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After the return of democracy following the death of General Franco in 1975, Spain's foreign policy priorities were to break out of the diplomatic isolation of the Franco years and expand diplomatic relations, enter the European Community, and define security relations with NATO, later joining the organisation in 1982.

Spain has established itself as a major participant in multilateral international security activities. Spain's EU membership represents an important part of its foreign policy. Even on many international issues beyond western Europe, Spain prefers to coordinate its efforts with its EU partners through the European political cooperation mechanisms.


Regional relations

Spain has maintained its special identification with its fellow Spanish-speaking countries. Its policy emphasizes the concept of an Ibero-American community, essentially the renewal of the historically liberal concept of "Hispano-Americanismo" (or hispanism as it is often referred to in English), which has sought to link the Iberian peninsula to the Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America through language, commerce, history and culture. Spain has been an effective example of transition from dictatorship to democracy, as shown in the many trips that Spain's King and Prime Ministers have made to the region. Spain maintains economic and technical cooperation programs and cultural exchanges with Latin America, both bilaterally and within the EU.

Meanwhile, Spain has gradually begun to broaden its contacts with Sub-Saharan Africa. It has a particular interest in its former colony of Equatorial Guinea, where it maintains a large aid program. More recently Madrid has sought closer relation with Senegal, Mauritania, Mali and others to find solutions for the issue of illegal immigration to the Canary Islands.

Spain is also known as a broker in the Middle East. In its relations with the Arab world, Spain frequently supports Arab positions on Middle East issues. The Arab countries are a priority interest for Spain because of oil and gas imports and because several Arab nations have substantial investments in Spain.

Spain has been successful in managing its relations with its two European neighbours, France and Portugal. The accession of Spain and Portugal to the EU has helped ease some of their periodic trade frictions by putting these into an EU context. Franco-Spanish bilateral cooperation is enhanced by joint action against Basque ETA terrorism. Ties with the United Kingdom are generally good, although the question of Gibraltar remains a sensitive issue.

Today, Spain is trying to expand its still narrow relations with east Asian nations. The People's Republic of China and Japan are the main points of interest for Spain in the region. Thailand and Indonesia are Spain's main allies in the ASEAN region, having a considerable number of agreements and a very good relationship. In the recent years Spain has also been boosting its contacts, relations and investment in other Asian countries, most notably Vietnam, South Korea and Malaysia. Relations with the Philippines are, despite of the colonial past, considerably weaker than the ones Spain has with other countries in the area, dealing mostly with cultural aspects and humanitary assistance programs.

Disputes - international

Disputed status of Gibraltar with the United Kingdom; Spain controls five places of sovereignty (plazas de soberanía) on and off the coast of Morocco - the coastal enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, which Morocco contests, as well as the islands of Peñon de Alhucemas, Peñon de Vélez de la Gomera, and Islas Chafarinas; by the Vienna Treaty of 1815, Spain recognized the Portuguese claims over Olivenza as "legitimate", but didn't agree to return the place to Portugal. The historic disputes with this country about the government of the Savage Islands in the Atlantic Ocean disappeared in recent times.

Illicit drugs

Spain is a key European gateway country for Latin American cocaine and North African hashish entering the European market. It is also a consumer of south-west Asian heroin.

Bilateral relations


Country Formal Relations Began Notes
 Belarus 1992-02-13
 Bulgaria 1910-05-08
 Croatia 1992-03-09 See Croatia–Spain relations
 Cyprus See Foreign relations of Cyprus
 Denmark See Foreign relations of Denmark
 Estonia See Foreign relations of Estonia
 Finland See Foreign relations of Finland

Spain has very good relations with France, especially since May 16, 2007, when Nicolas Sarkozy was elected President of France. The police of Spain and France are now cooperating to suppress the terrorist group ETA.


Spain had very good relations with Germany, until since March 14, 2004, when Zapatero was elected Spanish Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's relationship with the present Chancellor, Angela Merkel, is less close but remains civil.

 Greece See Foreign relations of Greece
 Holy See 1530 See Holy See – Spain relations
 Hungary See Foreign relations of Hungary
 Ireland See Foreign relations of the Republic of Ireland
 Italy See Italy–Spain relations

Both countries established diplomatic relations after the unification of Italy. Relations between Italy and Spain have remained strong and affable for centuries owing to various political, cultural, and historical connections between the two nations. In the Early modern period, southern and insular Italy came under Spanish control, having being previously a domain of the Crown of Aragon. This extended period of foreign domination left marked influences in the modern southern Italian dialects. During the Spanish civil war, the Corps of Volunteer Troops, a fascist expeditionary force from Italy, supported the Nationalist forces led by Francisco Franco. It's estimated that around 75,000 Italians fought in the war.

