Spain is renewing its efforts to cooperate with America against global terrorism the Spanish ambassador to the United States said during a speech last week in the ICC.

Ambassador Carlos Westerndorp addressed Spain’s decision to withdraw its troops from Iraq in spring 2004 following terrorist attacks against Madrid’s public transportation system. He said that the decision was a great disappointment to the U.S. government, and that bilateral relations between the two countries suffered.

Westerndorp said that this impasse was only temporary, however.

“[U.S.-Spanish relations] have come back to what they should be – intense, balanced and within the context of mutual respect,” he said.

Westerndorp also said that the United States’ handling of the war in Iraq damaged its reputation with the European Union. Both parties have “overcome this turbulent period,” he said.

Unable to enlist European support in Iraq, Westerndorp said that the United States has led itself into the familiar predicament of isolation.

“Isolationism is not new in this country,” he said.

Westerndorp added that European nations have distanced themselves from many U.S. foreign policy initiatives as a result of the war.

He said that the United States and European Union should work together to combat nuclear threats and poverty around the globe. adding that increased cooperation would be particularly useful for stabilizing the Middle East and the Balkans.

“We need to do it together,” he said.

Westerndorp characterized Spain, the United States and the European Union as three actors forming a “triangle of international relations.”

Westerndorp also addressed Turkey’s prospective admission into the European Union, saying that current members should be tolerant of cultural and religious differences because the bloc lacks any religious affiliation.

He added that Turkey is moving “gradually to democracy – full democracy,” and said that European nations have a right to join the European Union, although he is unsure whether expansion would benefit the organization.

During the question-and-answer period that followed his talk, Westerndorp addressed Spain’s influence in Latin America.

Westerndorp said that Spain is doing as much in the region as it can afford to. He said that the United States agrees with Spain about the importance of expanding democracy to the region despite differences in their approach.

“[On] fundamental issues we coincide,” Westerndorp said.

Westerndorp said that the prospect of democratizing Latin America is an immense task with great possibilities.

“Let us not waste them,” he said.

The lecture was sponsored by the BMW for German and European Studies.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.