Interview with D. Manuel María Lejarreta Lobo, current Secretary General of the Institution Consejo España-EE.UU.

MR. LEJARRETA

(Source: Transdoc )

Last May 22th I had the honour of interviewing Mr. Lejarreta, the current Secretary General of the Institution Consejo España-EE.UU. I began the interview asking about President Trump and the events that have influenced his election, as well as, commenting if the presidency might be too big for him.

Mr. Lejarreta answered saying that there are two main factors that could explain his victory. The first one is that many people from deep rural America have not benefited from the latest US governments and globalization has hurt them. They have wanted to give a mandate of disruptive power with a new president from a non-traditional political class who has a different mentality.

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton was a worn out candidate. “A lady who was already very damaged by the establishment” he said. Trump was a hope for those Americans who felt abandoned.

Other factors, like the rise of nationalism, as it is currently happening in Europe with Brexit or the fear of terrorist attacks, have determined his victory. One third of the crimes committed in the United States are by illegal immigrants, a very negative figure against immigration. A speech against immigration or in favour of highly controlled immigration is always welcomed by voters. Trump has exaggerated a lot on the terrorist issue. For Lejarreta, Trump’s messages are simple, populist and very basic, convincing large masses to vote him. Many of his promises made Trump win many followers.

On the question of whether Trump is prepared to be president, the secretary arguments that his profile is effectively not the most suitable to lead the United States seen so far, but the important part is the result.

Mr Manuel gave me an example in the economic area. The American stock market is increasing and the US economy goes quite well which means there is some confidence in Trump’s economic factors. Also many companies have reacted well in his protectionist proposals.

In addition, although the United States has a presidential system in which the president commands, there are some state control devices to help moderate. In that sense, although the work of the president is very important, not all foreign and domestic politics of the country are directed by him. In principle at the intellectual level, he has enough potential. We have to see his personal impulses and his way of leading companies. Being president is something very difficult but Mr Lejarreta puts his trust in Trump and in the possibility that he could be a successful president.

Then, we talked about some of Trump’s promises. We touched on the theme of his desire for the country to leave the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Mr. Lejarreta remarked that Trump is a protectionist and prefers bilateral agreements than multilaterals. He prefers negotiating directly with a country, face to face. The secretary added that we used to have multilateralism with Obama and, under his point of view, he prefers this system.

Regarding the US’ influence in the Asia-Pacific region, Mr Lejarreta completely agrees that the United States will not lose power in the area, because in his opinion, the Asia-Pacific region is the most important region for the United States and will continue to be.

He explained that the US has plans to make his fleet more present and has begun to establish trade agreements with Japan and South Korea. Consequently, he was sure that leaving the TPP will not entail a withdrawal from the area.

Of course, for China, it is very helpful that the agreement does not enter into force because apart from commercial, it also implied a regional political agreement of the countries and the less presence of the United States in the area, the more benefits China.

Once we talked about Trump’s relations with Asia, we started talking about relations with Europe, as well as talking about the relationship with Spain.

As with Asia, Mr. Lejarreta stated that relations with Europe would follow the same bilateral system. Trump does not want to negotiate with the European Union, but with countries separately.

Perhaps, Trump is not interested in negotiating with the EU, but the secretary thinks that Trump knows the transatlantic relationship is fundamental. He do not think it will even lower the level of relations in the military, security, defence … it may be a major change in the way of negotiating bilateral agreements, but it is difficult because the EU made a compromise in a community agreement and it will not be easy to negotiate separately.

Focusing on Spain, Mr. Lejarreta remarked that we are bound to be the little one and have good relations with the big one. Spain have to get along with the American government and its president, whoever.

Obviously, for Spain it would have been much easier with Hillary Clinton as President. First, because she has come to Spain many times, and secondly because her vice president, Tim Kaine, who is a friend of Spain, precisely presides over the forum Spain- U.S.A. of which the foundation Consejo España-EE.UU. is part. Spain has had to start from scratch with the new republican administration.

Spain is a good partner for the States. In terms of security, the bases of Rota and Morón are essential for security in the Mediterranean and as a platform for deployment in Africa and the Middle East, therefore we have very important elements that make the United States interested to get along with Spain.

