The Balearics and Madrid appear to be talking, but neither administration is as yet prepared to agree to one another's demands and terms. On Monday, Balearic Ministers for Finance and Public Works met the Secretary of State for Development, Francisco Alvarez Cascos, in Madrid and while Cascos proposed a number of solutions to the Balearics' transport and infrastructural problems, Balearic President Francesc Antich yesterday claimed that Madrid is continuing with its hotly denied anti-Balearic policy “soon people will think that Madrid is trying to pull our legs,” he said. In Madrid the domestic airline problem was discussed, and Cascos told Balearic ministers that, should Palma make an official application for flights from the mainland to the Balearics and services linking the islands to be declared a public service, then Madrid will seriously consider approving such a move, as is the case in the Canary Islands. However, Antich was not impressed by Madrid's offer, pointing out that Palma has already approached Madrid on two previous occasions. However, one of the most exciting proposals from Madrid is for Majorca's expanding railway service to be included in billion-peseta AVE (Spain's high speed rail service programme). While Antich made light of the fact that a high speed link to Alcudia “would stop in the sea,” Madrid's offer is focused more on the Majorcan railway's being able to consult and use the expertise of the country's top engineers and the very latest rail technology. The Balearics now have two options with regards to the future of the region's railways. Sign up to the national rail plan or continue operating as an isolated venture with central government only required to provide railway material and limited funding. Opposition Partido Popular parliamentary spokesperson, José María González Ortea, who was also present at the meeting, described the talks as “extremely positive.” Central government, while not prepared to channel large amounts of funding in to the local government's road policy, as it conflicts with central government's mandate, it is prepared to help the region develop its railway service properly. rtea explained that Madrid does not believe a dual carriageway between Palma and Manacor is the solution. Madrid is adamant that for safety reasons, a motorway is the best way of coping with 40'000 vehicles a day. Ortea did admit though that, while the meetings appear to be achieving very little at this stage, “it's a good sign that the two sides are talking.” Antich maintains that Madrid is prepared to release public funding for rail, road and infrastructure projects, but money will only be forthcoming if the projects adopted are those devised by Madrid, therefore clipping autonomous government's wings and decision-making powers.

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