15 March 2004
BERLIN – German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder vowed Monday to stand firm with Madrid in the battle against terrorism in a letter congratulating Spanish Prime Minister-elect Jose Luiz Rodriguez Zapatero on his weekend election victory.
“Spain can be assured of our sympathy and condolences after the terrible terrorist attacks in Madrid,” said Schroeder in a letter to Zapatero, adding: “We will stand firm together in the joint struggle with terrorism.”
Schroeder, whose relations with outgoing conservative Prime Spanish Minister Jose Maria Aznar were often troubled, offered his “warmest congratulations” to Zapatero who is a socialist with close political parallels to the Chancellor’s Social Democrats.
Aznar’s backing for the Iraq war chilled ties with Schroeder who strongly opposed the use of military force against Baghdad.
Spain (backed by Poland) and Germany (supported by France) were also pitted against each other in a disagreement over power sharing in a draft European Union constitution which led to the bloc’s failure to agree a final treaty at a summit last December.
Schroeder’s chief spokesman, Bela Anda, declined any further comment on Zapatero’s surprise election victory.
Anda insisted ties with Aznar had been “good even when there were differences over foreign policy issues.”
Subject: German News