As with all other countries, Mr. Lejarreta summarised that Spain cannot accept everything because we have our principles and we are part of the EU. But he thinks the relations do not have to be bad, much less, and of course our government will strive to get along. Only time could show the future actions of Trump and its movements in the international order.

                                                                                                       Laura Cañibano Ponce de León

How to change the perception of African countries

This week I had the opportunity to visit Madam Mavis Esi Kusorgbor the Minister in charge of economical and politic affairs at the Ghana Embassy in Madrid. We touched on topics such as her background in international relations and economic, political or cultural aspect of her task in representing and promoting her country.

Her daily tasks consist in looking after Ghana’s political interest in Madrid, promoting economic relations between Ghana and Spain and as a deputy to the Ambassador in administrative issues of the Embassy. Madam Kusorgbor envisaged working in a similar position from an early stage of her education. Before starting university, she studied Governments as major which prepared her for her studies in political science and later international affairs.

After her degree, she managed to find a role in the Foreign Ministry in 1995 which marks the beginning of her employment with the Government of Ghana. The different roles she has taken in the past 20 years were all related to handling Ghana’s foreign affairs and relations either from inside the country or in different departments and countries of the world.

Her first posting outside of Ghana was with the Ghana permanent mission at the United Nations in New York. She served on the Third Committee of the General Assembly which is responsible for social and human right issues and treating questions related to the advancement of women, the protection of children and the promotion of fundamental freedoms .”Everybody is basically pursuing their own interest and not thinking about what is really happening globally.” she said and questioned some countries disregarding events on security issues and humanitarian consensus and sticking to their political stands. After being sent out to Egypt from 2008 to 2012 which represented a momentous time for the country , she then served in Dubai for a brief period before taking her current position at the Ghana Embassy in Spain last year.

During those years she learned about different cultures of the world and how they perceive Ghana. That plays an important aspect in understanding how to present the interest to the different audiences. It is important to take the different aspects of the international relations of Ghana with the countries in consideration. The different strategies focus on knowledge of culture, development, social cultural aspects and most importantly the history of the relations with Ghana. Egypt for example as bilateral partner has a strong relationship, what ensures a lot of support to initiatives. People to people relations are also very important as Ghana is not very know for example in Dubai, but has seen increased activity. In Spain or Europe in general it is more difficult as you must first find out what people think about Ghana and what might be attractive in terms of “business, investment or cultural relations”.

The Embassy tries to promote Ghana as politically stable country with many economic prospects. Western countries look for certain factors such as “good governance”, “committed leaders”, “efforts to improve the well-being of the people” and “democracy” in their potential partners. Ghana fulfills all those factors and the duty of its representatives is now to showcase that potential. In her current role, she tries to attract investments to Ghana from chambers of commerce and companies. Arguments like the low cost of labor and the logistic aspects allowing short distances of production speak for those investments. The readiness of investor due to security and financial concerns are obstacles that she has to face. For that to change the Embassy also tries to showcase the culture of Ghana to attract tourism and subsequently the awareness about the country.

“As small individual countries if we do not come together as a bloc we will not have a voice strong enough to be able to engage with other regional groups like the European Union or even a bigger country like the United States, because after all it is just one small Ghana or one small Gambia.” With this statement, she shows the importance of unity between African countries. Ghana can serve as a leader for West Africa in such negotiations. Most countries of Africa have gone through difficulties. It is important to understand the different dynamics and to help development. It is for that reason that the Economic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) exists. One important aspect in trade negotiations will be the possibility to sell processed goods rather than raw materials in order to be able to have more say in the prices negotiations. With a more unified stand these issues will be easier to solve.

In conclusion, it can be said that more countries have discovered or are discovering the economic potential in Ghana and what it has to offer culturally. With this development, the country can serve as a great role model for neighboring countries and as voice for international negotiations. To achieve that goal different parties and individuals have to come together and work on that common goal.

Rudiger Atchon

The art of the accusation

The cross accusations between North Korea and the US.

