The President of the Government, Pedro Sanchez, has bet on Wednesday clearly to maintain employment in the shipyards of Navantia in the Bay of Cadiz , which depends on a contract to build five frigates for Saudi Arabia , in response to requests from the opposition for Spain to suspend arms sales to Riyadh due to the assassination of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi .
Sanchez has confirmed the position of his Government in a hearing at the Congress in which, in relation to Saudi Arabia, has assured that the sale of weapons to this country is based on current contracts that comply with national and international standards and has requested “height of view” to the Chamber to understand that, in spite of everything, the national economic interest must prevail.
” As President of the Government defending the interests of Spain, ” said Sanchez, who, without further details, has outlined from the rostrum of speakers a proposal “that puts us at the forefront and pioneer in verification control and transparency” of exports of weapons.
Sanchez has condemned “without palliative” the “terrible murder” of Khashoggi and has opted for the investigation requested by the UN to “fall the full weight of the law on those responsible for this terrible crime.” However, it has also defended a sale of arms that is covered by legal and current contracts and to a country, Saudi Arabia, which is not affected by the embargo that was decreed by the UN Security Council following the coup in Yemen.
In his speech, Sánchez has tried to maintain a balance in his speech between the commitment of his Government to “multilateralism, human rights, peace and freedom” with its obligation to ” take into account companies operating in third countries , also in Saudi Arabia, to the Spanish citizens and the need to maintain their economic subsistence “.
However, this Wednesday the balance has tilted in favor of jobs in Spain: ” I have to be today in the defense of the interests of the Spanish , sectors that are many of them in areas heavily affected by unemployment” , he has affirmed.
The decision of Sanchez has not raised the criticism of PP or Citizens, in favor of maintaining commercial contracts and have passed over this issue in a debate in which Brexit has also mixed or immigration. The popular leader, Pablo Casado , has chosen to stick to issues of national policy to, in relation to Catalonia, blame the president of being “the coup d’etat that is taking place in Spain.”
Only the PNV spokesperson, Aitor Esteban , has shown some solidarity with the ” difficulties faced ” by Sanchez when deciding between national jobs and human rights, before asking to “promote a common European policy” on this issue. Also the PdeCAT, through Jordi Xuclá , has requested that, like Germany, Spain suspend the sale of arms until there is a common position in the EU.
Interestingly, the Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, has become the benchmark for Catalan separatists on Wednesday, which, in light of what this president has defended Wednesday, declared on Tuesday that “we can not remain impassive in the face of a violation of the human rights”.
Xuclá and also the ERC spokesperson, Joan Tardá , have referred to her when she has asked Sánchez to listen not only to the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, but also to her Minister of Defense, who was disowned last month when, after more hesitation than on this occasion, the president decided to go ahead with the sale of 400 pumps to Riyadh , precisely, also for fear of losing the contract of the shipyards of the Bay of Cádiz.
“Beyond the example of Mrs. Merkel, has that of Mrs. Robles. I am convinced that he thinks what he thinks about dignity and, if not, ask him, even if it is in privacy, “said Tardá.
Elections in Andalusia
In the current context, dominated by the Andalusian elections of December 2 , Sanchez has opted for the maintenance of the contract for the construction in the shipyards of Cadiz of five frigates ordered by Riyadh, for 1,800 million and which will guarantee the employment of 6,000 until 2020 .
“If anyone doubts the principles of the progressive mayors of the Bay of Cádiz regarding world peace, I do not doubt it, but they make Bay workers and their families a more immediate priority and I understand it”, has said.
The elections in Andalusia not only weigh on the PSOE. Also in Podemos , where the call to the polls on December 2 has changed its speech to the refusal of Sanchez to suspend the export of arms to Riyadh.
This Wednesday, Iglesias has reproached Sanchez who has not “lived up to the motion of censure” and has not hesitated to ensure that you have to “revoke signed contracts.” However, it has introduced a new actor, which in Podemos is directly linked to the electoral campaign in Andalusia. As his group on the defense commission already made Tuesday, Iglesias has urged the government to suspend the sale of weapons to Riyadh and if that causes the contract with Navantia to be canceled, it will be up to the Government to “look for an alternative buyer” of the ships
“If it does not appear,” he added, Sanchez will have to demonstrate that “the fourth economy of the euro zone can assimilate the work letter of the shipyards “.
“Some people say that human rights have to be respected, they have costs, and if you have to pay an invoice, they must be paid by the citizens of Cadiz .” If we have to pay for it, we pay for it, “Iglesias said.
This Tuesday, the socialist deputy Antonio Gutiérrez Limones referred to the idea of breaking up with Riyadh and keeping jobs as “to be in mass and ringing” , but in Podemos defends that if Spain can spend 5,000 million to rescue motorways, it can spend 1,800 million, or less, to build frigates that the army would receive with open arms.
Also the president of Citizens, Albert Rivera, has aimed to ask for two elements that for Sanchez this Wednesday have been presented impossible to combine. He said that “we must respect the current contracts and human rights , the two things are compatible, we must not dodge the debate.”
Without interests in Andalusia, by ERC, Tardá has fired in his intervention against Riyadh, the Government and against the king, whom he has accused of having friendship with the Saudi king. He pointed out that Sanchez “can commit prevaricaci or n” because the law prohibits selling arms to countries suspected of human rights violations.
In everything he has considered that the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia is ” a true corruption of democratic values” and, returning to the sale the table of 400 precision bombs, has directly fired Sanchez that “you are responsible for the use end of weapons. “