Spanish government unwilling to condemn Donald Trump travel ban on Muslims

Education Minister and government spokesperson Íñigo Méndez de Vigo.

Spain will maintain its bilateral relations with the United States, “making clear what our principles are, not shouting out nor being too strident.” That’s according to statements made on Tuesday by the Spanish government’s spokesperson, Íñigo Méndez de Vigo, who will be the main point of contact between Spain and the government of US President Donald Trump.

For his part, the Spanish foreign affairs minister, Alfonso Dastis, did not go much further into detail as to how Spain would approach the controversial new world leader, saying that relations with the United States must be “excellent,” adding that “among friends, things should be stated clearly,” and that this is the approach that will be taken with the new administration.

Some leaders from European Union countries have already voiced their criticism of one of the most controversial measures so far taken by Trump: an entry ban on citizens from seven countries, all of which have a majority Muslim population. France has called for a “firm response,” while Germany stated that the fight against terrorism “does not justify putting a people from a specific confession or past under general suspicion.” The United Kingdom, meanwhile, has opened lines of dialogue with the Trump presidency.

After three days of chaos at US airports in the wake of Trump’s executive order, and the criticism voiced from a number of different sectors in his own country, Spain has taken a less forceful position on the issue than other EU partners.

But Méndez de Vigo denied that Spain’s profile was “more discrete” than that of Germany, the UK or France.

“Right from the start we have maintained a clear position,” the government spokesman said at a breakfast meeting organized by news agency Europa Press in Madrid on Tuesday. He went on to explain that the Spanish government had called on Mexico and the US to rebuild their relations after the damage done by Trump’s announcement of the construction of a border wall that would separate both countries.

Méndez de Vigo went on to highlight the fact that it is very important for Spain to maintain good relations with its partners and allies. “The relationship with the US has not always been like this,” he said, in reference to the strained relations between the two countries when José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), was prime minister – primarily due to the PSOE government’s opposition to the 2003 war in Iraq.

Méndez de Vigo, who is also the education and culture minister in the Spanish Cabinet, stated on Tuesday that “the best way” to behave with an ally is to speak to them “clearly and frankly,” both bilaterally as well as within the framework of the EU.

Published Tumbit 01 February 2017

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