King Felipe VI during his speech at the opening of the 9th Spain-United States Forum in Málaga, in September 2014 PHOTO EFE
Politics and Diplomacy
Once the United States won its independence, for which the support of the Spanish Crown and the exploits of Bernardo de Gálvez were key, Spain and the United States initiated diplomatic relations in 1785.

Among the many agreements and treaties marking these long relations are the Treaty of Friendship, Limits and Navigation, of 1795; the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, which set the limits of Spanish sovereignty in North America, and by which the United States took over Florida; and the Treaty of Paris of 10 December 1898, which put an end to the Spanish-American War, and also effectively put an end to the sovereign presence of Spain in North America: in addition to ceding Puerto Rico, it also sealed the loss in 1821 of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, which included what are now the states of Texas, California, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

Contacts in the first half of the 20th century were not very significant at a political level. Only in the area of culture can we talk of an incipient exchange, promoted by Hispanists of the stature of Archer M. Huntington, the founder of the Hispanic Society in New York and of the Hispanic Section in the Library of Congress. In the economic sphere, following initial growth of US investment and bilateral trade in the 1920s, we would have to wait until the end of the Second World War for these exchanges to oust Britain from its traditional leading position in this respect and to steadily introduce the most advanced US products into Spain.

After a period of five years between 1946 and 1951 in which bilateral relations between the two countries were interrupted as a result of Spain's non-aggression policy during the Second World War, the signing of the Pact of Madrid in 1953 represented an important historic boost for the re-establishment of diplomatic, defence and economic relations between both countries. The Pact marked a milestone, not only in the economic and military sphere, but also in science and culture. Among its consequences was an agreement signed in 1955 on the Civil Uses of Atomic Energy, and the creation of the Foreign Leaders Programme and the International Education Exchange Programme (better known as the Fulbright Programme) in 1958, which would receive the Prince of Asturias Award in 2014.

The Spanish Constitution of 1978 and the return to democracy in Spain led to a strengthening of transatlantic relations and our bilateral relations with the United States. In 1976, the Secretary of State of the United States, Henry Kissinger, and the first of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Spanish Democracy, José María de Areilza, signed a Friendship and Cooperation Treaty between the United States and Spain in Washington, which would mark the start of more balanced relations, with shared security objectives based on mutual respect and common democratic values.

The entry of Spain into NATO in 1982 and the European Communities in 1985 meant a significant strengthening of bilateral relations, which culminated with the signing of the Agreement on Defence Cooperation in 1988. The Agreement was subsequently revised on three occasions, through the Protocols of Amendment, on 10 December 2002, 10 October 2012 and 17 June 2015. The new geostrategic scenario meant that as President of the Council of the European Union, in 1995, Spain promoted the launch of the New Transatlantic Agenda, with the aim of boosting relations with the United States.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, in December 2001, bilateral relations were further bolstered and adapted when the then Minister for Foreign Affairs Josep Piqué and the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright signed an historic Joint Declaration (the so-called Madrid Declaration) which meant a major step towards boosting our bilateral relations, not only at a political level, but also in the area of defence and security, economic and financial cooperation, science, industry, technology and culture.  The declaration was the outcome of years in which relations and trust between the two countries were at their highest in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

From 2004 onwards, the change of government in Spain and our withdrawal from Iraq led to a cooling of the bilateral relation, which would not be overcome again until some years later, after the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency of the United States in 2008. However, the two countries remained allies and those years would see some major agreements, such as that for Extradition and Cooperation in the area of Justice, which was signed on 17 December 2004, along with an exchange of visits between different authorities.

The Atlantic Axis has been considered the second master line of the external policy since 2012, which has been able to recover with the United States the trust levels previously lost in bilateral relations. In recent years, we have witnessed a subsequent improvement and intensification of our bilateral political relations with the United States, represented by the meeting of then Presidents Rajoy and Obama in Washington, in January 2014, the various visits of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and other Ministers to the United States culminating with the first official trip of the Their Majesties the King and Queen to the United States in September 2015, when they visited the cities of Washington, Miami and St. Augustine.  That historic visit was followed in October 2015 by then Secretary of State, John Kerry, and the Secretary of Defence, Ashton Carter to Spain, both for the strengthening of a bilateral relationship that was increasingly more intense in different areas.

Already in 2017, under the Presidency of the republican Donald J. Trump in the United States, our relationship has continued to strengthen and consolidate. We must highlight the official trip to Washington of then President Mariano Rajoy, who was invited by President Trump, in September 2017. The then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Mr. Alfonso Dastis, also travelled to Washington three times in 2017 to meet then Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, to accompany the President of the Government on his visit and also to attend a Ministerial Meeting of the International Coalition against Daesh. While there, he also presided over the 22nd Forum Spain-United States in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Defence is one of the engines of the relationship between both countries and key for the security of Europe and the transatlantic area. Cooperation in Defence has been further reinforced on a bilateral level (several joint exercises) and multilateral level (NATO and the Global Coalition against Daesh), with the 9th High-Level Bilateral Committee on Defence. Then Minister of Defense, María Dolores de Cospedal, also visited the United States twice in 2017; meeting both times with the Secretary of Defence, James Mattis. During 2017, the United States also reaffirmed its clear support for a strong and united Spain. Collaboration in police, anti-terrorism and security affairs against radical Islamic terrorism was strengthened, especially after the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in 2017, and trade exchanges and mutual investment continued to grow in both directions. 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) in Madrid (1 December 1988), which is the bedrock of our bilateral defence relationship with the United States.

Many other political and economic visits and meetings which have taken place in recent years also highlight the excellent moment which relations between both countries enjoy at the scientific-technological, cultural and economic levels.

 

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