President of the Spanish Government

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 31 January 1984

Mr President, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, first of all, I should like to thank this Assembly for the opportunity you have given me to speak to you in my capacity as Head of the Spanish Government. It gives me great honour and satisfaction to address the oldest of all European institutions, which represents twenty-one countries and nearly 400 million citizens and which has worked so hard on behalf of ever-closer unity among the European peoples.

Allow me now to remind you for a moment of how moved I felt when I spoke to you on 11 October 1977, from this very same tribune, accompanied by other representatives of the Spanish people that had been elected in the first elections to take place in Spain after a forty-year absence of freedom. At that time, your Assembly generously listened to us and had the vision to recommend Spain’s immediate accession to the Council of Europe, thereby demonstrating your confidence in our democratic profession of faith.

If the Council of Europe had confidence in Spain and its representatives at that time, we for our part never lost confidence in the role played by the Council in the building of Europe and in its contribution to Spain’s full integration into the European family of nations.

In this connection, I should like to remind you that I am merely following the precedent laid down when you welcomed the King of Spain some time ago, and, slightly earlier, the first President of the government of the new democracy.

During the six years that have elapsed since our entry, many things have happened in Spain, in Europe and in the world. Insofar as Spain is concerned, the people have, through the Constitution and the laws enacted under it, laid the foundations of peaceful coexistence in freedom; with the amnesty, we have relegated to the past many things that we wished to forget; and with the statutes of autonomy we have started out along the path of a new type of state organization more attuned to the aspirations of the peoples who are part of it.

Finally, the Spanish people, by voting for change a year ago, with full responsibility and in freedom, made possible the orderly alternation of political factions, which constitutes the best example of the strength and vitality of our political system. In this way, a new phase of the democratic process in Spain has begun, with new expectations and new hopes.

In this new phase of Spain’s political process, the present government have as basic goal compliance with the clearly expressed wishes of the Spanish people. We have committed ourselves to the daily task of consolidating the democratic way of life, as well as to promoting the modernisation of society, that is so greatly desired by the people. Prudently but firmly, the government that I head is carrying out this policy, feeling that it is backed by the majority of the Spanish people and also encouraged by a widespread desire for change and improvement, that goes well beyond the bounds of its own electorate.

Our resolute will to become a member of Europe constitutes part of this historic project of the modernisation of Spain. In this, we are merely reaffirming and updating our European identity, that is perfectly compatible with Spain’s Mediterranean and Latin American spheres of interest. Sometimes we feel that our trust in Europe’s destiny is greater than that of other countries which are already members of the European institutions.

Just over six years ago, on regaining democracy, Spain submitted its application to the Council of Europe and the European Communities. With your help, becoming a member of the Council of Europe was a matter of months. Accession to the European Communities is, as we all know, a much more complicated matter. We have been negotiating since 1979. As far as the Spanish Government is concerned, we are as determined as on the first day, but we cannot hide the fact that there is not the same enthusiasm among the Spanish people as six years ago. We shall continue to work as earnestly as before in order to overcome the obstacles that are still in the way of our entity into the Communities. I am confident that the year 1984 will be decisive in this undertaking, and that accession may take place on 1 January 1986.

We are aware that, to the intrinsic difficulties involved in a process of this type, is now added the seriousness of the crisis that we are now experiencing. It is a European crisis, a world crisis, an economic crisis, but also a crisis, or a loss, of confidence. We should not underestimate the tensions and the conflicts that now surround us. In today’s world, men struggle not only in order to shape the future; they are struggling to ensure that there will in fact be a future.

In the midst of this crisis in our civilisation, Europe is simply struggling to be itself, and to have something to say in world affairs. As President Sandro Pertini so aptly said here: “From being an ideal, Europe has now become an imperious need.”

Mr President, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, Europe exists; the problem is how to achieve European unity. On this path, along which we are still groping, the European institutions play a leading role in a pluralistic and dynamic process. I am convinced that it would be useless to enter into pointless arguments about the respective competences of the Council of Europe and the European Communities. The important thing is that both institutions should work together in a close relationship, that functions properly, in which they complement each other and, above all, in which they have as their common goal the wellbeing of Europeans and the affirmation of Europe’s identity.

Within this framework, the role of the Council of Europe insofar as it is an institution representative of the great democratic Europe must be pointed out. You are the collective conscience of the European peoples. Spaniards are well aware of the value of this voice of conscience for those who yearn for freedom. This is the Council of Europe’s proper and irreplaceable role, which will even be reinforced with the passing of time.

In my opinion, the entire mission of the Council of Europe could be summarised in a single phrase: the guarantee, the defence and the promotion of freedom and democracy. These goals are also those which inspire the Spanish Government. Allow me to touch briefly on each facet of this mission.

Everyone knows that the cornerstone of the Council of Europe lies in its effort to collectively guarantee freedom and democracy. In this, as in so many things, the Council of Europe has been a pioneer. Even its Statute limits membership to those European states that are founded on human rights and the democratic system. Subsequently, the Council of Europe evolved into the most complete system of international protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including not only the European Convention on Human Rights, but also documents such as the European Social Charter and the European Convention on the Legal Status of Migrant Workers.

