Zapatero's antiterrorist pact offer to preclude ETA talks
PM to reach out to opposition in Tuesday investiture speech.7 April 2008
MADRID - Reaching a cross-party antiterrorism agreement that excludes negotiations with the terrorist group ETA will be a key issue in Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero's investiture speech on Tuesday in Congress.
According to Socialist Party sources, Zapatero will reach out to the main opposition Popular Party (PP), as well as other parties, in an effort to mend the consensus on state antiterrorist policies that was broken during his last term in office, when he opened peace talks with ETA that were harshly criticised by the PP.
The ceasefire announced by the Basque group in March 2006 was effectively broken in December of that year with the bombing of the T-4 terminal at Madrid's Barajas airport that killed two people. Talks with ETA were discontinued and Zapatero has since promised not to try again until ETA lays down its weapons.
This new consensus will not require signing a multi-party agreement as in the past, but will instead focus on practical cooperation in the legal and political campaign against the terrorist organization.
In his investiture speech, Zapatero will also address solutions for the construction sector, which has been hardest hit by the economic slowdown. Short-term measures will include encouraging the construction of up to 150,000 new subsidised housing units and public infrastructure such as nurseries and courthouses.
The prime minister will additionally discuss "a national project" on social policies in cooperation with regional governments, as well as environmental, scientific and educational issues.
The Socialist Party was re-elected in the 9 March general elections with 169 deputies, but is seven seats short of an absolute majority, forcing Zapatero to seek allies to push legislation through in the coming four years.
[El Pais / L. R. Aizpeolea / Expatica]