The President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, in New York before the intervention before the UN General Assembly.MONCLOA / Europa Press
The erupting volcano on La Palma has forced Pedro Sánchez to limit his visit to New York to the minimum in the UN General Assembly, but the president has maintained the line of speech he had in mind.
In an especially tense summit, dominated by the rivalry between the US and China - "we do not want a new cold war," Joe Biden went on to say - and especially by the crisis between Washington and Paris over the contract for the Australian nuclear submarines that finally will not build France but the US, Sánchez has concentrated in the few hours he has spent in New York in seeking a role of mediation and closed defense of multilateralism at a time when several countries are committed to locking themselves in nationalism.
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As a sign of Spain's willingness to bet on keeping this global spirit alive, Sánchez announced during his speech before the General Assembly that Spain will donate a total of 30 million vaccines to countries that need them.
Especially to Latin America, a continent in which Spain has great historical, political and economic ties and where it wants to retain its influence.
Sánchez assures that he has already fulfilled the commitment to send 7.5 million vaccines to Latin America - an important effort for Spain but with limited effect in an area with 650 million inhabitants - and will now double that amount with another 7.5 million.
The advance of vaccination in Spain allows us to think about these donations without causing an internal controversy.
The president has launched a clearly progressive speech, against inequality and even claiming the pact to establish a minimum tax of 15% on all companies worldwide, something that is precisely now being negotiated in Spain with United We Can. the truth is that, despite appearances, the virus also respected inequalities. The poorest regions did not have health infrastructures to contain the disease or resources to build a social shield to protect their citizens from the economic crisis. He has even appealed to his personal trajectory, with his grandfather as a reference. “My political vocation was born with a teaching from my grandfather that I never forget, especially valuable in these times: that inequality only creates poverty in the long term,and that what is fair for everyone ends up always being beneficial for everyone ”.
Sánchez has made a very tough analysis of the inequality left by the pandemic. “The truth is that, despite appearances, the virus also respected inequalities. The poorest regions did not have health infrastructures to contain the disease or resources to build a social shield to protect their citizens from the economic crisis. They are victims of an unjust and unsustainable development model, and of the climatic and health emergencies that we are currently experiencing. That is why I call to defend the existence of solid states with resources that can guarantee the well-being of citizens according to values of justice, progress and equality. It is essential to promote a fair recovery that closes the large inequality gaps that we have.I call for defending democracy as the only alternative against any totalitarian, exclusive and intolerant drift. And I call for defending international cooperation and multilateralism as the only way to provide real solutions to the challenges facing the world today ”, he concluded.
The president has even been against patents. “I want to remember that patent rights cannot be an obstacle in this global health emergency situation. For this reason, I reiterate my proposal to resolve production and distribution bottlenecks, including a possible temporary exemption from patents on vaccines and the elimination of obstacles along the value chain ”, he insisted.
“We want to fight against poverty and exclusion in all its forms, in Spain and in the world, reforming our development model in order to make it more sustainable. That is why we celebrate the historic agreement on international taxation reached at the beginning of July. And from here I call on all countries to join the agreement and make its implementation possible as soon as possible ”, he assured.
Sánchez claims that Spain has been the first country in the EU to have 100% of those over 80 vaccinated, and has become one of the countries that donates the most, at least in percentage terms. “We are the seventh country in the world that donates the most vaccines and the third in the EU. This shows our solidarity ”, assured the president. Spain plans to donate 22 million vaccines to the Covax system, which distributes them among various countries, 15 of them for Latin America. It will also give another 7.5 million to sub-Saharan Africa and the so-called southern neighborhood countries of the EU, bringing it to 30 million. In the future it is foreseeable that Spain will increase its donations even more, because according to the president the needs are enormous. While western countries are thinking about the third dose,dozens of third world countries are far from implementing the first.
Defense of multilateralism
The heart of Sánchez's speech is that defense of multilateralism that has become a central element of his government's policy, much more concerned with the international agenda than the previous ones. And also of democracy, in his opinion it threatens by extremism. “History has taught us that no country achieves a transcendental goal from one-sidedness, from individuality, from loneliness in the middle of a globalized world. The enemy of multilateralism is extremism; Let us not be fooled by those who from selfishness and individualism want us to believe that the collective causes that unite us are causes that do not deserve effort. Because the fight for democracy does not only refer us to Afghanistan. It affects the five continents, and is also fought in the most developed countries of the world.It is a daily fight against those who want to impose inequality, benefiting a few; those who seek to exclude or blame the most vulnerable minorities; those who call hatred for reasons of origin, sex or belief; who appeal to walls and borders to prevent the advance of the ideas of equality and freedom, of fraternity. Without a doubt, democracy is threatened ”.
However, while Sánchez delivered this speech in favor of understanding, the General Assembly made it clear that the real situation is very different and several presidents were going in the opposite direction. The general atmosphere was one of great concern. To the point that the UN Secretary General, the Portuguese Antonio Guterres, went so far as to say that “the world has never been so threatened or so divided” and spoke of a “path to the abyss”. The climate emergency, which Sánchez also mentioned, helps this sensation.
In addition, an issue that also worries Spain, host of the NATO summit in Madrid in 2022, has crept into this assembly, and it is the conflict between the United States and France on account of the Australian nuclear submarines. Sánchez met in New York with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary general, to discuss this matter and provide a possible mediation position and also to save the Madrid summit, which may be dominated by this enormous tension if it is not resolved. France has called the ambassador in Washington for consultations, an unprecedented decision. “We have to address disagreement these days as a result of the way in which a new military contract has been announced by the US and the United Kingdom. He has transferred all my support to the Secretary General of NATO to regain trust among allies, ”said Sánchez.
Spain avoids the harsh tone against Biden from other European countries, and tries to seek an intermediate position, but sympathizes with Macron, a key ally in the EU. “We defend greater international cohesion and a rules-based international order. We have made ourselves available to the Secretary General of NATO. I already expressed at the Athens summit all the solidarity of the Government of Spain in the face of the breaking of an important contract for France. We put ourselves at the disposal of NATO to solve the problem, ”Sánchez insisted.
The president and especially his new foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, also took advantage of the visit to talk about Morocco and, in the case of the foreign minister, to talk with his counterpart from this country. Sánchez is looking forward to finally resolving the crisis and being able to travel to this country to organize a summit that was postponed in 2020. “A new government is being formed in Morocco. We are going to wait for it to be established. We are facing a great opportunity to reestablish relations with Morocco in a more solid way and with new foundations ”, the president assured the press. Sánchez also defended the government's action in the crisis that caused the latest escalation with Morocco, the reception of the Sahrawi leader Brahim Gali. “There was a humanitarian request to save the life of a person who was about to die.Spain gave a humanitarian response. The Government of Spain did what it should and did it as it should, according to the law, "concluded the president.
Sánchez is thus committed to turning the page with Morocco and above all to focusing on his commitment to multilateralism and that profile of a social democratic leader who supports the large international organizations and seeks a moderate profile in international politics.
And the UN is the ideal setting to promote that image, although this year in a very limited way because of the volcano on La Palma.