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Spain - Foreign Relations

Opposition to Franco in the immediate postwar period and the lingering hostility to his regime today stem largely from the popular identification of his regime, particularly among western European leftist groups, with those of Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Spains relations with other Western European powers have improved markedly since the early postwar years. Spain was then excluded from the OEEC and NATO, and the Franco regime was condemned by the UN and barred from membership therein. The UN also recommended that Spain be barred from membership in international agencies associated with the UN and that UN members withdraw their chiefs of mission from Madrid.

A key element in Spanish foreign policy after World War II was the indication theme, according to which Spain was the first country to fight Communism successfully during its Civil War, and it thereby incurred the lasting enmity of Communist-dominated governments. Following World War II, so the doctrine holds. Spain was ostracized chiefly because it was anti-Communist. Since that time, according to the doctrine, Spain has not changed its foreign or domestic policies, but other countries have come to realize the justice of Spains stand and have admitted this by normalizing relations.

By 1960 Spain had successfully emerged from its diplomatic isolation of the post-World War II period. Following the conclusion of the agreements with the United States in 1953, Spain moved back into international society and became a member of the UN, OEEC, participates in other multilateral organizations and UN specialized agencies, and applied for adherence to GATT. It also sought to improve its relations with other Western European nations by official visits, trade and cultural agreement, etc. Spanish participation in NATO, however, continued to be adamantly opposed by the Scandinavian members in particular, who regarded the Franco regime as ideologically incompatible with NATO principles.

After the return of democracy following the death of General Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco years and expand diplomatic relations, enter the European Community, and define security relations with the West. Spain assumed the EU presidency in January 2010 and finished its term in June 2010. As a member of NATO since 1982, Spain has established itself as a major participant in multilateral international security activities. Spain's EU membership represents an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond Western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political cooperation mechanism.

With the normalization of diplomatic relations with Israel and Albania in 1986, Spain virtually completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations. It does not have diplomatic relations with North Korea.

Spain forms a natural bridge between the two shores of the Atlantic and is committed to the economic and social challenges that Ibero America faces, making great efforts in the areas of cooperation and aid whenever the need arises. Spain has maintained its special identification with Latin America. Its policy emphasizes the concept of Hispanidad, a mixture of linguistic, religious, ethnic, cultural, and historical ties binding Spanish-speaking America to Spain. Spain has been an effective example of transition from authoritarianism to democracy, as shown in the many trips that Spain's King and Prime Ministers have made to the region. Spain maintains economic and technical cooperation programs and cultural exchanges with Latin America, both bilaterally and within the EU.

On a bilateral level Spain is open to all Ibero American countries, offering loyal cooperation and support with the best intentions. There is already a notable effort to increase Spanish presence through political cooperation, along with an obvious increase in the penetration of our economic interests through investment. But in political and strategic terms, Spains most important contribution involves participation in reconciliation and pacification processes, which are still necessary. Given the value Spain places on peaceful relations with all peoples, Spain is especially receptive to any peace-building and maintenance process in Latin America that enhances security.

In addition to traditional missions guaranteeing national security and sovereignty, Spain is already sharing valuable lessons with Ibero American countries from Spanish experience in the area of new missions for the Armed Forces: stability projection, peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

In spite of the economic, demographic and sociocultural differences, both sides of the Mediterranean are clearly and increasingly interrelated in a globalised world. This would suggest the need to assume an integral security focus including multilateral cooperation measures running both horizontally between states and vertically in diverse areas such as the economy, development, the environment, etc. In this regard Spain favours dialogue and multilateral cooperation between the countries in the region, especially with the Magreb, as this helps consolidate a safer and sounder Europe. Spain considers that the dialogues begun within these international organisations are very positive, and that they should develop in a compatible and complementary fashion in order to create a true culture of peace and stability in the region.

Although security in the Mediterranean is a regional question, it may be reinforced in the strategic realm through bilateral relations and cooperation with non-State actors such as nongovernmental organisations. So there is an objective basis for Spains active participation in all initiatives directly related to security in the Mediterranean area and the Magreb. This serves to create the transparency and confidence needed among the Mediterranean basin countries in order to achieve the security and well-being of their people.

Spain also continues to focus attention on North Africa, especially on Morocco, a source of much of Spain's large influx of legal and illegal immigrants over the past 10 years. This concern is dictated by geographic proximity and long historical contacts and more recently by immigration trends, as well as by the two Spanish enclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa. While Spain's departure from its former colony of Western Sahara ended direct Spanish participation in Morocco, it maintains an interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflict brought about there by decolonization. These issues were highlighted by a crisis in 2002, when Spanish forces evicted a small contingent of Moroccans from a tiny islet off Morocco's coast following that nation's attempt to assert sovereignty over the island.

Meanwhile, Spain has gradually begun to broaden its contacts with Sub-Saharan Africa. It has a particular interest in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, where it maintains a large aid program.

In relations with the Arab world, Spain has sought to promote European-Mediterranean dialogue. Spain strongly supports the EU's Union for the Mediterranean (formerly called the Barcelona Process) to expand dialogue and trade between Europe and the nations of North Africa and the Middle East, including Israel. Barcelona will serve as the headquarters of the new Union for the Mediterranean proposed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2007.

Spain has been successful in managing its relations with its three European neighbors, France, Andorra, and Portugal. The accession of Spain and Portugal to the EU has helped ease some of their periodic trade frictions by putting these into an EU context. Franco-Spanish bilateral cooperation is enhanced by joint action against Basque ETA terrorism. Ties with the United Kingdom are generally good, although the question of Gibraltar remains a sensitive issue.

It was politically impossible for the Spain to support Kosovo's 17 February 2008 unilateral declaration of independence [UDI] in the middle of a hotly contested campaign, and to have expected otherwise was not realistic. Both the ruling PSOE government and the opposition PP opposed the UDI and had said so publicly numerous times. Spanish Foreign Minister Moratinos stated on 18 February 2008 that "The Spanish government will not recognize the unilateral act proclaimed yesterday by the Kosovar assembly, and it will not recognize it because we do not believe it respects international legality... The Spanish government has always defended respect for international legality. It defended it when it decided to withdraw troops from Iraq, and it defends it again now when talking about the secession of a state... If you examine the nations who are against this recognition, they are the countries that know best and are the most similar to the West Balkans." Moratinos went on to say that Kosovar independence would be legal if brought about by a new UNSCR or by a negotiated agreement between the parties, and that Spain wished to uphold the international principle of territorial integrity. Kosovo's independence prompted numerous provocative statements by nationalist parties in the Basque Country and Catalonia.

On basic feature of Spanish foreign policy in the 1950s was the need to demonstrate an external threat in order to justify continued controls over the countrys political and economic life. Now that Franco has been generally accepted outside the Soviet orbit, this type of justification for some features of the regime is no longer valid unless Franco can demonstrate that the threat continues. Vehement Falange demands for the return of Gibraltar constituted in part an attempt to keep this menace alive.

The long contention over Gibraltar is a thorn in the relations between United Kingdom and Spain. Both countries approach the negotiations from a Western perspective, as democratic, friendly, allied States with common interests that supersede the dispute. Still, this contention permanently hovers over Spanish-British relations, which are inevitably affected by it. The very positive progress in bilateral relations between both countries allows for the first time to sense the possibility of a solution to the problem.

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Page last modified: 06-02-2013 19:00:54 ZULU