Palma.—King Juan Carlos of Spain spent most of yesterday morning in talks with the region's key politicians and top of the agenda was the recent Andraitx fire.

During a meeting with the President of the Balearics, Jose Ramon Bauza, both he and the King agreed that the penal code needs to be revised and tougher penalties introduced for arsonists after the fire which destroyed 2'335 hectares of UNESCO natural heritage is suspected to have been the result of negligence.

Emerging from the meeting, Bauza said that he and the king discussed a number of issues close to the Balearics but denied that they discussed neither the current corruption cases nor the monarch's recent decision to give up the Palma-based royal yacht Fortuna.

The 45-minute meeting with Bauza was the first of the day and the Balearic President said that he found the king in good sprits and very interested and concerned about the problems facing the Balearics. “And, despite him having to walk with a crutch, he was as extraordinary as ever with his jokes and general good humour,” Bauza added. During the meeting, the Balearic President stressed that the population of the Balearics considers it “an honour and a privilege” to have the royal family on holiday in Majorca every year and that it makes people “very proud”. “We consider the royals like another family of Majorcans and we are extremely happy that they know they can come to Majorca whenever they wish to relax and we want them to continue coming for many more years,” Bauza said.

More importantly, the king wanted to be brought up to speed on what is happening in the Andraitx area after the fire and Bauza explained that his government has already started work and repairing the structural and environmental damage caused by the blaze which should be declared out within the next few days.

Bauza told the King that a total of 800 people joined the fire fight on the ground and 29 special water carrying aircraft from all over Spain were vital to halting the spread of the fire.

Bauza and the king also discussed what action is being taken to drag the Balearics out of the recession and that the current figures, depending on who is to be believed, points towards this Summer season being one of the best on record for the region as unemployment continues to fall. “I told the king that the Balearics will be the first region to exit the crisis,” Bauza said.
During his meeting with the Mayor of Palma, Mateo Isern, the king also showed a great deal of interest in Palma's financial situation and both men agreed like the rest of the country, Palma is in a better position that it was this time a year ago.

Isern briefed the king on the latest successes and developments of the Palma 365 promotional campaign and that it is proving to work with a significant increase in the number of visitors coming to the capital, the centre of which is now open seven days per week.

The king's only concern was the Convention Centre, but the mayor assured him that work will resume on the complex in November and will take a year to complete.

The President of the Council of Majorca, Maria Salom, took the opportunity of thanking the king for the royal family's support last week during the battle to control the fire in Andraitx when Queen Sofia, Crown Prince Felipe and Princess Elena visited the area to thank fire fighters and volunteers and meet some of the evacuees.

Parliamentary Speaker, Margalida Duran, in her first meeting with the King, briefed the monarch on the latest laws going through parliament and said that she was very impressed with the great deal of interest the king has in Balearic affairs.


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