24 February 2004
MADRID – The main political parties clashed Tuesday over the controversial issue of Spanish troops in Iraq.
If re-elected, the conservative Popular Party (PP) would keep the troops stationed in Iraq as they claim the contingent of 1,500 soldiers helps the country’s stability.
But the socialist PSOE opposition party would recall the troops by 30 June if they got into power after the 14 March general election.
During the US-led invasion of Iraq, polls showed 80 percent of Spaniards were against the country’s support for the conflict – one of the highest levels of opposition in Europe.
It is thought to be a key issue in the forthcoming election, but Spain’s stance is more closely linked to prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, who is to stand down. So it may not affect the electoral chances of his PP party.
The PP is in favour of sending the armed forces on peace-keeping and humanitarian missions and increasing the participation of the Civil Guard in foreign operations.
It also favours collaborating with Ibero-American countries and European safety and defence organisations.
In the next legislature, Parliament is likely to approve the reform to the Law on Basic Defence Criteria, which will establish a National Safety and Defence Council and assess the prime minister in war and crisis management.
Both the PP and PSOE propose improving military recruitment and modernising military materials; the PP also offers personal promotion plans, improved training and mobility.
The PSOE proposes a system whereby soldiers and marines are aware of long-term forecasts for permanent employment so they can plan their careers.
The left-wing IU would repatriate the troops from Iraq immediately, unless the United Nations took direct charge of the country.
IU also proposes a constitutional reform that includes rejecting warfare in the resolution of conflicts, and that the State recognise soldiers’ right to object in the event of illegal military operations.
Left wing parties openly reject preventive warfare and want the Parliament to debate and authorise troop mobilisation, while the PP sees this as something the Constitution authorises the Government to do.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news