The representative of Spain in NATO and the next ambassador to Italy, Miguel Ángel Fernández-Palacios, together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, last June in Madrid. Carlos Lujan (Europa Press)
The Government will send as ambassador to Italy the current permanent representative of Spain to NATO, the diplomat Miguel Fernández-Palacios, as confirmed by foreign sources. As the new ambassador in Rome, Fernández-Palacios will have to establish relations with the future Italian government that emerged from the elections this Sunday, in which the far-right Giorgia Meloni, leader of the Brothers of Italy, is the favorite in all the polls.
The appointment of the current ambassador to NATO, announced by the specialized website The Diplomat in Spain, is a reward for the success of the NATO summit in Madrid last June, but also a message to the new Italian authorities: Spain, Like other European countries, it is concerned about the openly favorable attitude towards Putin of two right-wing coalition partners, Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini, and the possibility that Rome will drop from the EU’s common front in the face of the invasion of Ukraine. Fernández-Palacios, with personal ties to Italy, has been ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia and has led the Cabinet of José Bono as Minister of Defense and President of the Congress of Deputies.
Fernández-Palacios will replace Alfonso Dastis, the last Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government of Mariano Rajoy, as ambassador in Rome. Dastis, who has just served four years in the post, will be the new Spanish ambassador in Budapest (Hungary), precisely the EU country closest to Putin. The European Parliament has ruled that Viktor Orbán’s regime “is not a full democracy, but a hybrid regime of electoral autocracy” and the European Commission has threatened to suspend the delivery of 7,500 million euros in aid if he does not address reforms against the corruption. Dastis will not be able to foreseeably complete the usual cycle of four years at the head of an embassy, since he only has three left to reach the retirement age of diplomats (70 years).
The replacement for Fernández-Palacios as Spain’s representative to NATO will be the diplomat Federico Torres, current Director General of Foreign and Security Policy, who is responsible for matters related to the Atlantic Alliance at the Ministry. Unlike the previous ones, his appointment does not require prior approval, so it will take place at the time his predecessor is appointed ambassador to Rome.
Foreign sources assure that, beyond these changes and other minor ones, Minister José Manuel Albares does not plan changes in the most important embassies when there is little more than a year left in the legislature. Not even the ambassador in Rabat, Ricardo Díez-Hochletner, who has broken all records, with more than seven years in office. His replacement was delayed by the bilateral crisis with Morocco and Albares has decided to keep him until he retires, in June of next year, so that he can lead the process of normalizing relations, the next milestone of which will be the holding of the Meeting of High Level (RAN) suspended in December 2020.
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