ANTICH CALLS ON THE UNITED NATIONS TO DO ITS JOB

FRANCESC Antich stepped up the pressure on the Spanish government yesterday proclaiming “the Balearics neither supports nor wants to take part in war” against Iraq and called on the public to join the mass anti-war protest in Palma on Saturday while repeating his demands that Madrid bans allied forces from using Balearic installations. With opposition to the presence of the USS Oscar Austin in Palma growing, the Balearic president and leader of the UGT General Workers Union Balearics, Lorenzo Bravo, urged the public to join Saturday's protest. Antich stressed for a “peaceful” solution to the present crisis with Iraq and “to give international organisations a strong message of support that dialogue can solve global conflict... international relations can't be based on the law of the jungle,” Antich said. “Any form of military action against Iraq will cost a lot of human lives and international organisations, in particular the United Nations, should be asserting themselves and what they stand for, searching for a non-violent solution,” he added. Antich does not agree that attacking Saddam Hussein is part of the war on terrorism, in fact the local leader fears that an attack on Iraq will spark terrorist reprisals “provoking an even worse crisis.” “We want the government to listen to the people,” Antich said, hence Saturday's mass protest. “The vast majority are opposed to war,” he added pointing out that all political parties in Spain, apart from the governing conservative Partido Popular party are against an attack. Antich also expressed concern about the damage he claims the Spanish government's backing of the United States is doing to relations within the European Union “at a time when we need a united Europe more than ever.” Antich repeated his calls for Madrid to declare the Balearics a no-go zone for allied forces and that he is angry about the presence of the USS Oscar Austin in Palma “because if the attack is launched this ship will go to war.” UGT Balearics secretary-general Lorenzo Bravo said any attack on Iraq could set a precedent for the future “Hussein is making his people suffer, but we do not support the idea of a world policeman which decides to invade a country because it feels like it.” He too called on the international organisations to step up a gear adding “the majority of the Iraqi people will suffer death, disease and exile while in Spain, the war will leave thousands, if not millions, of workers on the streets.”

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