Insofar as Spain is concerned, both our Constitution and the laws enacted under it have drawn their inspiration–at times very directly–from these European documents. At the same time, we have made a great effort to ratify all the instruments and fully assume the obligations inherent in their respective control mechanisms.

As far as I can see, the danger threatening us here is that of self-complacency. In order to avoid it, we must remain constantly vigilant in our own countries, as well as here, in order to make up for any weakness or insufficiency. Within the Council of Europe, I think that the time has come to complete the system, giving all the attention they deserve to basic human rights in the economic, social and cultural fields, as well as to foreigners’ rights–especially those of migrant workers–in order to promote equal treatment, not to mention the struggle against racism and xenophobia.

We must attempt to do all this in such a way that the existing mechanisms for protection, which in a sense are the victims of their own success, are not overburdened. Thus, special attention must be paid to strengthening them and to accelerating procedures.

In carrying out lasting improvements in the system guaranteeing human rights in Europe, the countries of the Council of Europe will acquire more credibility than ever before with a view to promoting respect for human rights all over the world. I am thinking in particular of the work being done by our countries within the framework of the United Nations specialised agencies in the fight against infamies such as torture, people’s forced disappearance and child labour.

If freedom and democracy are to be guaranteed, they must also be defended. We must not forget that democracy is, unfortunately, still an exception in our world. And, precisely because our countries are free and open, they are especially vulnerable to attack by those who take advantage of this freedom in order to strike at democracy. There is no greater assault against freedom and democracy, from wherever it may come, than violence–irrespective of its political trappings. Spain is very familiar with threats to freedom. Because we regained our own freedom only a short time ago, we are very attached to it, and during this brief space of time we have had to face up to attacks from both extremes.

Like Octavio Paz, I believe we must not give way to cowardice; we must defend democracy and not only guarantee its survival but foster its development.

The Council of Europe has also been particularly conscious of this threat and has responded to it, as is demonstrated by the adoption in 1977 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, ratified by thirteen states, of which Spain is one. Unfortunately, this has not been enough, as acknowledged by this Assembly when it convened the Parliamentary Conference on the Defence of Democracy against Terrorism in Europe in 1980.

Your Assembly, echoing the concern felt by the European peoples, has repeated on several occasions that greater European co-operation is necessary in the fight against terrorism. Let us not forget that any attack against the democratic institutions of one of our countries is also an attack against the democratic system as a whole. Let no one think that he can escape this scourge by avoiding the issue. This short-sighted selfishness will not ultimately save him from the blows of terrorist violence. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the democratic countries of Western Europe respond to this threat through firm, concerted and joint action. (Applause)

You, the representatives of the European peoples, have already stated your position. It is now up to the governments to meet the challenge. A partial, timid or purely technical response will not be enough. This phenomenon requires collective reflection at the highest political level. The Spanish Government, for its part, is ready and willing, as I have told different heads of state and government in Europe, and I will continue to do so.

I have every intention of continuing to insist on the need for such reflection until everyone is profoundly convinced.

In the final analysis, the best way to guarantee and defend democracy is to promote it, broaden it and consolidate it continuously. This means that democracy must imbue all facets of the social fabric. Democracy does not merely consist of voting for a parliament and a government every four or five years, although this is certainly of the utmost importance. Democracy is a way of life that makes its presence felt in schools and the university, in civic and professional associations, in places of work, in the towns and in the provinces. In short, it means achieving full citizen participation in the life of the community.

I should like in this connection to refer to two areas in which the activities of the Council of Europe have been particularly notable and which are also of special interest to our country. First, local democracy, the historic foundation of all democracy. As in so many other areas, the Council of Europe blazed a new trail in promoting dialogue among the European cities and regions through the convening of the Standing Conference of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe.

Spain, which is intensely involved in the process of setting up local and regional autonomous communities, is an active participant in the work of the Council of Europe in this field. More specifically, we are interested in the European Charter of Local Autonomy becoming soon a reality.

It has been said that freedom and democracy exist mainly in men’s minds. It is therefore not surprising that the Council of Europe has made a special effort to promote education and culture, as well as the role played in this field by the media. The overcoming of “élitism” has led the Council of Europe to promote notions such as “cultural democracy” and “sport for all”, which have had a great influence in all of our countries. We can only encourage the Council to persevere along these lines, and try to make sure that its work in this field is not limited to bringing together experts or specialists, but rather that those who produce culture and are involved in all its forms may be called upon to play an active part.

Finally, we must not forget that the future of democracy lies with youth. If young people cannot find the answers to their problems, their anxieties and their aspirations in the democratic system, we run the very grave risk that they will seek other alternatives. I am especially concerned by the fact that, in these times of economic crisis, many young people on leaving school are unable to find employment. They cannot find a place in society. It is estimated that there are now between 8 and 9 million young people out of work in the member countries of the Council of Europe. This is not only an economic and social problem, but also a political problem of the greatest magnitude. We cannot afford to remain indifferent to it.

