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June 17, 2018 No.
7526

Russia In The World – Russia-Spain Relations – Russian News Agency Sputnik: New Spanish FM Borrell Is No Friend Of Russia

"Russia In The World" is a MEMRI Russian Media Studies Project review of Russia's geopolitical interests and areas of penetration. This installment will deal with Russia-Spain relations.


The original image was taken from Studiya 13's Facebook page.


Spain's PM Pedro Sanchez (Source: Twitter.com/sanchezcastejon)

On June 2, Socialist Pedro Sanchez was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Spain, after ousting Mariano Rajoy in a vote of positive no-confidence. Shortly after, the Spanish version of the Russian media outlet Sputnik published an article, analyzing how the new Spanish government will handle its relations with Russia.

According to Sputnik, the new Spanish FM Josep Borrell, who served as president of the European Parliament between 2004 and 2007, is no friend of Russia. Hence, relations between the two countries are not expected to be particularly warm.

Below are excerpts from Sputnik's article:[1]

Borrell Blamed Russia For Having Started An Energy Crisis In Ukraine


Spain's FM Josep Borrell (Source: Twitter.com/conjosepBorrell)

"Socialist Pedro Sanchez formed Spain's new government. Josep Borrell, a veteran of Spanish politics, was appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Cooperation. How will Spain's policy towards Russia change after this appointment?

"Josep Borrell, who between 2004 and 2007 occupied the position of President of the European Parliament, has been acquainted with Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, for a long time. Their relationship is far from being friendly according to the Russian weekly Kommersant.

"In 2006, Borrell blamed Russia for having started an energy crisis in Ukraine. He did it during a meeting of the European leaders with the Russian president. 'We express our gratitude to Putin who, during this winter, cut the gas supplies to Ukraine and this is the reason why we are here to discuss a single energy policy,' said the politician on that occasion and also pointed out that human rights in Russia were in a 'critical state.'

"In response to these accusations, Putin asked the Spanish politician to refrain from teaching democracy.

"A diplomatic source declared to the Russian media that, for the moment, it is highly premature to give an estimate on how relations between Moscow and Madrid might evolve after this appointment. 'A consensus exists within the Spanish society on key questions related to foreign policy. For this reason, no major changes are to be expected,' declared the source while requesting to remain anonymous.

"Furthermore, political scientist Francesc Serra, of the Universidad Autonoma of Barcelona, in an interview to Kommersant, subscribes to the view that Borrell is a convinced supporter of a united Europe and has no doubts that the politician will follow the lines set by the EU [about Russia].

"When comparing Borrell to former Spanish minister of foreign affairs, Alfonso Dastis, Serra added that the new incumbent minister will have more flexibility in solving problems. Previously, Dastis has hardened Spanish policy towards Russia due to rumors that the Eurausian country had allegedly fostered the Catalan crisis.

"[Serra] agreed with the journalist that the escalation of tension in the relations between Russia and Spain had come to a halt due to the change of power both in Madrid and Barcelona. 'These changes might contribute to the development of a dialogue between the two countries. There is no reason for believing that Sanchez' foreign policy towards Russia will keep on getting tougher,' added the political scientist.

"The editor in chief of the Moscow bureau of the Spanish daily ABC, Rafael Mañueco, is personally acquainted with Josep Borrell. This journalist thinks that Borrell does not believe in the well-known myth about a threat allegedly emanating from Russia. 'Russia is not a threat to Europe from a military perspective,' said Borrell - one year ago in Moscow, during the presentation of a book by the journalist about the president of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev – as referred by Mañueco.

Ukrainian President Poroshenko Is The First Leader To Meet The New PM Sanchez


Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in Madrid on June 4, 3018. (Source: Lamoncloa.gob.es)

"Undoubtedly, this point of view totally differs from the message that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, recently tried to convey to Pedro Sanchez. The Ukrainian president was the first foreign leader to meet the new president of the Spanish government.

"After this meeting, Poroshenko manifested his conviction that the new Spanish authorities will support the need for Russia to withdraw its troops and artillery from Donbas. However, the experts that were interviewed by Kommersant presume that this visit will not affect future relations between Russia and Spain.

"Josep Borrell is a highly experienced politician who held important positions in every Socialist government. He was in charge of finding solutions to financial problems, labor and transport issues. By the beginning of the first decade of the years 2000, Borrell had gained ample experience in international relations, since he participated in drafting the text of the EU Constitution [which eventually did not enter into force] and dealt with issues related to reform of the EU."

 

 

[1] Mundo.sputniknews.com, June 7, 2018.