Spain’s king warns of hard times to come

December 14th, 2011 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Dec 14 (IANS/EFE) Spain’s King Juan Carlos said Tuesday that his country is facing “very hard times”, calling on Spaniards to “win the battle” against high unemployment and consolidate “the definitive victory” over terrorism.

The monarch made his comment in a toast during a farewell luncheon at the Royal Palace for the outgoing Socialist government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who thanked the king for his commitment to Spain and for working in the “general interest of its citizens”.

King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia hosted the event along with Crown Prince Felipe and his wife, Princess Letizia.

In his words of farewell to Zapatero and his Cabinet, the king thanked all of them for the time they have dedicated to a “difficult task” and asked that in the future they not fail to do their best for the common good.

After pledging them the crown’s total support, Juan Carlos concluded his brief address with his best wishes for the outgoing members of the government and their families in the new stage in life that lies before them.

The new prime minister, Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party (PP), takes office next week. The PP won a sweeping victory at the polls last month amid widespread discontent over a jobless rate of 21.5 percent.

Though 2011 has brought mainly bad news for Spain on the economic front, one bright spot was the announcement in October by the Basque terrorist group ETA that it was abandoning the armed struggle.

ETA has killed nearly 900 people since 1968 in its campaign to create an independent Basque state in parts of northern Spain and southwestern France.


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