 Malta 1977
 Moldova 1992-01-30 See Moldova–Spain relations

As of 2009 Spain does not have an Embassy in Chişinău. Spain is represented in Moldova through Ambassador D. Juan Pablo García-Berdoy Cerezo in Bucharest in Romania.

In 2008, the Spanish government indicated that 12,582 Moldovan citizens were legally working there.[7] Spain is a significant investor in Moldova through Unión Fenosa which owns three of Moldova's five energy distribution companies.[8]

 Portugal See Portugal–Spain relations

Relations between Portugal and Spain are also good. They cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking and tackling forest fires (common in the Iberian Peninsula in summers), for example. These close relations are facilitated by similar governments: the government of conservative Spanish PM José María Aznar coincided with the government of also conservative José Manuel Durão Barroso in Portugal; today, both José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain and José Sócrates of Portugal are socialists.

Portugal also holds claim to the disputed territory of Olivença in the Portuguese-Spanish border.

 Romania 1967-01-05
 Russia 1520

See Russia–Spain relations

  • Russia has an embassy in Madrid and a consulate-general in Barcelona.
  • Spain has an embassy in Moscow.

Spain and the Grand Duchy of Moscow first exchanged envoys in 1520s; regular embassies were established in 1722. Soviet-Spanish relations, once terminated after the Spanish Civil War, were gradually reestablished since 1963 and fully established in 1977. Trade between two countries amounts to two billion Euros (2008); in March 2009 two countries signed an energy agreement providing national energy companies access to other party's domestic markets.

 Serbia 1916-10-14
 Turkey See Spanish–Turkish relations
 Ukraine 1992-01-30
 United Kingdom See Spain–United Kingdom relations

In 2001 60,000 Spanish born people were living in the UK, and 160,000 British people were of Spanish descent, in total estimates state 960,000 UK citizens as having full or partial Spanish blood (with the remaining 800,000 being South Americans of Spanish descent). In comparison it is estimated that 990,000 British born people live in Spain, the ancestral numbers are likely to be much, much lower, as British people have only recently begun to migrate to Spain (the coastal areas in particular) post retirement and/ or for work. See also Spanish Briton, Latin American Briton.

Latin America

With Latin American countries: During Aznar's government, Spanish relations with some Latin-American countries like Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba got worse, but were exceptionally good with others like Colombia, Dominican Republic and several Central America small republics. Zapatero's victory in the 2004 general elections changed this setting. Today, relations with Venezuela are quite good, which has caused an upset with the United States, who have been in recent conflicts with Venezuela via both countries presidents and Venezuela's growing relations with "Anti-American Nations", such as Cuba, China, and several other nations including Russia and Islamic Middle Eastern countries.

Besides Venezuela, the Spanish government has strongly increased its relations in recent years with Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Country Formal Relations Began Notes

A diplomatic crisis with Bolivia in 2005 due to a misunderstanding was quickly resolved by Zapatero and Spain became the first European country visited by Evo Morales in January 4, 2006. However, there remain problems surrounding the exploitation of oil and gas fields in the country by Spanish corporations like Repsol.

Bolivian President Evo Morales met King Juan Carlos and held talks with Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero during a visit to Spain in September 2009 with the intention of resolving issues concerning the nationalisation of the Bolivian energy sector. The move has the potential to hurt some Spanish companies however relations were said to be "positive" between the Bolivian state and Spanish private sector energy companies. Evo Morales said that Bolivia is ready to accept outside investment in its energy and natural resource industries as long as foreign firms do not act as owners and that Bolivia is "looking for investment, be it from private or state sector. We want partners, not owners of our natural resources."

