ANTICH CRITICISES AZNAR BUT ASKS PM FOR HELP

By Humphrey Carter

WAR in Iraq is going to deal a serious blow to the Balearic tourist industry, according to president Francesc Antich, responding to the 48-hour deadline given to Saddam Hussein yesterday. Emerging from yesterday morning's parliamentary session Antich said he would like to remind the Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, that the region “is totally against the war,” adding “tourism's worst enemy is violence, terrorism and war.” With a military strike against Iraq more likely than ever, Antich repeated his call for central government help in defending the Balearics' tourism industry, suggesting that some form of international television campaign should be launched to salvage as much as possible out of the forthcoming summer tourist season.

But while asking Madrid for help, Antich launched a heavy attack on the central government over its support for the United States and Britain, accusing Aznar of “making a serious mistake” and “causing a serious rift within Europe and damaging the relations with the Arab world which have, until now, been good.” Antich was backed up by his deputy, Minister for Commerce, Pere Sampol, who agreed that the war will have serious consequences on tourism and trade.
However, feelings in the Balearics are not quite as united as Antich claims and opposition Partido Popular parliamentary spokesperson, Joan Flaquer, made it quite clear that Saddam Hussein has had twelve years since the first Gulf War ended “to have voluntarily complied with demands of the United Nations.” “Only international pressure and the threat of possible military intervention have achieved anything over the past few months, although he still has not fully disarmed,” Flaquer said, adding that this final deadline “will help to achieve what everybody wants, that Saddam complies with what the international community has been demanding for the past 12 years.” However, Flaquer said that, with the elections just two months away, the PP is not going to waste too much time talking about the war, but rather the situation in the Balearics after four years of left-wing coalition government “falling tourism, waiting lists at hospitals, rising crime and the lack of security on the roads.”

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