With the pandemic in the process of being solved, Pedro Sánchez turns to the international agenda, one of the most outstanding issues of his mandate, especially when compared with Mariano Rajoy or José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who are much less interested than the current president in this question. Sánchez has approached foreign policy with a clear vision of support for the internationalization of Spanish companies, not in vain did he choose Arancha González Laya, an expert in economic diplomacy, as Foreign Minister. In this context, the president visits Libya this Thursday, a country that has been in a terrible civil war for 10 years after the fall and assassination of Muammar El Gaddafi in 2011, but since the ceasefire of August 2020 is trying to forge a peaceful transition to democracy.
Sánchez travels with several businessmen, including the head of Repsol, Josu Jon Imaz, a company that has been in Libya for 27 years and has very important wells of the highest quality that it has managed to keep in operation despite the war. After a few months of hiatus in 2020, with the ceasefire, production has recovered and after a collapse of the economy of more than 50%, the largest in the world, it now grows to 115%. Cranes are seen all over the capital, Tripoli, lifting new buildings or rebuilding old ones.
Libya is among the 10 countries with the most oil reserves in the world, which would allow a high standard of living for its population if it could finally end the war and stabilize the economy. Sánchez thus seeks to support Spanish companies and create a space for them in the reconstruction, and also from the political point of view to support the Government of national concentration, which will face elections in December. Spain has reopened its embassy in the country, which since 2014 has operated from Tunisia, as a gesture of support for the democratic transition towards free elections.
Several European countries, especially Italy – Mario Draghi has traveled to Tripoli before Sánchez – are already trying to position themselves in the face of reconstruction, and Sánchez has opted for this trip so that Spain is not left behind in these relations with a strategic partner of the Mediterranean and a country that has been a huge headache due to the migration crisis, since thousands of migrants have departed from its shores when the country was in the midst of a civil war and with a very weak State, in addition to the advance of jihadist groups in area.
Libya is key throughout the region. “If we manage to stabilize Libya, we will be able to help a lot to stabilize the Sahel,” say sources from the Executive who are traveling with the president. Spain has also offered support with a small number of military personnel – a dozen – to back the UN operation that will oversee the ceasefire. In addition, Spain puts money for the demining of the country, about 50,000 euros, and 100,000 to help the electoral process in December.
Sánchez arrives in Libya in the middle of the diplomatic crisis between Spain and Morocco and travels with the Foreign Minister, Arancha González Laya, who is under pressure from the opposition, to the point that the PP has asked for his resignation. Sánchez supports Laya and the Executive believes that he has done the right thing, because, in his opinion, Morocco was in a very dangerous drift, emboldened after Donald Trump’s decision to recognize his sovereignty over Western Sahara in December 2020. Since then According to the information provided by the Government, Morocco has been climbing steps in the pressure against Spain and Germany, the two countries that most clearly reject that position of the United States and are committed to the UN resolution that defends an agreed solution for the former colony Spanish. This is how they interpret in the Executive the great increase in the arrival of boats with Moroccans to the Canary Islands in recent months, for example.
Sánchez and Laya are therefore convinced that it was necessary to draw a red line, especially since Morocco was beginning to question in public statements the Spanish sovereignty of Ceuta and Melilla, something unacceptable for Spain. That is why the president immediately went to Ceuta and Melilla when the crisis broke out. Now Sánchez and Laya are trying to redirect the relationship, but from another position, no longer trying every day to appease Morocco but by rebalancing the relationship and marking a clear line with the defense of the border and the Spanish territorial integrity.
The Government believes that Morocco this time has slowed down and has managed to get the entire European Union to unite with Spain against Rabat. Now Sánchez, focused on his foreign agenda – next week he will go to Argentina and Costa Rica – is preparing for a long crisis with Morocco, but he is confident that he has achieved a position of strength in the EU and does not seem to fear criticism from the opposition. let alone accept the requests for the dismissal of the minister.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.