Sunday, June 26

José Manuel Albares, Sánchez’s loyal international advisor | Spain

José Manuel Albares, during an interview in July 2019, when he was in La Moncloa.
José Manuel Albares, during an interview in July 2019, when he was in La Moncloa.Claudio Alvarez placeholder image

Pedro Sánchez described this Saturday the new Minister of Foreign Affairs as a “young but experienced diplomat.” The qualification of young man was striking on his lips, since José Manuel Albares is the same age as the president (49 years old), although the diplomatic career is presumed less dazzling than that of head of government. Albares is indeed the youngest diplomat to direct the Palace of Santa Cruz – before him, Miguel Ángel Moratinos and Alfonso Dastis, among others, did, which gives him the advantage of knowing all the ins and outs of the house and the downside that everyone knows him. Or they think they know it.

With his appointment, Sánchez wanted to reward, above all, his loyalty. This Madrilenian from the Usera neighborhood, graduated in Law and graduated in Business Studies from the University of Deusto, parked a secure diplomatic career to join the team of candidate Pedro Sánchez in 2015, on whom no one was betting a penny at the time. The bets were right and the diplomat had to return to his office in the ministry with the sanbenito of a socialist in the middle of the PP government, but ready to rejoin as soon as Sánchez called him again.

He did so after the 2018 vote of no confidence, when the new president created a position for him at La Moncloa, as secretary general (equivalent to undersecretary) for International Affairs, the European Union, the G-20 and Global Security. During that time he was the sherpa de Sánchez, who was preparing the international summits and trying to capitalize on his status as a social democratic leader in an EU dominated by conservative governments. There were few frictions with the powerful Chief of Staff Iván Redondo, who wanted to control both the national and international agenda of the president.

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When Josep Borrell was appointed High Representative of the EU, Albares was in all the pools to succeed him, but Sánchez must have considered that he was too young and surprised with an unknown Arancha González Laya in the Spanish political groups. The loyal sherpa, Divorced from a French judge specializing in the fight against terrorism, with whom he has four children, he returned as ambassador to Paris, where he had already been a cultural attaché. His curriculum also includes the position of consul general in Bogotá and advisor to the permanent representation before the OECD.

Now he will have to deal with the diplomatic crisis with Morocco, still pending, and finalize the agreement on future relations between Gibraltar and the EU, pending formal negotiation between London and Brussels. Also organize the NATO summit scheduled for next year in Madrid and appoint the pending ambassadors; among others, that of London and the gap that he himself has left in Paris. He has the full confidence of the Prime Minister, but also with broad responsibility. Redondo is no longer in La Moncloa, nor is there a secretary general for International Affairs like he was in Borrell’s time. For better and for worse, Sánchez’s diplomatic adviser and the foreign minister are now the same person.

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