I recently received a letter from a youth trade union organisation proposing that European governments meet to deal jointly with the problem of youth unemployment, and also attempt jointly to find solutions. This is a challenge facing us just one year before International Youth Year. For my part, I am willing to back up this suggestion and support the holding of a European intergovernmental conference on youth unemployment, which could be planned with the participation of the Council of Europe and other European institutions concerned.

Mr President, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, Europe’s position in the world has changed radically since the second world war. From being a nerve centre of international relations, Europe has become the theatre for the rivalries between the two superpowers. In the decades following the second world war, this process was completed by the progressive emancipation of the peoples of the Third World who, up till then, had suffered colonial domination by various European countries.

All this meant, as pointed out by Toynbee, that, following the “Eurocentrism” that had prevailed until the early part of this century, the focus of history became worldwide. Europeans have had to adjust their actions to an authentic Copernican revolution in international relations. This is the profound significance of the long march towards European integration as the only way to adequately meet the challenge that the new circumstances present for Europe’s survival as an actor on the stage of international politics.

It is essential to understand–and not everybody does–that European unity cannot only be forged from the outside in but that this must also be done from the inside out. Europe’s historic identity has precisely consisted of reaching out towards the world. Europe has never been an “Empire of the middle”, closed and self-sufficient, like ancient China. Any attempt to build a selfish and introverted Europe, apart from not serving the true interests of Europeans, would irrevocably be doomed to failure.

However, it must be acknowledged that up till now efforts aimed at building Europe have not taken this fact sufficiently into account, perhaps because it was thought essential during the first stage to place emphasis on the strengthening of ties among the European countries. Perhaps too, the withdrawal reaction after the fall of an empire, which we Spaniards have experienced during the course of our own history, has also been a factor. The fact is that Europe today continues to a large extent to be obsessed by its own problems. This is something that it is necessary and urgent to overcome.

This goal cannot be achieved by each European country acting in isolation. Separately, we do not have sufficient capacity to undertake such a major project. Each one of us can contribute our experience, our relations, or a particular interest in one geographical area or another. But only by working together shall we be able to carry out the rebuilding of relations between Europe and the rest of the world.

In this task, the role to be played by the European institutions – both the Communities and the Council of Europe – must be defined. With regard to the Council, it must be acknowledged that despite the efforts by some members, both in the Assembly and on the Committee of Ministers, there has not been sufficient involvement in this respect. Nevertheless, the Council of Europe has obvious potential. In the first place, because it is composed of twenty-one states from northern, southern, central and peripheral Europe, as well as Atlantic, neutral and non- aligned states, but also because the Council of Europe’s main raison d’être is that of defending and promoting human rights and democracy. This is its banner cry and its mission, and this must also be the message to be carried persuasively by Europeans to all the comers of the earth.

In discussing Europe’s relationship with the rest of the world, let us look around us. The first thing we see is that today’s Europe is incomplete; it is an amputated Europe. This forms part of the political realities that emerged after the second world war. We must accept it as such, but nevertheless we cannot feel satisfied. Therefore, in the face of all difficulties we must keep open the channels for dialogue and co-operation which have been so laboriously set up over the past few years. In this connection, we did our utmost to contribute towards the success of the Madrid meeting of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe. Now, the opening of the Conference on Security and Confidence building Measures and Disarmament in Europe in Stockholm gives us cause for hope that the channels of communication will indeed remain open and, furthermore, that effective measures will be adopted for increasing the confidence and security of which all the European peoples are in such great need.

The Council of Europe also has a role in this task, as your Assembly has well understood, in keeping the situation in non-member countries and our relations with them constantly under study. I think that, with a little imagination, it will be possible to promote pragmatic and flexible mechanisms in order that the non-member European states – of which I particularly have in mind Finland and Yugoslavia – may participate more actively in specific activities of our organisation.

The second area of interest consists of the other countries which, together with ours, are members of OECD: that is, the rest of the industrialised market-economy states which share our way of life and political organisation. I believe that all of us are affected, although to differing degrees, by the consequences of the economic crisis and–looking ahead–will all have to meet the challenges of the post-industrial society. It seems to me extremely important that we seek to establish co-ordination with them in the basic areas of our social organisation. The Strasbourg Conference convened by your Assembly a few months ago, with the foresight so often characterising it, was aimed at this goal. Here I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the chief promoter of this idea, your predecessor in the presidency, Mr President, and my fellow countryman, Mr José Maria de Areilza.

While these tasks are important, none of them can replace that of bringing about a rapprochement between Western Europe and what is conventionally called the Third World. This is a vast collection of countries, very different from one another, in which two-thirds of the world’s population live. They are areas of the world over which Europe formerly held ascendancy or maintained direct rule. Following the timely ending of colonialism, Europe must find new ways to approach these countries, because these peoples also need us. They seek our presence in order not to find themselves locked in the dialectics of bipolarity.

