Erik Martel, former diplomat: “The disagreement with Argentina has been the straw that broke the camel’s back”

A group of 15 retired diplomats have made public their rejection of the foreign action of Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government with respect to “two friendly countries like Argentina and Israel.” All of them have signed a “Declaration on some aspects of Spanish Foreign Policy”, in which they affirm that the Executive has not lived up to its responsibilities.

The signatory diplomats are: Inocencio Arias, José Ignacio Benavides, Manuel de la Cámara, Ignacio Camuñas, José Manuel Cervera, Javier Jiménez-Ugarte, Juan Leña, Erik Martel, Ramón de Miguel, Arturo Peréz, Luis Guillermo Perinat, Marquis of Perinat, Juan Prat, José Ramón Remacha, Eloy Ybáñez and José Antonio de Yturriaga. LA RAZÓN has spoken with one of them, Erik Markel, who was consul general in Houston, Miami, Andorra and special delegate in Gibraltar.

They sign a statement criticizing the Government… why?

We have been contemplating with a certain amazement a list of foreign policy decisions that, as professionals, we have tried without success to understand. I do not doubt that what happens to the signatories happens to a good part of the active Diplomatic Career. They understand that, protected as they are by their status as retirees, they must be given a voice. Some wonder why they don’t speak out, just as other senior state civil service bodies have done, through their professional associations. Well, because the Career, although it is a civil service to the State, functions in a military manner in everything related to discipline.

Because right now?

Perhaps the recent disagreement with the president of Argentina has been the last straw. He has been called into question by seeing the dignity of the State undermined by those who should most care for it. She was taken to a scuffle of teenagers shouting “and you more.”

«A good part of the diplomatic career feels discomfort, but remains silent because of its desire for public service»

One of the most criticized decisions is the shift regarding Western Sahara. Why are they so critical of Pedro Sánchez’s decision?

On the issue of the Sahara, Sánchez has made a “turn face.” Spain shamefully abandoned what was a Spanish overseas province and the Spanish natives of it. She did it forced by the famous Moroccan green march. In compensation, she recognized the right of those to decide, through a referendum, their future. This right has also been recognized by the UN. Morocco, without hesitation, converted the Sahara, against the will of the Sahrawis, into part of its national territory. Against all odds, Spain has defended it, together with the UN, until very recently, from one day to the next, Sánchez recognized the Moroccan identity of the Sahara. What national interests has Sánchez had in mind with this political Copernican turn that has cost so dearly in terms of our credibility? Perhaps it is the price that has had to be paid so that Morocco does not lead a new march, this time blue, occupying the riches of the Canarian territorial waters or giving us some scares in Ceuta or Melilla? Obviously not. Morocco has not changed its attitude one bit in these sections.

The consequence has been the enmity with Algeria, can Spain leave Algiers aside?

Kautilia, an Indian contemporary of Aristotle and one of the precursors of the science of international relations, already said that your neighbor’s neighbor is no less your neighbor. In addition to these reasons of neighborliness, Algeria had to be treated with care, since it is an influential member of the Arab League and the Organization of African Unity (OAU), where we are not interested in having enemies. Spain’s interest therefore determines that we have good relations with Algeria. The Moroccan pirouette of our Government has achieved the opposite.

The recognition of Palestine, what consequences can it have with Israel?

Israel’s problem is not really Israel’s problem. We should talk more about the problem of the United States. To confront the Jewish State is to do so, in effect, with the Americans. Regardless of this, relations with Israel provide certain benefits for Spain in the field of technology and, particularly, in relation to software and hardware. Let’s think about the issue of the “Pegasus” application that has caused so many headaches for our Government. On the other hand, the prestigious Israeli intelligence services need good relations between both countries to continue cooperating with the Spanish as they have been doing until now.

“The clash with Milei only sought to mobilize the electorate in the elections”

There is also discontent with Argentina, can it harm relations?

The clash between the governments of the two sister nations contains much more than meets the eye. With it, Sánchez was not only looking for a mechanism to mobilize his electorate in the face of the upcoming processes.

What weight does Spain currently have in the world?

Unfortunately there is no type of scale that can be used to evaluate said weight. But we can get an idea. We have renounced possible influence in our former colony or province of the Sahara and confronted our neighbor Algiers without having obtained anything in return from Morocco. Regarding our central alliance, the European Union, we have lost weight by going from being one of the rich countries, within the Union, to being one of the poor.