THE Spanish Prime Minister, José María Aznar, believes that the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers' Party) “has embarked on an aimless path to inconsistency”, claiming that they have no fixed agenda, no coherent plans or sense of direction. He called on the Opposition party to act with “common sense” with regard to proposed anti-terrorist policies.
Aznar accused the Socialists in front of a some five hundred Popular Party (PP) supporters at a dinner organised by the PP on Minorca which brought to a close the Prime Minister's holiday on the Balearic Island. Accompanied by Jaume Matas, the leader of the Balearic government, Aznar set aside a large part of his speech to defending the struggle against all types of terrorism, “as much against the kind that witnesses a car bomb attack on the United Nations offices in Iraq as against that which seeks to destroy Guardia Civil housing quarters”. Aznar rhetorically asked the PSOE to define their ideals for Spain and said he found it surprising that there are senior PSOE figures such as Pasqual Maragall of Catalonia, amongst others, whose conception of the Spanish Constitution is of an instrument “to use and throw away”. Aznar said he also found it difficult to understand the motives behind a pact that the Socialist Oppostion has made in Navarre with an outlawed political party, widely believed to be linked to the Basque terrorist group, ETA. Aznar went on to lay the blame for the Madrid parliamentary crisis at the feet of the PSOE. He challenged them to declare, when the results of fresh elections are announced, whether or not they would be prepared to govern in a pact with “the communists”. When making reference to the concerns over terrorism, the Prime Minister stressed that there was no difference whatsoever between the crime at a national or an international level. His declared policy on the subject remains consistent: determination not to give in to blackmail. After describing as “worrying” the fact that there are political parties in Spain who believe that the international response should be to give the terrorists free rein, Aznar also condemned those who opportunely attempted to make political capital out of any misfortune by asking the government in power to change their firm policies in order to pacify the terrorists. The Prime Minister chose this moment to pay homage to the Spanish Captain Manuel Martín Oar, who was killed in the terrorist attack last week on the United Nations offices in Baghdad. He described the murders as an attempt to undermine the freedom of the Iraqi people. Following further declaration on the state of affairs with regard to the Basque separatist groups, Aznar confirmed his belief that the personal interests of party leaders should come secondary to the interests of Spain, secondary to the institution of democracy and secondary to the needs of their party. He finalised on a positive note by highlighting the recent economic success of Spain compared to the recession being suffered by other European Union members and asked for support in keeping within stable budgeted boundaries. Aznar, holidaying in Minorca for the last time as Prime Minister, and his wife Ana Botella, were last night dining with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.

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