THE Deputy Prime Minister of Spain, María Teresa Fernández de la Vega, arrived in Majorca last Tuesday and extended her stay so she could have time to talk to the press before she relaxed a little. Here she explains her relationship with the islands and the achievements of the centreal government.
How are you coping now that you have given up smoking?
Well, it is good for my health. I can't say it has been easy as I like smoking, I like tobacco and all that is associated with tobacco, but I can say that in the few months that I have stopped smoking I have felt more healthy.
When will the non-smoking law be approved?
This law is a directive from the European Union. At the moment we are waiting for a report from the Ministry for State, which will be given to the Parliament in a month's time. At the end of this year or at the beginning of the next, the law could come into force.
You must be tired of the nickname people always call you, weak woman with a strong character?
It is one of the things that people call me. I have nothing to say about this. Together the two things are not bad.
You are currently meeting all the regional leaders. When coming to define the state model, will it be easier for you to agree with Matas rather than Maragell, the Catalan leader?
No, let's wait and see. My visits to all the regional leaders is part of a government policy to improve institutional talks and to maintain permanent and constant communication. I feel that this co-operation relationship is going really well and all the leaders have been welcoming, which is something that didn't usually happen. We are all part of the government and we are all work independently in each region.
Yourself as well as the leader Matas seem to want to broadcast that the government is more agreeable, or in other words in a good mood, as if the mood has suddenly been changed here. Up to what point would you say that this is true? What is the smallprint for your visit?
There is no small print. The wish to come to agreements is a definite plan. The mood has been set; it has been set to do things in a different way and to resolve problems in a different way. At the end of the day, all of us are governing for the people who live here, and we want to solve the problems. Problems are solved better when regions work together.
Will there be an agreement for the Road Plan? What will happen with Matas' agreements, and in particular with Raixa, the old country estate in Bunyola?
With regards to the road agreement, everyone knows that there are some discrepancies between the facts presented by the government and the Ministry for Public Works and Buildings. Leaving this to one side, you can't lose sight of the fact that regional governments are responsible for their roads, and that the central government, in favour of co-operation, has put forward a new agreement which will mean more investments than before.
And what about Raixa?
There are discrepancies on the renovation of Raixa but these are currently being solved. Jaume Matas and I talked about this matter in a prior meeting.
You have said that you adore Majorca.
The first time I came here was as a tourist. After this, when I was a spokesperson for the central government, I came here a lot and got to know the islands really well...I love Majorca. I like all the islands, but I especially like the people.