Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Miguel Angel Asturias: 1899-1974: Writer to Don Berrysmith Biography - Grew up in the Pacific Northwest » Jose Maria Aznar: 1953—: Prime Minister of Spain Biography - Entered Conservative Politics, Assumed National Political Role, Steered Spain To Success, Tormented By Terrorism

Jose Maria Aznar: 1953—: Prime Minister of Spain - Tormented By Terrorism

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However, Aznar's tenure has not been without problems. The biggest of those being ongoing terrorism by a group of separatists from the Basque region of Spain, near the French border. The group, operating under the acronym ETA, uses bombings and assassinations as the means of obtaining their goal—secession from Spain or at the least regional autonomy. Excluding a 15 month ceasefire, ETA has been very active during Aznar's rule. One week in July of 2000 there were three separate bombings—in the Basque region and in the capital of Madrid. Businessmen, politicians, and military leaders have all been murdered by ETA during Aznar's first term. In 1999, during the ceasefire, Aznar's government opened up talks with ETA's political wing for the first time in ten years. The dialogue ended in a stalemate. The separatists continued to demand a referendum on what they call "self-determination" while Aznar clung unwaveringly to the Spanish constitution, which declares that Spain remain whole.

As Aznar entered his second term, ETA's commitment to terrorism showed no sign of stopping. Aznar refused to commence new dialogues until all violence stopped and has pursued military means to fight the terrorists. Some critics complained that this refusal to negotiate with ETA or their political wing is a mistake. Aznar remained unmoved. Without delving into specifics, Aznar told Larry King during a November 2001 taping of Larry King Live, "I must point out that terrorists will be eradicated. And terrorists will be brought to justice before the courts."

Shortly into Aznar's second term as prime minister, Spain will assume the presidency of the European Union. The high profile position will allow Aznar the chance to further Spain's prominence in the EU and implement changes he sees as necessary for the success of the EU. These include the improvement of the infrastructure of transport between member nations—especially rail and air travel; the opening of energy markets for member countries; the full integration of the EU's various financial markets; free movement of labor, allowing workers greater mobility and support to work in other member nations; and a standardized educational system across the borders. These are lofty goals for the burgeoning Union and in pursuing them Aznar will face stiff opposition from other member states. Yet for the former taxman who—against all odds—brought conservatism and fiscal responsibility back to Spain, they may just be obtainable.


Sources

Periodicals


The Economist, February 3, 1996, p44; December 5, 1998, p62; March 11, 2000, p23; August 12, 2000, p45; June 30, 2001, p4.

Europe, May 2000, p22; December 2001, p28.


On-line


http://www.cnn.com/resources/newsmakers/world/europe /aznar.html

Eurowatch, April 15, 1996, http://www.csis.oirg/html/euro 1.html

www.la-moncloa.es

Transcript of Larry King Live interview, November 2001, http://www.spainemb.org/novedades/Aznar/cnnb. htm

www.spainview.com/Aznar.html

—Candace LaBalle

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