I am sure you will understand that, from among the varied collection of Third World countries, a Spaniard such as myself would want to make a special reference to Latin America or, as we call it, Ibero-america. In the same way that we feel very close to that continent, I trust that America also means for you the “name of a human hope”, as Alfonso Reyes called it.

Unfortunately, Latin America today is overwhelmed by problems that exceed its ability to solve them without outside help. It is enough to mention the uncontrolled population growth, the stranglehold of the foreign debt and the struggle to find peaceful and democratic solutions to authoritarian regimes.

In particular, tension and violence in Central America continue to be a constant threat to peace. Spain has unreservedly supported the efforts of the Contadora group in seeking a negotiated political settlement to the crisis in the region. Europe cannot remain aloof from this situation; it must make its voice heard and provide concrete aid in order to help these peoples emerge from the suffering in which they are plunged. (Applause)

On the other hand, there is hope from the southern end of the continent. In recent months, a country as important as Argentina has peacefully regained democracy. We trust that other Latin American countries, especially in the southern cone, will soon follow its lead.

Europe must show its solidarity with the Latin American peoples in their struggle for freedom, democracy and socio-economic development. It is important for Latin America that Europe knows about its problems. I should like it, for example, if representatives of the democratic parties of Latin America, from both governments and oppositions, were to come to this Assembly or to the European Parliament in order to express their desires and aspirations, directly and without intermediaries. The Assembly should perhaps also send a mission to Latin America to get to grips with the reality of the situation. This should be the first step. It should be followed by others, chiefly consisting of a greater effort on the part of Europe, not only in condemning dictatorships but also in effectively aiding democracies.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, on the threshold of the year 1984, made famous by the title of George Orwell’s well-known novel, a kind of fatalistic pessimism seems to pervade our societies. Many can already visualise in our midst this dehumanised and soulless world, dominated by omnipresent technology wielded by absolute power–or even the threat of total destruction as a result of upsetting what is significantly called the “balance of terror”.

However, I believe that Orwell was not making a prophecy in his book; he was warning us, using a parable in which he depicts a nightmare from which he wants us to keep away at all costs.

For my part, I wish to reaffirm here my faith and confidence in man and in his ability to build a better world. It falls to us to develop a truly free and prosperous Europe, where technological progress will be used for the benefit of all, in a spirit of brotherhood and solidarity. The Council of Europe is working towards this goal. In accomplishing its noble task, it can count on our eager participation. Thank you very much, Mr President. (Loud applause)

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Mr President, I thank you most sincerely, on behalf of all my colleagues, for your highly interesting and constructively forward-looking statement.

I think that my colleagues are eager to hear your replies to their questions. We now come to those parliamentary questions for oral answer. I would like to remind you that answers will be given only to questions from members who are present.

There are twenty-two written questions which, as you will have seen, are reproduced in Document 5174. Some of these questions relate to more or less the same subject and they have been put together accordingly. I shall invite the President of the Spanish Government to deal with them as a group.

Members who have asked a question on a particular theme are normally allowed to ask a supplementary question. However, owing to lack of time, such supplementary questions cannot be accepted, since we are compelled to close the sitting at 1 p.m.

For reasons of time also, it may not be possible to call certain questions. The President may be able to give direct written replies to the authors of such questions.

We shall now deal with the group of questions concerning Central America, which will be taken together. Questions Nos. 1 and 2 have been asked by Mrs af Ugglas and by Mrs Aasen and read as follows:

“Question No. 1:

Mrs af Ugglas,

In view of the fact that developments in Central America give rise to great concern,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what member states of the Council of Europe can do to promote a democratic and pluralistic development in this region.

Question No. 2:

Mrs Aasen

To ask the President of the Spanish Government in which way Europe can support the Contadora group in its work towards political rather than military solutions to the conflicts in Central America.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Thank you, Mr President, thank you, Mrs af Ugglas and Mrs Aasen. In my speech I mentioned one possible initiative relating to Central America.

I would like to add something to what I said. The Contadora group is pursuing an effort aimed exclusively at achieving peace and seeking a political solution. Elsewhere the possibility of a non-political settlement is envisaged. I believe that Europe’s role lies precisely in excluding any non-political or non-peaceful settlement, and that was my reason for suggesting – and I repeat my suggestion here – that this Assembly should send a small mission (or invite one, but the former would no doubt be of greater value) to visit the four Contadora countries and the Central American countries affected by the conflict. Then, on the basis of the information it gathers and in the light of the economic and political dimensions – the real dimensions of Central America’s problems – the Contadora group’s efforts should be given deliberate, sustained support.

