Saturday, July 13, 2024

WORLD | 20-06-2024 15:23

Milei already making waves in Spain, even ahead of second visit

This Friday’s trip to Spain by President Javier Milei is already generating pushback from the government in Madrid.

This Friday’s trip to Spain by Argentina’s President Javier Milei – his return to the European nation after sparking a diplomatic crisis during a visit back in May – is already generating pushback from the government in Madrid.

One government official said this week that it is “logical” that Milei would not be received by King Felipe VI during his trip.

"I think it is logical, the king is the head of a state in which President Milei has disrespected the president of the Spanish government," Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles told the Telecinco news channel on Thursday about the fact that Felipe VI will not meet with Milei.

According to the El País newspaper, Milei’s office requested an audience with the monarch during his upcoming trip to Madrid – where he will receive the annual prize of the Juan de Mariana Institute, a neoliberal think tank – without receiving a reply, bearing in mind that foreign policy is guided by the Foreign Ministry.

The Royal House declined to comment.

Foreign Ministry sources pointed out that "Milei has shown a repeated attitude of seeking confrontation and offending our institutions and our democracy, something unprecedented in international relations and in diplomatic practices between nations."

For these sources, it is "surprising and anomalous that a foreign president does not request, in any of his first visits to Spain, an institutional meeting with his counterpart, as all the presidents of the world do.”

The sources said they hoped that this Friday, "Milei would be at the level of the Argentine people and respect the Spanish institutions," something that "he did not” do “on his previous visit" a month ago.

In May, while in Madrid to attend a convention of the far-right Vox party, Milei referred to the wife of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez as a "corrupt woman." The insult prompted Spain to withdraw its ambassador to Buenos Aires.

Milei was echoing criticism from the Spanish right aimed at Sánchez's wife, who is under investigation by the courts for alleged influence-peddling and corruption.

Argentina’s government has ruled out a response to the gesture of recalling the ambassador, saying that the crisis is not "between countries" but "between people.”

Decoration in Madrid

Milei's latest visit to Madrid has provoked controversy because his only other planned activity, apart from receiving the award, is a meeting with conservative leader Isabel Díaz Ayuso, the president of the Community of Madrid, who will also decorate him.

Ayuso, a rising figure on the right and the visible face of the hard-line wing of the Partido Popular, "displays a profound disloyalty to Spanish institutions," as she did not inform the Spanish government in advance of the award, said Foreign Ministry sources in Madrid.

"I don't think that Isabel Díaz Ayuso's award to Javier Milei comes from a sudden love for the people of Argentina. I think she's doing it out of spite," said Patxi López, the Socialist Party (PSOE) spokesman in Congress.

Ayuso defended her meeting with Milei on Thursday in advance, calling it “an honour to receive the legitimate president" of Argentina.”

Milei, who has spared nothing in his bid to insult Sánchez, called the Spanish prime minister  a "coward" on Tuesday in an interview with an Argentine news channel.

He accused Sánchez of sending out "all his ministers to insult [him]", and accused him of applying "the model of [Venezuela's President Nicolás] Maduro" and attacking freedom of expression in Spain.

The origin of the clash lies in comments made by Spain’s transport minister in early May, who suggested that Milei acted like he was on drugs.

Argentina’s head of state responded by stating that Sánchez's government was bringing "poverty and death" to Spain.

by Diego Urdaneta, AFP


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