Zapatero makes fightagainst terror priority
15 April 2004
MADRID – Spain’s new prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero formally pledged to pull troops out of Iraq Thursday.
In a speech to the Spanish parliament, Zapatero said he would withdraw the 1,300 troops unless the United Nations takes control of the situation by 1 July, as expected.
He said: “We will accept our international obligation to defend peace and security though with the mandate of the UN or any other multi-national organisation.
“The government must carry on firmly supporting the stabilisation, democratisation and the reconstruction of Iraq but not without the Iraqis or against the Iraqis.”
Zapatero began his address before the lower house of parliament with words of support and condolences for the families of the 191 people killed in the 11 March terrorist strikes in Madrid.
He reinforced his government’s commitment to the fight against terror and announced an “immediate” meeting of all parliamentary forces to define the country’s future strategy.
Zapatero said he wanted to make it clear that his government would fight “without mercy” against terrorism.
“Everyone needs to know that the priority of the government is to fight without mercy against terrorism,” he said.
Zapatero said the security forces are to be “better equipped, coordinated and informed” with 36,000 more officers during the next four years.
He claimed that this would stop lack of efficiency which had damaged the security forces’ performance in the past.
But he condemned those who used terrorism for party-political gain.
Zapatero said political unity among parties was a fundamental element to stamping out terrorism.
In his speech, which lasted almost an hour, Zapatero thanked his fellow Spaniards for the trust they placed in him in the 14 March general elections, pledging to make policy “with and for the people”.
He spoke of the consensus on foreign policy needed to strengthen ties with Latin America and Mediterranean nations.
The Socialist leader pledged to fulfil his campaign promises on housing, education, making gay marriages legal and giving women an equal standing in society.
He also pledged to change the Constitution to give Spain’s autonomous regions greater power – a move which was opposed by the conservative Popular Party.
The legislature will formally vote Friday on Zapatero’s candidacy for prime minister.
The Socialists have 164 of the 350 seats in the lower house, so they need the support of 12 lawmakers from other parties for an absolute majority.
They expect to have 178 votes, thanks to support from the United Left and several regional parties, like the left-wing Catalan nationalist ERC party.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news