North America has one view of Central America which is logical from the geo-political point of view, and the Contadora group has another view. The European view which the Council of Europe could develop would, I believe, be of great importance for peace and the political solution of the problems of Central America.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. We now come to Question No. 3 put by Mr Lagorce, concerning the European Economic Community and trade links between Spain and Latin America, which reads as follows:

“Mr Lagorce,

Knowing and appreciating Spain’s privileged relations with the countries of Latin America, which are of a commercial as well as of a cultural nature,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government how, with a view to Spain’s entry into the Common Market, his country intends to reconcile these traditional commercial ties–perhaps after taking some painful decisions–with the rule of Community preference, with which it will in theory have to comply.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. My answer to Mr Lagorce is the following. Firstly, I would like to say that, unfortunately, our trade relations with the Latin American continent are very limited. Entry into the Common Market will not therefore mean any great change in the flow of imports and exports between Spain and Latin America. Apart from oil, trade with Latin America accounts for 6% of Spain’s exports, whereas trade with Europe accounts for more than 50%. Indeed, I should prefer it to present a serious problem, since that would mean that Spain had more extensive relations with Latin America than is the case.

I would however like to say that we would welcome efforts in this direction. The Community is in fact forging closer ties with the Andean Pact countries. While respecting our Community commitments once we join, we would not like that to be interpreted as discriminating against the Latin American continent, which I believe deserves to be treated in the same way as other areas where there are similar historical links with other strong countries in the European Community.

Firstly, then, this disturbing volume of trade does not exist–although Spain would certainly like it to. Secondly, we shall abide by the rules of Community membership. Thirdly, we shall invite all of Europe, as I have done here, not only not to discriminate against Latin America as compared with other countries or parts of the world, but also to make much more positive efforts towards co-operation.


Thank you, Mr President. We now come to the group of questions concerning terrorism, which will be taken together. The questions have been asked by Mr Kirkpatrick (No. 4), Mr Guerra (No. 5) and Mr Beix (No. 6) and are worded as follows:

“Question No. 4:

Mr Kirkpatrick

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what is his position concerning the publicity afforded to terrorism in some European democratic countries when the state-owned media show terrorist plans accomplished against prominent personalities?

Question No. 5:

Mr Guerra,

Given the main features of terrorism in Spain, which are a matter of concern to both the government and the opposition, and bearing in mind the ETA terrorist group’s obvious proximity to the Franco- Spanish frontier and the fact that members of the organisation live in France,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he considers, after his talks with the President of the French Republic, Mr Mitterrand, that the French Government will be prepared to co-operate with the Spanish Government in putting an end to terrorism and refrain from granting so-called political asylum to leaders of this terrorist organisation?

Question No. 6:

Mr Beix,

Considering that European public opinion is always alarmed at the terrorist crimes committed in the Basque country in both France and Spain;

Noting that there seem to be moves towards closer co-operation between the French and Spanish Governments in combating Basque terrorism,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he can confirm this progress in Franco-Spanish co-operation.

Having been informed that part of the politico- military ETA, realising that nothing is to be gained from terrorist acts, would be prepared to engage in a process of rehabilitation with all the legal and political consequences that would entail,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he can enlighten the Assembly on ETA’s intentions.”

I should point out that an error has crept into the last line of Question No. 6 by Mr Beix, which should read as follows:

“To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he can provide the Assembly with any information he has on this subject.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Please forgive me, but these questions, although they belong together, deal with different aspects of the same subject. I will therefore answer them as a group, but will try to give them separate answers.

The first question concerns a very serious problem, that of the publicity given to terrorism in a number of the countries of democratic Europe, where the national media show terrorist outrages against leading figures. I suspect that the question also contains a judgment of the media in Spain.

I would like to say that, in my opinion, the publicity given to terrorism for its own sake is in itself one of the terrorists’ weapons. As you all well know, terrorism is unlike any other offence in that, in the mind of the terrorist, the purpose behind an act of killing is not merely to kill someone or to make a person suffer, but rather, by doing so, to create a general climate of terror. The only way to create that general climate of terror is to publicise the act. This places us in a contradictory situation which the authorities in each state can merely observe. I mean, here, the contradiction between this intractable phenomenon and the freedom of the press, which must be not only respected but also positively encouraged. Where is the border-line which must not be overstepped?

Publicity, in the strict sense of the word, creating awareness in a free and democratic society for all, including the media, is one thing. Justifying terrorism or any other crime is a very different matter. It is covered by criminal legislation and it is therefore for the courts to judge or punish it.

Question No. 5 refers to a constant problem, or at least a recurring one, in our relations with France as neighbouring states. I think I can assure this Assembly – and I do so with legitimate satisfaction – that co-operation between Spain and France is now moving in a direction that will eradicate the phenomenon of violence. As I have already said here, it would be impossible to pretend that its consequences stop at the frontier of a democratic state and do not extend beyond that frontier. Thus, with all the circumspection which the matter demands, but with my own conviction, I would like to repeat my desire and my hope to see co-operation between Spain and France – and also wider co-operation – grow and develop in the fight against terrorism.

