BALEARIC PRESIDENT TELLS PRIME MINISTER HE DOES NOT WANT BALEARICS USED BY FORCESBy Humphrey Carter
THE anti-Iraq war movement in Majorca is gathering momentum and yesterday Balearic President Francesc Antich wrote to Prime Minister Aznar asking that, in the event of a conflict, he does not give authorisation for Balearics ports and airports to be used, by allied forces. The letter was dispatched to Madrid with a copy of the resolution approved by the Balearic government on January 24 in opposition to the war and in favour of more opportunity for dialogue and a peaceful solution. The letter also explains to Aznar that the government similar to other developed countries, favours freedom, solidarity and respect between countries and does not agree with the United States taking unilateral action. The Balearic leader however is confident that Aznar will push ahead in favour of dialogue and peace and the involvement of the United Nations in whatever measures are taken. War is violence in itself and not the most suitable solution to international conflicts. Whatever the argument of issue, it loses its justification as soon as weapons become involved, Antich states in his letter. Antich and his government have made their feeling towards the United States, and its nuclear-powered warships, clear in the past. Two years ago when the last US aircraft carrier, the USS Washington on a visit to the Balearics arrived in the Bay of Palma, a flotilla of protesters, including local government members, tried to block the carrier's path. Palma used to be the US Sixth Fleet's most popular port of call, but since then, and especially since September 11 and the suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, visits by US warships have been extremely rare. One of the reasons was the Port Authority's initial failure to meet the new security measures demanded by the United States military. However steps have been taken to improve port security in Palma and at the end of last year the USS Jacinto on her way to the Gulf, visited Palma, surrounded by a major anti-terrorist security operation. Just this week the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and her battle group was ordered to set sail for the Mediterranean. Whether any ships plan to put into Palma remains to be seen, what is clear is that they are unlikely to receive a warm welcome. Yesterday the Balearic University issued a statement condemning the war, calling on the Spanish government to campaign for a peaceful solution at all international meetings. A copy of the communique has been sent to the Prime Minister and the United States Ambassador to Spain. The university's executive commitee maintains that all the options for a peaceful solution have not been used yet and that every effort much be spent on trying to find a reasonable and rational solution to the problem. The Balearic branch of the UGT general workers union also entered the fray yesterday. The union approved a proposal to pressure the European Confederation of Unions into calling a mass Europe-wide protest against the war.
Balearics will not be a strategic base
SPANISH Minister for Public Administration and secretary general of the governing Partido Popular conservative party, said yesterday in Palma that the Balearics will not be used as a strategic base in the event of war in Iraq. During his visit to Majorca he however defended Prime Minister Aznar's policy and warned Saddam is a threat to peace. With regards to anti-war protests in parliament in Madrid, he said everyone is entitled to an opinion this is a free country. He said that Aznar is working very hard to find a peaceful solution, adding that the United Nations is playing an important role in trying to resolve the crisis. But he stressed that Spain will comply fully with a UN second resolution.
SADDAM Hussein would have the necessary military technology to hit the Balearics by 2006, Spanish newspaper La Razon reported yesterday, quoting a NATO report. The paper claimed that Iraq was developing a wide range of long range missiles some of which would be capable of hitting the Balearics. In a front page report, La Razon says that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar was informed of Iraq's missile plans at a summit in Warsaw last year. The report has caused major concerns within NATO, the paper said. Prime Minister Tony Blair has claimed that Iraqi missiles presently had the capability of reaching Cyprus.
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