It was suggested that Bolivia would also negotiate with Spanish companies to produce car parts and lithium batteries in the future.[18]

 Cuba Relations with Cuba have historically been better. The relations with Cuba were always good, even during the strongly anti-communist dictatorship of Francisco Franco. This is a historic cause of little frictions with the United States.
 Mexico See Mexico–Spain relations
  • Mexico currently has an embassy in Madrid and a consulate-general in Barcelona.
  • Spain has an embassy in Mexico City and two consulates-general in the country; in Guadalajara and in Monterrey.
  • During the Spanish Civil War, Mexican volunteers joined the Republican side to fight Francisco Franco. Though the Republicans had lost the war, this helped improve the relationship between the two countries. Also, many Spanish immigrants immigrated to Mexico to escape the Spanish Civil War.
 Paraguay 1880-09-10 See Paraguay–Spain relations
 Uruguay See Spain–Uruguay relations


Country Formal relations began Notes
 Armenia 1992-01-27
 Canada See Foreign relations of Canada
 Israel 1975
 Morocco Spain continues to focus attention Morocco. This concern is dictated by geographic proximity and long historical contacts, as well as by the two Spanish exclave cities of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern coast of Africa. While Spain's departure from its former colony of Western Sahara ended direct Spanish participation in Morocco, it maintains an interest in the peaceful resolution of the conflict brought about there by decolonization. These issues were highlighted by a crisis in 2002, when Spanish forces evicted a small contingent of Moroccans from a tiny islet off Morocco's coast following that nation's attempt to assert sovereignty over the Spanish island.
 North Korea 2001 With the normalization of diplomatic relations with North Korea in 2001, Spain completed the process of universalizing its diplomatic relations.
 United States See Spain – United States relations

Under the government of José María Aznar, Spain developed exceptionally good relations with the USA, in great part due to the personal empathy between Aznar and George W. Bush. Following Zapatero's decision to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq immediately after the 2004 general elections, relations predictably soured, although important commercial links remained intact. When elected, President Barack Obama expressed his wish to enhance cooperation between both countries, specially in policies like the Green Energy plan from Zapatero [26] , introducing the AVE (the Spanish High Speed Train) in United States [27] and aiding US by receiving in Spanish prisons Guantanamo Prison detainees [28]

See also

Further reading

  • Gillespie, Richard (April 2007). "Spanish foreign policy: party alternatives or the pursuit of consensus?". Journal of Southern Europe and the Balkans 9 (1): 29–45. doi:10.1080/14613190701216995. 


  1. ^ Bulgarian embassy in Madrid
  2. ^ Spanish embassy in Sofia (in Bulgarian and Spanish only)
  3. ^ Croatian embassy in Madrid (in Croatian and Spanish only)
  4. ^ Spanish embassy in Zagreb (in Spanish only)
  5. ^ List of Maltese representations in Spain
  6. ^ Spanish embassy in Valletta (in Spanish only)
  7. ^ "Extranjeros con tarjeta de residencia en vigor incluidos en el Régimen General según nacionalidad y tipo de autorización de residencia. 31-12-2008". Secretaría de Estado de Inmigración y Emigración. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  8. ^ "Moldova". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  9. ^ Romanian embassy in Madrid(in Romanian and Spanish only)
  10. ^ Romanian general consulate in Barcelona (in Romanian and Spanish only)
  11. ^ Romanian general consulate in Sevilla (in Romanian and Spanish only)
  12. ^ Spanish embassy in Bucharest (in Spanish only)
  13. ^ Serbian embassy in Madrid (in Serbian and Spanish only)
  14. ^ Spanish embassy in Belgrade (in Serbian and Spanish only)
  15. ^ Turkish embassy in Madrid
  16. ^ Spanish embassy in Kiev (in Spanish and Ukrainian only)
  17. ^ Ukrainian embassy in Madrid (in Spanish and Ukrainian only)
  18. ^
  19. ^ Paraguayan embassy in Madrid (in Spanish only)
  20. ^ Paraguayan general consulate in Barcelona (in Spanish only)
  21. ^ Paraguayan consulate in Malaga (in Spanish only)
  22. ^ Spanish embassy in Asuncion (in Spanish only)
  23. ^ Spanish embassy in Montevideo (in Spanish only)
  24. ^ Israeli embassy in Madrid (in Spanish only)
  25. ^ Spanish embassy in Tel Aviv (in Hebrew and Spanish only)
  26. ^ "Renewable Energy in Spain: Details on the Government's New FIT Regulation". 
  27. ^ "Obama's Transportation Secretary Impressed by Spain’s AVE".,2958,35868_594951_1026487_4224024,00.html. 
  28. ^ "Spain offers to help Obama in closing Guantanamo". 

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