by Staff Reporter
BALEARIC leader Jaume Matas said in his End of the Year message that the start of the process to reform the autonomy statutes and the prospects of approving the new European Constitution would mean that 2005 offered “a unique opportunity to improve the historical shortages of the Balearics.” He said that revision of the Statute, which gave the islands substantial home rule, should make the Balearics “absolutely equal with the rest of Spain, with no limits other than those marked by the (Spanish) Constitution.” He went on to say that it was a question of making sure “our Community has the specific weight which corresponds to it within Spain.” Matas also said that the explicit recognition of insularity in the European Constitution offers “an historical opportunity to find efficient formulas to compensate, once and for all, for the shortages derived from living on an island.” In order to achieve this, Matas repeated his proposals to political parties and social and economic circles in the Balearics to join forces in a pact to draw up a new fiscal and financial regime for the Balearic islands.

CHALLENGE
He also commented on the “no less important challenge” of “defining areas, in common agreement, to remedy the deficiences, in some cases historical, in amenities and utilities.” Matas also said that an effort should be made by all parties to put the interests of residents before those of the party or power.
He expressed his government's desire to promote “this new style of politics” by seeking “common spaces” among the divergent projects and priorities.” He also said the fact that the central government is ruled by a different party to the Balearic government should never again be “an element for discrimination.” This was a reference to the current dispute with Madrid over funding for the roads projects and certain environmental projects.

Finally, he said that the Island Councils and the Balearic town and village councils should be able to attend to their responsibilities with their residents, independently of the parties in charge. “The time has come for the Balearics to be heard, serenely, but with conviction,” Matas said as he concluded his message with a New Year toast.

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