Spanish international relations

President Fox of Mexico arrived in Madrid yesterday accompanied by his Vice-President and no less than five ministers of the Mexican government (Finance, Employment, Energy, Culture and Tourism). He will be here for the rest of the week on an official visit aimed at strengthening economic and cultural relations between Mexico and Spain. Yesterday Fox visited an art exhibition by Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco and had a meeting with the Chairman of Telefónica, the Spanish telecom company, and Mexican businessmen.

Today the Mexican President has further meetings with key Spanish business leaders and this afternoon he and King Juan Carlos chair the official opening ceremony of ARCO the yearly contemporary art fair held in Madrid. Each year ARCO invites one country to participate in this prestigious art occasion, and this year the chosen country is Mexico. 17 Mexican art galleries have accepted the invitation to participate in the exhibition.

The cultural and historical ties between Mexico and Spain are obvious, and the role Fox could play in repairing the damaged relations between Spain and the USA could be very important.

For this reason, it is a little surprising that the Spanish president, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, has chosen this week to pay an official visit to Poland. If, as the Spanish government claims, the two core objectives of Spanish foreign policy now are a stronger role in Europe and stronger ties with Latin America, Zapatero should have been here to receive President Fox and accompany him during his 3-day visit to Spain. Especially as he went out of his way to give such a warm welcome to Venezuela’s controversial president Hugo Chavez just a few months ago. The Spanish president’s visit to Poland should not have coincided with the Mexican government’s visit to Spain.

Zapatero plans to receive President Fox tomorrow, on his return to Spain.

But by then the Mexican president will have held meetings on his own with all key business leaders, will have had lunch with the Royals, paid a visit to the Mayor of Madrid, and received Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the opposition PP party. He leaves Spain tomorrow afternoon.

Spanish foreign policy