Mr Beix also makes comments on terrorism which are fairly close to my own feelings; he points out that acts of violence and terrorism are being committed on both sides of the Pyrenees – in Southern France as well as in Spain. As I have already said, I believe that cooperation is not only increasing but that it needs to develop in all its forms, and that one part of the so-called politico-military wing of the ETA terrorist organisation, realising the sterility of acts of terrorism, would be prepared to follow a process, let us say, of integration into normal democratic life. I can tell you what the attitude of the Spanish Government is to this. Faced with the terrorist phenomenon, the Spanish Government distinguishes the attitude of those who, having committed no acts of bloodshed and having therefore no serious offences to answer for before the courts, may have the serious, genuine intention of becoming normal citizens. The previous government indeed took steps to make terrorist groups understand that terrorism was a dead end, contrary to the defence of political ideas in a democratic and constitutional framework such as our own. The democratic path is always open, with all the necessary precautions, since their integration must be genuinely sincere.

I should perhaps remind the Assembly that Spain, after adopting its new Constitution and holding its first elections, released all its political prisoners, including terrorists. It is obvious that the terrorist organisations did not interpret this as a political message, since they have continued to perpetrate acts of terrorism. But I would also like to say that the Spanish Government will not be guilty of the intellectual cowardice denounced by Octavio Paz. It has taken us many long years and much effort to attain our freedoms, and we will not let ourselves be deprived of them by a band of sectarians trying to force their ideology of terror upon us.

While showing understanding to those who want to be reintegrated, but through the machinery of justice, I nevertheless feel it is important to stress that, as President of the Spanish Government, it is my profound conviction that we must not only guarantee democracy but defend it; we must also defend it in order to promote it.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 7, put by Mr Cox, on extradition procedures between Spain and the United Kingdom. The question reads as follows:

“Mr Cox

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what plans he has to agree on an extradition treaty between Spain and the United Kingdom for people wanted by the police in the United Kingdom.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. I am glad this question has been raised, since it gives me the opportunity to explain two points to the Assembly.

The first point is that, in 1978, Spain denounced the bilateral convention on extradition with the United Kingdom which had been in existence for a century.

The second point is that, in 1982, Spain ratified the European Convention on Extradition of 1957 drawn up by the Council of Europe.

I would like to say to Mr Cox that the British Parliament could consider the United Kingdom’s ratifying this convention, which would solve the problem of extraditions not only bilaterally but also multilaterally, as recommended by the Council and the Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. We now come to Question No. 8 put by Mr Bassinet, concerning relations between the Council of Europe and the European Communities. It reads as follows:

“Mr Bassinet,

Noting the interest aroused in France and in Europe by Spain’s European policy, wishing to gain a clearer understanding of its specific approach to the Europe of the Twenty-one as distinct from that of the Ten,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government to state his views on:

– the political future of the Europe of the Twenty-one at a time when greater political co-operation is being sought within the Community;

– the possibility of real complementarity between the Parliamentary Assembly of the Twenty-one and that of the Communities at a time when the latter is venturing into spheres that used to be outside its scope, pleading explicitly or implicitly the legitimacy conferred by direct elections.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Once again, this is a complex question which affects the very essence of this Assembly – the relationship between the Europe of the Ten (and soon I hope of the Twelve) and the Europe of the Twenty-one, of us all. This Assembly is better acquainted with that complex relationship than I am. I am not in a position to say how the relationship between the Assembly of the Twenty-one and the European Parliament should be established, since that is within the competence of this forum; any statement on my part would therefore be presumptuous. However, I can make one comment. It is obvious that, since the governments – and this is in no sense meant to be hostile – will not allow the Parliament of the Ten to exercise greater powers in its own particular fields, the European Parliament will tend to encroach, perhaps unintentionally, on certain areas within the competence of the Assembly of the Twenty-one. It will be a difficult relationship calling for flexibility.

I do not believe that the one can be substituted for the other. Not only are some of the countries represented here not members of the Community; some of them have no desire to be members. Moreover, Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, the areas of responsibility are not so difficult to establish. I have tried to describe the outward looking part which Greater Europe could play. Human rights and culture are no doubt essential vehicles for communication between Europe and other countries; they also complement an economic effort whose main lines could be traced out by this Assembly.

I am sorry that I am not able to answer the question on the relationship between the Parliamentary Assembly of the Twenty-one and that of the Communities. I believe it is a very important problem and this forum is no doubt in a better position than I am to give an answer.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 9 put by Sir John Osborn, on the trade balance and customs duties in Spain. It is worded as follows:

“Sir John Osborn

To ask the President of the Spanish Government:

– What is now the balance of payments position in Spain, and whether he will indicate the value of imports and exports, including the value of its tourist trade;

– What are the forecasts for Spain’s balance of payments for the next few years, bearing in mind the high level of import tariffs on automobiles, automobile products, steel, forging and engineers’ tools by comparison with tariffs raised by Great Britain and EEC countries on similar products manufactured in, and exported from, Spain.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

I am very pleased to answer Sir John on this question. Firstly, I would like to make it clear, although this is a very technical question, that unfortunately for us our trade with Great Britain still leaves us in a deficit position. The balance, so to speak, is therefore in Great Britain’s favour.

Secondly, Spain is complying scrupulously with the 1970 agreements.

