When still Donald Trump He did not believe in the coronavirus and assured that it was no more dangerous than the flu, he made these two decisions, one in an electoral key and the other sensible: to enable a credit of 850,000 million dollars so that “those affected will soon have money in their pockets” and cancel the state visit to the United States that the Kings of Spain they were scheduled for April 21.
Both announcements arrived on March 17, a month after Felipe VI and Letizia they should land in Washington. A forward-looking reaction that canceled an event that would have placed Spain on a curious podium, given the prevailing animosity among the Executive of Pedro Sanchez and that of the republican president.
The Spanish Monarchs would have been the third – only the third – to star in what is known as a State visit, the highest rank of diplomatic meetings. They are usually characterized by a stay of several days under the services of the White House, gala dinners and high-level formal acts. Trump had only given that rank to meetings with the French president Emmanuel Macron, in April 2018; and with the Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, in September 2019.
Felipe VI did meet with Trump in June 2018, but it was a lesser diplomatic meeting: an hour and a half meeting in the Oval Office.
Now, Moncloa tries that the new president, Joe Biden, assume as your own the commitment that Trump left pending. Exteriors has already begun to pull the strings so that the trip of Don Felipe and Doña Letizia is resumed and this is one of the first State visits that the Democratic president receives.
“It is premature to plan visits in the week of the inauguration”, explain sources from the Ministry of Arantxa González Laya to this newspaper, “because there is still a series of ratification processes for the top officials,” such as the interlocutor with whom Spanish diplomacy must deal and the team that directs US international relations. “But the Kings had an invitation from Trump for a state visit and the Covid did not allow it. We want to be able to resume“.
Epicenters of the virus
The then president of the United States did not even consider appearing in public with the mask despite the fact that New York – the port and airport of entry from Europe – became “the epicenter” of the Covid with a curve that looked like that wall that he himself built on the border with Mexico. Meanwhile, Spain was already in a state of alarm, the Royal House suspended its agenda and one of the key appointments of the year was canceled.
In any case, it would have been impossible to hold the encounter, since the world had stopped, intercontinental travel was prohibited, the Kings lived confined in Zarzuela and Spain was going through the worst of the pandemic.
Our country already exceeded the barrier of 200,000 confirmed cases, surpassing Italy, until then the worst country in Europe, and only behind the 700,000 US in the world, but with the highest cumulative incidence (134 vs 126).
“For the US and Spain to continue dedicating its resources and full attention to the response to COVID-19, the State visit to the White House of their Majesties King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain has been postponed“the White House reported in a statement.
“President Donald J. Trump and the First Lady Melania Trump they wish to welcome Their Majesties in the near future, “the note added. Finally, the statement remarked that “the US will continue working with Spain and all our European partners to minimize the coronavirus pandemic.”
Getting back on the agenda
Now, in the middle of the third wave, all countries treat their relationship with the virus. “We have learned”, explain government sources. But the truth is that economies cannot afford greater stoppages either, and with the arrival of vaccines – which in March 2020 they still did not imagine so soon – political leaders are trying to balance the messages of prudence with the needs to maintain the oiled international relations.
So, “Covid influences a lot” and Spain cannot aspire to speed up the processes, “but the contacts are going to be very important. “In a context in which the pandemic makes international movements” very limited “, Foreign hopes to take advantage of the” various European and transatlantic appointments “in the coming months to consolidate personal and ideological closeness between both administrations.
For example, and despite public disagreements and slights, the Sánchez government knows that in Washington, Even in Trump’s time, there have been two specific issues in which Spain is especially taken into account. Defense, security and counterterrorism, on the one hand, and the “Venezuelan issue”, on the other.
Since the “good news” that Biden’s victory brought to Moncloa in November, Foreign Affairs has already set to work to offer Washington a “special relationship” with our country, as a “loyal and solvent” partner. And of course, it is intended to lead “a plan that reunites the democratic opposition” against the tyranny of Nicolas Maduro In Venezuela.
“In both fields, we know that the voice of Spain is heard on one side and the other of the Atlantic“They recall in Foreign Affairs. The State visit of the Kings would be a perfect opportunity to visualize that alliance, and an unbeatable occasion to strengthen ties. But first you have to take positions.
Appointments to take advantage of
González Laya’s agenda, with no dates yet, has set milestones. For starters, Brussels: When a new US president arrives, he usually meets with the leaders of NATO and the European Union. Then Cornwall: The United Kingdom leads the G7 this year, and the summit is held – if the virus does not prevent it – next June in this county in the southwest of the United Kingdom.
“In addition, there are more multilateral appointments,” they recall in Foreign Affairs, “the NATO ministerial meeting, in February; that of ministers of Exteriors in Riga late March or early April … “.
They are all appointments on the international agenda that “promote transatlantic leaps” and bilateral contacts. “We are all interested in these meetings,” admits the Ministry, “but the calendar is affected by the alarm situation.” Do not forget that right now Europe is a red zone, and for example, most of the European Council summits are done electronically.