Zaragoza: Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero expressed hope that the Arab countries where there have been anti-government protests in recent weeks will achieve "democratic reforms, freedom, progress and social justice", but always through "peaceful changes”.
Zapatero on Sunday remarked on the "significant moments" that several Arab countries are going through, without citing any of them specifically, in his speech at a Socialist Party political event in the northeastern city of Zaragoza.
For those "friendly" countries, he said, one must wish for the same things that Spaniards wish for themselves, including "democratic reforms, freedom, progress and social justice".
"We want peaceful changes and we want and commit ourselves to the EU (European Union) giving future support to those changes and (pledge) our ties and our support for the development of the aspirations of the young people and for job opportunities to also be present in the policies of the European Union," Zapatero said.
The situation concerns changes of great significance and, in the face of that, Spain's commitment must be "clear and emphatic", Zapatero said.
The Prime Minister also asked for support from all Spanish political forces to achieve a "peaceful transition in the countries that are experiencing such serious convulsions and that are costing human lives".
About 100 Egyptians, meanwhile, gathered on Sunday in front of the Egyptian embassy in Madrid to express support for the street protests that are occurring in their country and to demand democratic reform and an end to President Hosni Mubarak's regime.
At the protest, the demonstrators chanted slogans in Arabic and Spanish while they trampled on photographs of the Egyptian president, who has been in power since 1981, as well as on posters with his name crossed out.
Among the participants was the well-known Egyptian singer Ali El Haggar, who is in Madrid to undergo surgery and who told the media that he had been waiting for 30 years hoping that his people would have the "courage" to take to the streets and that moment had arrived.
Expressing great emotion, he lamented the fact that he was not with all his friends and other artists in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the political protests against the regime.
First Published: Monday, January 31, 2011, 12:57