Thirdly, in the past year, Spain has tried unilaterally to ease some of the difficulties encountered with a number of members of the Community, particularly Great Britain, in respect of some of the products with which Sir John is concerned but, as I say, this was unilateral and beyond the scope of the 1970 treaty.

Lastly, Spain’s membership of the Community, naturally assuming a balanced transitional period without discrimination against our country – about which we expect the members of the Community to be understanding – will obviously bring about an adaptation to the European Economic Community system; as a result, the matters which cause anxiety to Sir John will tend to disappear.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 10 put by Mr Valleix, concerning the possibility of Spain joining Western European Union. This question is worded as follows:

“Mr Valleix,

Noting that the Western European Union is, by virtue of the treaty on which it is based, the only

European organisation competent to deal with defence and security matters;

Emphasising that the European Community, which Spain wishes to join, is not competent to deal with such matters,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether, after Spain’s entry into the Atlantic Alliance and at a time when Europe is thinking more actively about its own defence, the Spanish Government is considering the possibility of joining WEU in the not- too-distant future.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

This question is preceded by a comment which I find interesting, but which I cannot deal with for lack of time and out of respect for this Assembly.

Spain has not defined its position as regards WEU although, as you know, it participates as an observer state. If I may nevertheless interpret the general feeling of our people, I would say that we would quite positively like to be able to think of it as a European organisation. I would not like to introduce here any element of separation, which I feel is impossible with defence structures and systems as they are at present.

We feel, however that it would be a good thing, and public opinion would be much more favourable, if the European countries came more closely together to deal with the problems of Europe’s collective defense. Our attitude therefore would in principle be a positive one in that direction. Spain is at present considering the nature of its contribution to the common security arrangements and, naturally, this problem is part of the issues which I hope will be resolved during the present government’s term of office.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 11, tabled by Mr Cuatrecasas, on the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Cooperation between Territorial Communities or Authorities. This question reads as follows:

“Mr Cuatrecasas,

Considering Spain’s clear willingness to give its full support to the work of the Council of Europe, which finds its highest expression in the European conventions,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government when he plans to institute the constitutional procedure which will enable Spain to ratify the European Outline Convention on Transfrontier Co-operation between Territorial Communities or Authorities of 21 May 1980.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Thank you for your question. At the same time, I would like to announce a pleasant surprise for my fellow-Spaniards represented in the Assembly: this question was put to the Cabinet a few weeks ago. That is the first part of my answer.

But, in fact, we are already working on our frontier areas. Projects and studies have begun not only in the Pyrenees, which is so important for our relations with France, but also on the Portuguese side, where we have been considering the areas in which systems of communication and co-operation could prove worthwhile. This will be studied next week by the Cabinet, and we will then be in a position to begin the ratification stage.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 12 on Cyprus, put by Mr Anastassakos, and worded as follows:

“Mr Anastassakos,

Pointing out that on 15 November 1983 the leaders of the Turkish Cypriot community made an illegal unilateral declaration of independence in North Cyprus with the support of Turkey’s military junta;

Given that this action violated the rights of sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, a member state of the Council of Europe;

Noting that the declaration in question has been condemned by the entire international community with the sole exception of Turkey,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government how his country and other European countries can effectively help bring about a repeal of the illegal declaration and an immediate withdrawal of Turkish occupying troops from North Cyprus, in the interests of finding a definitive, fair and lasting solution to the Cypriot problem.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

Thank you, Mr President. There can be no doubt that we are all aware of the extraordinary difficulty of this question, which I have no intention of evading. Firstly, the Spanish Government has not accepted this state of affairs or, if you prefer, has condemned it. Secondly, it has adopted the same position as the Parliamentary Assembly and all the international organisations.

However, this answer will not satisfy the person who has put the question to me; I myself regard it as a necessary answer, but an unsatisfactory one, and we must also take account of certain other initiatives which have been taken in European and non-European countries; faced with a given situation, we must always respect the rules of international conduct and never attempt to find a solution by going outside the proper political channels, which must remain our only recourse.

I am, and always will be, opposed to secession- ism, particularly by any member of this Assembly, but also at world level. I hope that all the members of the Assembly will understand this.

With your permission, however, I shall make one more comment. I am not completely familiar with the question but I believe that, in the medium and long term, only mutual understanding and dialogue between the communities can provide an answer. It is hard to imagine that any outside solution could be imposed on either community. From the outside, we can all help to create an atmosphere conducive to dialogue and understanding between the communities, thus preserving this valued country from frustration, isolation and potential or actual confrontation from which everyone would suffer.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We shall now deal with Questions Nos. 13 to 21 concerning the Middle East and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and Israel. These questions will be taken together. These questions have been tabled by Mr Thoss, Mr Cox, Mr Kindle and Mr Oehri, Mr Reddemann, Mr Alder, Mr van der Werff, Mr Berrier, Mr Oliver J. Flanagan, Sir Anthony Grant and Mr Jessel. They are worded as follows:

“Question No. 13:

Mr Thoss,

Noting that Spain is one of the last, if not the only, remaining country in Western Europe not to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Israel,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what the Spanish Government’s intentions are in this connection.

