have crossed the Pyrenees to hide from intolerance,” he said.

Many exiles from the Franco dicatatorship, including Picasso and other artists and intellecuals, escaped to France and lived there until the dictator's death in 1975.

Zapatero’s address to the French National Assembly was the first such appearance by a Spanish politician.

Former US president Bill Clinton, British prime minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Mexican premier Vicente Fox have all addressed the French chamber.

Zapatero wants to extend the close relation which exists between Spain and France, according to sources closet to the Spanish prime minister.

He sees his invitation to appear in Paris and address the Assembly as proof of the strength of this relationship.

Zapatero, who arrived in Paris on Tuesday, is to meet with his French counterpart Jean Pierre Raffarin.

The two men are expected to discuss the EU finances between 2007 and 2013 and the European stability pact.

But in terms of bilateral relations, both leaders are also to discuss the fight against terrorism, particularly against the Basque terrorist group ETA.

They will also touch on questions which arose between French president Jacques Chirac and Zapatero during a previous summit in the eastern Spanish city of Zaragoza in December.

[Copyright EFE with Expatica]

Subject: Spanish news

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