Middle East and the Maghreb

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Middle East and the Maghreb

King Juan Carlos speaks before Moroccan Parliament in 2005. Alberto Martín (EFE)
King Juan Carlos speaks before Moroccan Parliament in 2005. Alberto Martín (EFE)

The Spanish foreign policy is really active in the Maghreb and the Middle East. Mutual understanding between cultures and civilisations has always been part of the political agenda of Spanish governments, aimed at resolving conflicts, building trade ties and finding business opportunities.

Spain and the Maghreb

Geographic proximity, historical links and fruitful economic, cultural and human exchanges have cemented and boosted Spain’s relations with the Maghreb countries – Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya. Since early 2011, these countries have been the setting of a series of dramatic transformations that together make the so-called Arab Spring.

 

Spain has made major contributions to the inclusion of Maghreb-related issues in the EU agenda.

In connection with the Western Sahara case, Spain has suggested a fair, lasting and mutually acceptable solution in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Our country sticks to its humanitarian commitment, being the most important bilateral aid donor for refugee camps.

Economically, Spain has strong trade ties and makes heavy investments in both Morocco and Algeria. Actually, the Maghreb countries are among our most important energy suppliers.

The nine Instituto Cervantes schools in the region and the activities organised by Casa Árabe in Madrid and Córdoba, and by Casa Mediterráneo in Alicante and Benidorm promote mutual understanding in the cultural sphere.

Besides, Spain plays a key role in the Euro-Mediterranean Space, having made major contributions to the inclusion of Maghreb-related issues in the EU agenda. During the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU (Jan-Jun 2010), the 1st EU-Morocco Summit was held in Granada.

Spain and the Middle East

Spain is committed to the resolution of conflicts like the Arab-Israeli or the Syrian civil war. In line with this, our country makes positive contributions to the search for global lasting solutions, both in the context of the EU and through bilateral talks. Spain was a staunch supporter of the Madrid Conference of 1991, an attempt by the international community to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process through negotiations.

Moreover, our country has an active cultural policy focusing on the Middle East as carried out by embassies, Instituto Cervantes, Casa Árabe, the Sepharad Centre Israel and Casa Mediterráneo.

Also, Spain has signed a series of trade agreements enabling Spanish firms to export goods and technology to the Middle East. In 2012, a Spanish-Saudi consortium was set up to develop a high-speed rail line connecting the cities of Medina, Jeddah and Mecca in Saudi Arabia.