Question No. 14:

Mr Cox

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he can give an exact date when Spain intends to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Question No. 15:

Mr Kindle and Mr Oehri,

Considering the state of relations between the European countries and the Near East and referring to similar questions by Mr Lien and Mr Bozzi during the Assembly session in January 1979 to the then Spanish Prime Minister,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government:

a. What his opinion is regarding the present state of relations between the European countries and those of the Near East;

b. Whether the Government of Spain envisages establishing diplomatic relations with Israel.

Question No. 16:

Mr Reddemann

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what are the reasons for the Spanish Government’s not having established diplomatic relations with Israel more than seven years after the end of the dictatorship.

Question No. 17:

Mr Alder,

Understanding that the Spanish Government has decided to establish diplomatic relations with Israel,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government why this decision has not yet been implemented and when his government intends to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

Question No. 18:

Mr van der Werff,

Considering that, with the return of democracy to Spain, it is right and proper that Spain should maintain diplomatic relations with all the democratic nations of the world, and that the President was therefore right to declare that he intended to establish diplomatic ties with Israel;

Considering, too, that the Committee on Culture and Education will shortly be visiting Israel and among its members are some Spanish parliamentarians,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether he does not think that the time is ripe to fulfil that promise and that it would be fitting to establish relations with Israel at the earliest possible opportunity, if possible prior to the committee’s visit to Israel.

Question No. 19:

Mr Berrier

To ask the President of the Spanish Government whether, with a view to his country’s future entry into the European Community, he does not think it natural that Spain should establish diplomatic relations with Israel, as Spain could be the only member of the EEC not to have recognised this state, with which the Community itself has an association agreement.

Question No. 20:

Mr Oliver J. Flanagan,

Noting that Spain has not yet established diplomatic relations with Israel, in spite of repeated declarations that she intends to do so;

Noting also that Israel is a democratic country that has been participating in the Council of Europe as an observer for more than twenty years now,

To ask the President of the Spanish Government when Spain intends to end this strange situation, in which the only democratic country with which Spain refrains from normal international relations is Israel.

Question No. 21:

Sir Anthony Grant and Mr Jessel

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what is the policy of his Government concerning the recognition of the state of Israel.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

I am glad these questions have been raised; I believe they have attracted the attention of a large number of members of the Assembly.

Every aspect of the problem is expressed in these questions, from asking if I am able to give a date for the restoration of relations – or rather the establishment of relations, if we take a historic view of the matter – to some of the Middle East problems implicit in the questions concerning relations between Spain and Israel.

There are three points I would like to make.

Firstly, my Government was the first Spanish one to raise the matter of establishing relations with Israel as a problem needing to be resolved. In the past, the problem existed but was not presented as one needing to be resolved.

Secondly, relations with Israel are developing in all fields.

Thirdly, Spain earnestly hopes that a positive answer can be found to the problems of the Middle East. I would not like that to be taken as meaning that our relations with Israel depend to any extent on the development of the Middle East conflict, but nor would I want to hide the fact that it would be a great satisfaction to me, as President of the Spanish Government, to see progress being made. The recognition or establishment of relations depends on the sovereign will of the Spanish people. The problem has been raised, although no date has been set, and I believe it will be resolved.

I would like to stress once again that the position of the Spanish Government has not changed; it wants a settlement to the conflict, to the basic historical Palestinian problem, in agreement with the United Nations resolutions, using peaceful methods, through the recognition of the legitimate historical rights which should take priority over our own personal opinions, however legitimate they may be.

As regards the basic question, therefore, Spain maintains an unchanging attitude towards the Palestinian people and respect for the international resolutions.

On the problem of Israel, I hope the shortcomings in our relations, meaning the lack of diplomatic relations, will disappear in the near future. Believe me when I say that, after such a long time, haste cannot always be reasonably justified.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

We now come to Question No. 22 put by Mr Jessel, concerning European Music Year. It reads as follows:

“Mr Jessel

To ask the President of the Spanish Government what part Spain intends to play in European Music Year 1985.”

Mr Gonzalez, President of the Spanish Government (translation)

I would not like to dwell at length on this, although Spain’s involvement in European Music Year is quite extensive. Many projects are being developed and the Assembly will be interested to know that the national organising committee has already been set up, with the Queen of Spain as its honorary president and the Minister for Culture as its executive president.

Already more than a dozen projects have been submitted; the first in line is the mounting of an exhibition on Domenico Scarlatti and his times, on the occasion of the third centenary of his birth. It expresses a certain spirit of European co-operation in this field; a book is to be published, and there will also be several activities and various other publications. Spain will naturally try to highlight its own music and its contribution to the overall picture of European musical achievement.

THE PRESIDENT (translation)

That concludes the parliamentary questions for oral answer. I warmly thank the President of the Spanish Government for having given such clear and complete replies to the members of the Assembly despite the somewhat limited time available to him. (Loud applause)