Monday, January 24

NATO: Lights and fiascos | Opinion

Ursula von der Leyen and Pedro Sánchez at the press conference after the meeting on Wednesday in Madrid.
Ursula von der Leyen and Pedro Sánchez at the press conference after the meeting on Wednesday in Madrid.Luis Sevillano

The NATO Heads of State and Government agreed on Monday in Brussels to entrust Spain with the organization of its next summit, in the spring of 2022. The decision represents recognition of Spain’s role in the Atlantic Alliance, in which the year It will be 40 years since he entered. Although it continues to lag behind in military spending (1.02% of GDP, barely half of NATO’s target), its Armed Forces are very active in allied operations. The Madrid 2022 summit will not be one more: it will have to illuminate the new strategic concept, the roadmap of the main military alliance in the world for the next decade, and elect a new secretary general. This is a positive achievement for Spain in a framework of international relations that in recent weeks has had several lights and some shadows.

The news that Madrid will host an international summit with 30 leaders – including the president of the United States – was somewhat overshadowed by the fiasco of the first meeting between Pedro Sánchez and Joe Biden. The excessive expectation around the conversation between the two, generated by an improvable management of the official communication in this regard, was deflated when it was verified that it was a walk of less than a minute. The episode is nothing more than an anecdote. The international weight of a country is not measured by the minutes dedicated to it by the leader of the world’s leading power. Spain today represents neither a problem nor the solution for serious problems for Washington. She is a good ally and partner, but not a priority, and it stands to reason that Biden did not treat her as such. This does not prevent Spain from working better to assert what it can contribute in relation to Latin America, and that the communication failure has justified the feeling of fiasco.

But what matters most today is Spain’s anchoring in the EU. On that front, there are several assets on the balance sheet. The Government has positively interacted with Brussels and the European partners in the pandemic phase, playing a constructive role. The visit to Madrid by the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, to solemnize the approval of the Spanish recovery plan underlines a reasonably effective management so far, also in comparative terms. However, there are still great tests to overcome, and it cannot be forgotten that European policy today is more favorable to Spain than at other times.

The government has also achieved a strong European response to the challenge from Morocco, which a month ago sent thousands of people illegally crossing the Ceuta border. Rabat’s attempts to isolate Spain from its partners have been unsuccessful. But the management of the reception for humanitarian reasons by the leader of the Polisario Front should have been more transparent (as, on the other hand, was his departure) and the Government, although the responsibility for the crisis lies with Rabat, faces the difficult duty to rebuild the situation.

Today’s summit with Mario Draghi, which is the first bilateral that the Italian leader has held since his inauguration, should be used to maintain the recent good harmony with that country and forge ties with a very influential figure in Europe. European projection is what matters most. The balance so far is positive, but it will have to be validated and improved.

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