‘Immigration is complex matter'

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20-08-2013
Balearic leader Francesc Antich is in favour of a pact between all the political parties to try and solve the problems caused by the increase in population in the islands, but, he stressed, immigration is a State matter. In an interview yesterday he said that immigration is a complex and complicated matter. Solutions are needed, he said, but it is the State which has the key to the solution, with its law on foreigners. At the same time, he pointed out, the Balearics need a certain amount of immigration. “The question is finding a balance,” he said. Antich is not in favour of an open doors policy but, he said, it must be remembered that immigrants are people and should be treated as people. “If we make ghettoes, we are creating division and confrontation. If the State doesn't control immigration then the mafias do. But, I repeat, we must guarantee the welfare of the immigrants, who have rights and obligations. “They have the obligation to integrate in our culture. And these are the lines we should follow, although it is clear that an inordinate economic growth has attracted many people. It is not a question of stopping growth so that more immigrants don't arrive. The objective is to grow well and have the number of immigrants we need.” Asked about the tourist season, Antich said that there had been a slowdown world wide but it had gone well in the Balearics. “In June we were the leaders in occupation, as we were in July and possible August, too. Our tourist sector has shown signs of solidity although that does not mean that we should not be concerned about the slowdown and we should take care of structural matters to change our model.” Antich went on to say that there should be “a greater balance between economic growth and the environment, and our identity. Our clients complain about massification, that the environment is not respected, insecurity, they want more cleanliness and better services. “We must try to get our three star hotels to give better services than three star hotels in other areas. But I should like to make it clear that going for quality does not mean that we only accept five star tourists. That is not our model.” Asked if he thought more money should be spent on tourism promotion, Antich said his government was already making an effort, and had held meetings with travel agencies, the chamber of commerce and hoteliers. But it was necessary to reach agreement, he stressed, because if each sector gives a different message, it gives the wrong impression. “We must put an end to quarrels and start working for the future,” he added. Antich defended the introduction of the tourist tax which, he said, enables the government to “invest in the negative effects of tourism, and our visitors will be happy to have come to the Balearics. And this is the best promotion we can do.” Antich spoke about his government's achievements in the field of education, where it has spent 17'000 million pesetas in amenities and reforms, and health, where great achievements in the field of mental health have been made. But “things cannot be changed in two days” and a lot still remains to be done, he said. Traffic is a major problem, and Antich said that the solution lies in public transport. “Quality of life does not mean driving into Palma and spending half an hour looking for somewhere to park,” he said. Antich ended by criticising the opposition, which has not been very constructive.

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