President Zapatero met King Juan Carlos yesterday at the Marivent Palace in Palma de Mallorca before heading to Lanzarote to spend his summer holidays with his wife and children. During a press conference following his hour and a half meeting, Mr Zapatero announced that the first Alliance of Civilizations summit will be held somewhere on the Balearic Islands during November and will be attended by intellectuals, social and political leaders and ex-leaders from all over the world. Mr Zapatero smiled, but did not confirm or deny, when asked whether ex-US president Bill Clinton would be among the delegates. Mr Zapatero's Alliance of Civilizations project is personally backed by UN general secretary Kofi Annan, and strongly supported by Turkey.
King Juan Carlos and president Zapatero, who will meet again towards the end of the month, discussed a number of other issues including proposed reforms to Cataluña's regional statute and the situation in the Basque country. A meeting has been organised with recently re-elected regional Basque president (lehendakari) Juan José Ibarretxe at the Moncloa Palace in September, and Mr Zapatero said that he would be inviting PP opposition leader Mariano Rajoy to take part in the discusssions. Despite discrepancies between the leaders of the three parties which constitute the tripartite coalition government in Cataluña (PSC-PSOE-ERC) over the wording of a proposed reform to Cataluña's regional statute, Mr Zapatero said that, "We support more self-government for Cataluña, for the good of the region and the rest of Spain, so long as such changes lie within the framework of the Spanish Constitution, and that they are supported by the majority.
With regard to the government's economic targets, Mr Zapatero explained that they are aiming to bring Spanish unemployment down to below the European average during the current term, and keep public borrowing down to below 40% of GDP (currently 46%). A target for a hypothetical second term in office will be to achieve an increase in per capita earnings towards average EU levels.