Balearic President Francesc Antich yesterday in Brussels warned the European Union against diverting EU financial aid to future new member states at the expense of regions such as the Balearics. Antich met the former NATO boss, Javier Solana, now responsible for the European Union's foreign policy and security, to stress the importance of ensuring that European Union expansion does not effect the Mediterranean region's development programmes. Balearic government sources in Palma said that Antich used the meeting to outline to Solana the Balearics' plans for a bigger role in the European Union, in particular with regards to improving relations between the Mediterranean zone countries and Europe. Antich made it clear to Solana that the Balearics has a number of strategic and economic interests which largely depend on a stable and prosperous Mediterranean arc, especially with regards to security and immigration. Both Antich and Solana agreed to push ahead with an environmental and sustainable development plan for the Mediterranean, in which five Mediterranean autonomous regions of Spain, including the Balearics will participate. The programme will be called Azahar and was devised by Spain to increase the level of co-operation between Spain and Mediterranean countries.

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