Tuesday, December 5

Sánchez trusts the support of United We Can to the increase in military spending and the presence of the US in Rota

Pedro Sánchez has taken advantage of the NATO summit in which the allies have promised, among other things, to increase the funds allocated to the alliance to set a timetable for the increase in military spending: Spain’s aim will be to reach 2% of Committed GDP in 2029. The roadmap is trusted for a long time and transcends even the current bipartisan, for which the socialist has proposed a kind of State Pact: “I hope we can reach a country agreement that transcends ideological issues ”. That is why he has asked United We Can for a “reflection” in which he has used as an argument the “tectonic change” that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has brought about and has given as an example the modification of the traditional “neutrality” of countries such as Sweden or Finland , which will form part of the Atlantic alliance after overcoming Turkey’s veto. Happy with the result that the meeting in Madrid has had for Spain, the president has also expressed confidence in receiving the support of his minority partner for the approval of the increase in the US presence in the Rota military base, despite the fact that United We Can has expressed its rejection of both the arrival of two new destroyers and the increase in defense spending.

NATO is committed to the “territorial integrity” of all allies, points to Russia and speaks of the “instrumentalization of migration”

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“Security is an essential condition to guarantee the coexistence model. We cannot give it up to guarantee it, we must protect it every day and dedicate resources”, said the president at the balance press conference of the summit in which he assured that Spain will comply with the commitment reached in 2014 of reaching 2% spending military, but that he will do it in eight years. Even so, he has indicated that “the Government is already working” so that the increase is reflected in the next General State Budgets. However, he has not specified how much the expected increase would be for the next financial year, which is the last for the current coalition government before the general elections.

United We Can and the rest of the leftist forces have shown their rejection of Sánchez’s intention. The Minister of Social Rights and leader of Podemos, Ione Belarra, aspires to “convince” the PSOE that “what Spain needs are more doctors and teachers and not more weapons,” reports Iñigo Aduriz. However, the socialist wing of the Government considers that everything is compatible and, above that, maintains that it is a compromise reached with the Atlantic alliance and also within the EU that has proved essential in the face of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That is why Sánchez has asked for a “reflection” from his minority partner, of whom he has said that until now he could have an “abstract position” on what military spending or NATO membership means.

But before the vote on the budgets, the entry of Sweden and Finland into the Atlantic alliance will take place. After being formally accepted in Brussels, expected on July 5, the decision has to go through the 30 parliaments of the NATO member states. Moncloa intends to be one of the first countries to ratify the entry and it will be the first opportunity to see the seams of the coalition regarding the expansion of the Atlantic alliance. The next one will probably be that of the budgets, although the Government has already made it clear that it will not take them to Congress if the support is not guaranteed beforehand. This project is the most complicated for Sánchez with the crisis with ERC and in a pre-election year.

Although the president has said that he hopes to bring to the Council of Ministers “soon” the modification of the agreement signed with the US in 1988 to expand the military presence at the Rota base, government sources maintain that it will still take some time. First, the Joe Biden Administration has to send the formal proposal of its intention to dock two new destroyer ships there. Subsequently, the Government has to expand this agreement and take it to Parliament. United We Can has also made clear its rejection of this military increase in Rota and Belarra has assured that he will try to “convince” the PSOE to rectify it. Sánchez has limited himself to answering with a brief “yes” to the question of whether he trusts having the support of his allies.

However, it is guaranteed that it will go ahead because the PP has expressed its favorable position. The Defense Minister, Margarita Robles, telephoned the Deputy Secretary and MEP, Esteban González Pons, to give him information about the agreement reached with Biden. However, Alberto Núñez Feijóo’s intention is to influence the gap that this issue causes in the coalition and has made the PP’s support for the increase in defense spending that Sánchez has signed with NATO subject to there being a government proposal “in its entirety”, informs Aitor Riveiro.

Beyond the discrepancies that this issue raises within the coalition, Sánchez has left the NATO summit held in Madrid euphoric and that the Secretary General, Jens Stoltenber, has described as “excellent, impeccable and perfect” in his organization. The president has assured that all the objectives that Spain had for the new strategic concept that will serve as the basis of operation for the next decade have been met. For the Executive it was especially important that the challenge of the southern flank be reflected and they consider that the introduction of the Sahel is an achievement. The intention is for NATO to put its “eyes” on that area in which Russia has entered through the Wagner mercenary company, to support the countries in the area and collaborate on intelligence issues or the placement of satellites. “We strengthened those countries, but the ones that come out stronger are the southern NATO countries,” state government sources. Sánchez has referred to terrorism, irregular migration, climate change or the food crisis as challenges that the Atlantic alliance has to face in that area.

“The debate on Ceuta and Melilla is more artificial than real”

“The strategic concept makes it very clear that every centimeter of the NATO members will be defended,” Sánchez replied about the allusion made in the document to the defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the allies, which is interpreted as an inclusion of Ceuta and Melilla under the protection umbrella of the Atlantic alliance and that were left out according to the definition of article 6 of the Washington Treaty. Sánchez has tried, however, to downplay it given that the Government maintains that they have never been in danger, despite the claim by Morocco. “Ceuta and Melilla are Spain. This is how we have always understood it from the Government, not only us but all the presidents [ha dicho tras cuestionar que esa pregunta no se la hicieran a Felipe González, José María Aznar, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero o Mariano Rajoy en su día]. I think it’s a more artificial than real debate.”

“On Ceuta and Melilla, NATO protects all its allies against any threat,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during his last press conference at the Madrid summit. “In the end, there will always be a political decision to invoke Article 5,” he added. This article is the one that establishes that the attack against a Member State will be considered as an attack against all. Before the summit, the Government already maintained that Ceuta and Melilla were “totally protected by NATO”.

The founding treaty of NATO establishes that, for the purposes of Article 5, the armed attack in question must take place “in the territory of any of the parties in Europe or North America” “or in the islands under the jurisdiction of any of the parts in the area north of the Tropic of Cancer”, which includes the Canary Islands. Said definition excludes Ceuta and Melilla from the umbrella of Article 5.