Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Spanish Government will raise the minimum salary

Yesterday the Spanish government announced that in July it will raise the minimum salary by 6.6% to 490 Euros per month, 14 months per year (workers' yearly salaries in Spain are divided over a period of 14 months rather than 12, because they earn a double wage at Christmas and in June). This will be the first of successive rises over the next four years. By the end of this legislature, the Socialist Government wants the minimum wage to stand at 600 Euros (x 14).

Meanwhile, the executive board of the International Olympic Committee voted on a shortlist of candidates to host the 2012 Olympic Games and ranked Madrid second in the list, behind Paris. Madrid scored well in all categories, and yesterday evening the Mayor of Madrid said he was confident that between now and July next year when the final vote will be cast in Singapore, Madrid would be able to improve the areas in which it scored less than the French capital. He said that the fact that Paris has already staged the Olympic Games and Madrid not would act in favor of the Spanish capital's candidature. The list of shortlisted cities in order of ranking is Paris, Madrid, London, New York and Moscow.

Aznar is back in Spain after his controversial trip to the USA. It has emerged that President Bush was not the only friend present in the meeting the two had yesterday. According to Cadena Ser, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney also attended this private meeting. When it concluded, neither Aznar nor Bush made any declarations to the media. Aznar left via one of the side exits of the White House. Back in Spain, according to El Mundo, when President Zapatero was asked by reporters on Monday to give an opinion on the declarations made by Aznar criticising the election results and the new Spanish government's policy on Iraq, Zapatero said Aznar's criticism had not made him feel "uncomfortable" at all, and that "each person has his own style of doing things". The Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos, gave a similar opinion when asked by reporters. He said he was not concerned about Aznar's declarations which lacked "importance" and "influence".

Today President Zapatero receives the Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qorei having yesterday held a meeting with the foreign minister of Israel, Silvan Shalom. Zapatero and Ahmed Qorei will give a press conference after their meeting and will then have lunch together with Javier Solana (EU Foreign Policy and Security Representative), Miguel Angel Moratinos and Marc Otte (the EU special envoy to the Middle East). Zapatero is convinced that there will be no viable solution to Islamic extremist terrorism until the conflict between Israel and Palestine is solved, and he wants Spanish foreign policy to concentrate on trying to put an end to the violence perpetrated by the Israeli government and Palestine extremists in this area.

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