Balearic leader Francesc Antich yesterday presented King Juan Carlos with the community's gold medal at a meeting at the Marivent Palace, where he explained to the King the chief projects which will be carried out in the islands thanks to the money raised by the tourist tax. The meeting was the annual audience granted by the King during his summer holiday in Majorca. Antich told the King how pleased they were at the Balearics being named European Region of 2003 by the European Union, and he invited the King to accept the honorary presidency. The Balearics will share the honour with the Russian Republic of Carelia. The audience lasted for about 40 minutes and Antich also presented the King with a portfolio of lithographs and etchings by Balearic artists, entitled Four Islands. Talking to journalists after the meeting, Antich said that it was important for regions to take a greater part in the construction of the European Union. He said that he and the King had discussed current affairs of the Balearics, such as the tourist tax, the tourism crisis on national and international levels and the state of water supplies this summer. “The King, as always, has shown great knowledge of Balearic affairs,” Antich said, adding he had informed the monarch of environmental projects for recovering the artistic heritage and restoring tourist areas planned for funds raised by the tourist tax which was introduced on May 1. Antich said that they also discussed the slow down in the German economy which has affected many tourist destinations. He also thanked the King, whom he described as “The best ambassador for the islands,” for choosing Majorca for his summer residence.

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