Foreign Minister Josep Pique greets President Bush and his wife in Madrid./ Photo: ARR/La Razón
The Diplomat. 07/06/2016
The White House announced yesterday that Barack Obama will visit Spain from 9 to 11 July after the NATO summit in Warsaw (Poland). The last time a US president visited Spain was on 12 June 15 years ago.
George W. Bush came to Spain in 2001, when he started his first mandate, when the world lived in that simplicity inherited from the nineties that preceded the storm of the attacks of 11 September that year. The republican leader chose Spain as the first stop of his European presentation tour. That was a huge deference to our country. José María Aznar entertained Bush by taking him to the governmental reserve Quintos de Mora (Toledo), a place that the spokesperson of the White House described as “Aznar’s ranch”.
After the massacre of 11-M in Madrid in 2004 and the change of government in Moncloa, the cold war between Bush and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero started. Bush never forgave Zapatero for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq.
That anomalous situation made Bush not to even think about coming to Spain in his second mandate, an affront served cold for Zapatero that the socialist Government thought would end after the victory of Barack Obama in November 2008. However, almost eight years have passed since the first black president entered the White House and the first news about him visiting Spain were received yesterday. Throughout that time, Obama has been to France six times and five to the United Kingdom and Germany, he has visited countries of the European east such as Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic or Estonia, and Nordic places such as Sweden or Denmark.
In June 2010, he was about to visit Spain for the summit EU-US, but the fiasco of the previous year in Prague, where he confirmed first-hand the lack of leadership of Europeans and a great profusion of posts (president of the Council, president of the Commission, president of Parliament, rotating president of the EU, etc.), took him to cancel this type of meetings. Things had not changed with Mariano Rajoy and the consequence of that is that Spain was the last big country of the Old Continent he still had not visited.
Obama has already been to France six times and has visited countries such as the UK or Germany five times
The US Ambassador to Spain, James Costos, used the opportunity of the announcement from Washington to emphasize the strength of business relations between both countries. Spain is the ninth largest and one of the fastest growing investors in the United States, with a direct investment of almost 60 billion dollars and subsidiaries of Spanish companies employing 81,000 American workers in sectors such as banking, renewable energy, infrastructure construction or the food industry. At the same time, the United States is now the largest foreign investor in Spain.
In defence and security, Spain and the United States work “together around the globe to promote democracy, security and freedom”, pointed out Costos in a statement. Spain has hosted permanently assigned US military staff for more than 60 years. Today, there are close to 4,000 staff and four destroyers at Naval Station Rota and Morón Air Base.