Ever since World War II, the United States and North Korea have been confronting and accusing each other. Presently, the situation has not improved, but it could be said that it has worsened significantly. The main actors of these accusations are Kim Jong-Un (North Korea) and Donald Trump (USA), who instead of trying to mediate in international politics, are once again a concern for the international community.
The usual accusations are not all of the same typology or thematic, but they have a clear objective, which in none other than to destabilize the image of the opponent, and at the same time they are adding even more “wood to the fire”. Earlier this week, a North Korean newspaper published a report accusing the US CIA of conspiring to attack North Korean’s leader in an attempt to murder him.

trump lol

Earlier this week, US newspapers published a report on China’s support for the US and the unpolite attention Kim Jong-Un allegedly had with the Chinese government, which is a bit ironic because North Korea is highly dependent on China and might even need its help… in case of a possible armed conflict. This is what is known as state marketing. Not everyone knows the existence of this department of government that the states have, whose purpose is none other than trying to make their people and even the rest of the world see what they want us to see through the media. There are clear, fully verified examples in which the US has used its state marketing services, like for example in the Vietnam war, the conflict with Fidel Castro (Cuba) and even more recently, the war in Afghanistan.

Recently Mr. Trump has made a series of very unfortunate statements, something very common since he began his electoral program last year (2016). These are statements where he shows his great ego and almost touching totalitarianism. In which he warns North Korea, that if they continue to ignore the international community, they will be punished with force, for example the US has already punished them with economic sanctions, but they haven’t stopped their nuclear activities and other military actions.

22 is too many

A large part of the world population is wondering: Why is President Donald Trump acting this way? Well, there is a study that explains the necessity of the US to enter a new war, not because of a mere economical, geographical or political issue, but because the American army cannot remain without activity in American territory, since this causes a great problem in society. The number of suicides among American military has increased exponentially recently, due to their lack of activity when they return from conflict. (20- 22 daily suicides according to Mission 22).      

To conclude, quoting Bertrand Russell: “Scientists strive to make the impossible possible. Politicians, for making impossible the possible.”

                                             

 

Cleaved parties in the European Union due to Ukraine conflict

Last Sunday Pro-Russian achieved their personal breakthrough: Eighty-nine percent of the population voted in favour of the self-rule for Eastern Ukraine by the referendum vote. This result as well as the way of voting reboils the Ukraine issue ones more inasmuch as the European Union is not acclaiming this vote and wants to declare more sanctions which cause cleaved parties between its members.

 

The so called third level of sanctions – wide-ranging economic sanctions – are intended to weaken Putin, as Europeans have ruled out the use of military means and use sanctions as their most powerful weapon. But in fact this can only be effective when all the members agree on them unanimously. Levels one and two were no problem because they were primarily symbolic acts – but the latest sanctions would have a strong effect on Russia and therefore also on the economies of the EU members.

Imagen

Picture:alliance / dpa / Anthony Picore

 

This leads to a splitting of the EU into different parties. Because in the last few months, countries such as Lithuania, Luxembourg and Sweden have publicly stated that they will support Ukraine with their military use of force. Raimonda Murmokaite, Lithuania’s United Nations envoy and Olivier Maes, her Luxembourg counterpart defended Ukraines’ right to use force if needed against pro-Russian separatists at an UN Security Council meeting on the 13th April in New York. Also Carl Blidt, Sweden’s foreign minister announced via Twitter: “If illegal armed groups took over police stations and local government offices in Sweden we would use all our instruments to restore order.”

 

On the other hand, the European Parliamentarian, Rebecca Harms, said that she agrees with the paths that the EU is following. She suggested more sanctions to Russia but she is totally against the use of military means from the EU for solving Ukraine’s crisis. Nevertheless the German foreign minister warned that the Ukraine is close to war as Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russian separatists a few days ago: “The bloody pictures have shown us that we are just a few steps away from a military confrontation”. As Germany and France are taking the middle position, they don’t want sanctions. But if Putin goes on destabilizing Ukraine, they will support measures. The French president Hollande has no negative attitude towards Russia and its president Putin. He wants to keep their relation of interest stabile.

 

Moreover especially the countries in Southern Europe are afraid of economic costs of a trade boycott. Spain tries to act neutral in this conflict. The Spanish foreign minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, as well as the Italian one, Federica Mogherini, gave importance to restart the conversations in Geneva in order to get national peace in Ukraine and to keep working with Russia to stop this conflict. Garcia-Margallo states that Spain is in favour of the international legality and therefore condemns the separation of Crimea. He explained that Spain fully supports their NATO and EU allies. Additionally Mogherini expressed her hope that the Ukrainian presidential elections on May 25, should allow Ukraine to reform their constitution.