MADRID/PALMA

PALMA
BALEARIC president Francesc Antich gave assurances yesterday, that the “linguistic conflict” with German airline Air Berlin - which, he said, “should never have happened in the first place” - is now well and truly over.

The next move, Antich said, will be a meeting between the regional government's Language Policy directorate and representatives of the airline to establish a possible course of action. The president claimed the clash had arisen because the airline had “misinterpreted” a letter “inviting” them to engage in the use of Catalan as the first business language of the Balearic Islands.

Nevertheless, Antich commented that he viewed the government's relationship with the German airline as “extraordinarily good” and highlighted the importance of transport and communications infrastructure for the Balearics. Air Berlin, he asserted, was a major link between the Islands and Germany - a key client market for the tourist industry.

Asked to comment on the actions of a member of the Catalan Republican Party who had posted the sign of a swastika next to Air Berlin's logo on his website, Antich responded that “no one in the Balearic government has either spoken of or done anything similar to this type of thing.” Alluding to speculation that the current legislation for 50 percent of teaching in Balearic schools to be undertaken in Catalan could eventually increase to 100 percent, Antich declared that there are two official languages in the region - Castillian and Catalan. The president rejected the claim that Catalan is being promoted in teaching to the detriment of English, saying only that plans to have a third of all teaching done in English had not materialised because of a lack of qualified staff.

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