Spain backs democratic reforms in Egypt, Tunisia

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Spain backs "peaceful" democratic reforms in Egypt and Tunisia, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said Sunday.

"We want for these Mediterranean nations who are our friends the same which we wanted for ourselves: democratic reforms, freedom, progress, social justice," he told a meeting of his Socialist Party in Zaragoza in the north.

"We want peaceful change and want and will commit ourselves to getting the EU to back these changes and ensure that support for young people's aspirations for employment opportunities are also part of the European Union's policy."

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Egypt for nearly a week calling for President Hosni Mubarak to step down. They blame his administration for widespread poverty, unemployment, police brutality and corruption.

The protests in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation, were inspired by the uprising that ousted Tunisia's Ben Ali on January 14.

Dozens of people were killed in the unrest in both nations.

General Francisco Franco ruled Spain with an authoritarian hand between 1939 and his death on November 20, 1975, at the age of 82. The country's relatively smooth transition to democracy afer his death is often held up as a model.

© 2011 AFP

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