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Breakfast with Frost
Jose Maria Aznar, Spanish prime minister
Jose Maria Aznar, Spanish prime minister
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: JOSE MARIA AZNAR SPANISH PRIME MINISTER MARCH 16th, 2003

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: As we heard earlier, the Spanish Prime Minister, Jose Maria Aznar, is flying out to the Azores this morning for that summit with Tony Blair and George Bush. The Spanish Prime Minister has stood firmly behind Britain and America, but the trio are looking a bit lonely today with the UN so far refusing to back military action against Iraq. I spoke to Mr. Aznar last night and began by asking him what he was hoping would be achieved at the summit. Whether it is yet another effort to pursue diplomacy or is it more of a council of war.

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: We are always thinking about peace and security regarding these issues therefore we would still to give peace an opportunity to guarantee the fulfilment of UN resolutions which since 1991 have remained unfulfilled by Saddam Hussein's regime. We have done everything in our power in the last few weeks to reach a solution. We have made every possible effort to reach it but we must tell the international community that we can not tolerate such a fulfilment of international law if we won't have saved the world.

DAVID FROST: Jack Straw the Foreign Secretary here said today that military action as of today is now much more probable.

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: We have done everything in our power to reach a consensus on the United Nations Security Council. Resolution 1441 gives a last opportunity to comply with disarmament conditions and he was warned he would face serious consequences if he didn't disarm.

DAVID FROST: Would you say that what Jacques Chirac has been saying this week has been helpful or unhelpful?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: I think there is something we have to start doing that is strengthening transatlantic relations. I believe that relations between the US and Europe are essential to security in the world. I believe that the closer this relationship is the more opportunities we will have to safeguard peace and security.

DAVID FROST: So, Prime Minister, if there is no second Resolution, either because you decide in the Azores to withdraw it, or on the other hand, because it is voted down, voted against. You are saying that without a second Resolution you would still support military action?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: What I am saying is that in my opinion legally acting under the seventh chapter of the Charter and taking into consideration all Resolutions from the 687 to the 1441 there is a possibility of going to war if necessary. I have said that we are doing and we have done everything in our power to reach a peaceful solution to this crisis on the basis of fulfilment of disarmament requirements and I repeat, that the last chance for peace lies in Saddam's hands. He can avoid the serious consequences which he might be facing in the case of unfulfilment. What I would also like to say is that a further Resolution would be politically desirable, politically better. But from the legal point of view it is not indispensable.

DAVID FROST: Would you prefer to see Saddam Hussein killed or captured so that he can be tried for war crimes and human rights violations? Which would you prefer?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: Our objective is Saddam's disarmament. We know that if this disarmament takes place his bloody and tyrannical regime would collapse and the world would no longer be faced with the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We have to fulfil our duties in safeguarding international peace and security. I would not cry if Saddam's regime should collapse. In that case a tyranny would be over and many Iraqis will be able to enjoy freedom.

DAVID FROST: You have one thing very much in common with your good friend Tony Blair, and that is you have a tremendous majority of the general public of Spain against the idea of going to war without UN backing. Do you both feel that if you do that and are successful, the public will change its mind?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: These are two different things. Firstly in any case we will always be acting under the auspices of the United Nations. Secondly if action does take place we will be fulfilling our duties. Sometimes being a political leader is not easy. There is no peace under the threat of terrorist groups. Saddam Hussein cannot set rules for peace. Peace must be done by the international community in order to guarantee secure peace. This is my conviction and my sense of responsibility.

DAVID FROST: Many people are saying why does the United States, the UK and Spain have to be in such a rush, such a hurry? Why can't you give it, you've given it 12 years, why can't you give it 45 days like the Chileans say, or four months like the French say?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: In is saying that we have given him 12 years you are also saying that the international community has been infinitely patient with him. Many people had doubts about acting against Hitler, about acting against Milosevic. It is understandable that many people have felt about military action against a tyrant like Saddam Hussein, but these are the circumstances at the moment. It is not a matter of time for deadlines. Winston Churchill said that the best policy is honesty and I agree with him. The best policy is honesty and the best policy for a safe world is respect for law. There will be no safe world if international law remains unfulfilled for years and years.

DAVID FROST: Do you think there will be war within the next four weeks?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: This can only be known by one person, Saddam Hussein. He can avoid the serious consequences that he has been warned of by the international community. This is up to him alone.

DAVID FROST: But do you think there might be a new Resolution at the end of Sunday?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: We will do everything necessary up until the last minute. Actually we have made a lot of effort, we have tried to reach a concensus, we have worked flat out to reach it but we can not do anything about those countries which said that they would veto a Resolution whatever its contents. Obviously it's going to be difficult to change their minds.

DAVID FROST: What to you would be the best outcome of the meeting tomorrow in the Azores?

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: The best outcome would be the one causing Saddam's disarmament immediately. That would be the best outcome.

DAVID FROST: Prime Minister, thank you so much for being with us.

JOSE MARIA AZNAR: Thank you and good luck for all of you.

END OF INTERVIEW


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