foreign policy

foreign policy
   There exist two main debates regarding Spain's foreign policy under the Franco regime. First, the regime was remarkably opportunistic in exploiting the global divisions of the Cold War. Second, the Foreign Ministry was considerably more progressive than might have been expected from a right-wing authoritarian dictatorship. The fact remains that the isolation experienced by the Franco regime has remained relevant to the shaping of contemporary Spain's foreign policy. It was only in 1986 that Spain formally exchanged ambassadors with Israel and, in 1989, Spain was the only NATO member to condemn the US invasion of Panama in the UN General Assembly. The Madrid NATO summit, held in July 1997, failed to achieve the full integration of Spain into NATO's Integrated Military Command. This was partly a result of ongoing disputes regarding the status of the Canary Islands and Gibraltar within the NATO commands.
   Spain's foreign policy still exhibits aspects of its colonial legacy within the Spanish-speaking world. The much-maligned term Hispanidad has given way to the Comunidad iberoamericana de naciones (Spanish-American Community of Nations), a group of countries tied by common history to the Iberian peninsula. Since 1991, a series of annual summits have become a valuable public relations opportunity for Spanish and Latin American governments alike.
   In spite of this ongoing linkage to Latin America, Spain has sought status not only as a Spanish-speaking power, but more significantly as a major participant on the European stage. Since the treaty of accession to the European Communities was signed in June 1985, Spain has consistently pursued a policy of support for the federalist model of integration. Despite economic hardship in the form of unemployment for many Spaniards, the PSOE governments under Felipe González pursued a decidedly neo-liberal programme of restructuring. This economic policy, whilst being highly controversial with trade unions like the UGT, underlined a desire for membership of the European mainstream. Such a domestic agenda has dominated foreign policy. In the case of European Monetary Union (EMU), a successful accession in the first wave is as much a foreign policy goal as an economic target. Spanish foreign policy, dominated by European integration, represents a continuation of Spain's ongoing historical dilemma. There exists a choice between whether or not it should pursue and compete as a medium-sized European nation, or seek a Hispanic role based upon its historical linkages.
   The fact remains that Spain is among the poorer EU member states. The European vocation so dreamt of by modernizers is by no means a certainty and carries some risks. While successive governments remain committed to the concept of a European Union, the direction of integration and the opportunities hoped for by Spain are more likely to be decided by the actions of the biggest EU member states. Achievement of the convergence criteria for EMU may admit Spain to the first wave of a single currency, but the full realization of the project will depend on the actions of Germany and France. Spain still remains subordinated to the security policy of the Atlantic-looking powers of western Europe. NATO's reputation was subject to suspicion for a substantial period within Spain, and in spite of considerable efforts, a European defence and security identity remains distant. Despite a prolonged and largely successful campaign to play a significant role in Europe, notable diplomatic successes for Spain have been few and far between.
   The Mediterranean remains the largest security concern for Spain. While most of Europe has been preoccupied by the scale of the restructuring of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the depth of poverty and the fragility of peace in North Africa constitute a serious problem. The "Mediterranean Partnership" programme of the EU offers little by way of aid, compared to what is available to aspirant EU applicants in Eastern Europe. Only when the rhetoric is matched by the resources of Europe can Spain say that its policies towards its particular areas of concern have been a success. Foreign policy within a democratic framework has seen considerable change since the early 1980s. The efforts by the then Foreign Minister Fernando Morán to pursue a progressive foreign policy (1982–5) reflected an attempt to maintain some of the Franco regime's dubious successes. The puente, that is, the bridge between Europe and Latin America, was revitalized to indicate or even demarcate the victory of the Socialists in 1982. Towards Central America, sympathy and moral support in the face of active US policy caused Spain to evolve a position visibly distinct from the rest of the European Community. While this position may have been politically expedient, it did little to improve Spain's standing in either Europe, Latin America or the world. By the time of the NATO referendum (1986), Morán had been replaced. His successors have focused their energies more on Europe than Latin America, though Spain enjoyed an obvious advantage in leading Europe's opening towards the continent. Spain's more prominent international role has been a product of the democratic transition. This does not mean that the legacy of isolation has been lost, but that the adoption of foreign policy positions remain conditioned by its experience of the twentieth century.
   Further reading
   - Barbé, E. (1996) "The External Dissenter: Spain" in S.Stavridis and C.Hill (eds) Domestic Sources of Foreign Policy, Oxford: Berg (a handy brief introduction to foreign policy issues).
   - Cortada, J. (ed.) (1980) Spain in the Twentieth Century World, London: Aldwych (a comprehensive study of the Franco period).
   - Gillespie, R., Rodrigo, F. and Story, J. (eds) (1995) Democratic Spain: Reshaping External Relations in a Changing World, London: Routledge (an excellent symposium of essays, covering all aspects of the topic).
   - Heywood, P. (1995) The Government and Politics of Spain, London: Macmillan (see chapter 12 for a lucid and concise account of Spain's international relations).
   - Pollack, B. (1987) The Paradox of Spanish Foreign Policy, London: Frances Pinter (a key study of the complexities of foreign policy).

Encyclopedia of contemporary Spanish culture. 2013.

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