PRESS RELEASE 213
Ministry of Foreign Affairs closes 2021 with a successful withdrawal from Afghanistan and having exceeded its international vaccination solidarity commitment
  • Spain evacuated another 203 Afghan collaborators after the arrival of the last two planes on 11 and 12 October 

  • 40 million vaccines have been donated to other countries around the world in 2021. This figure will rise to 50 million by the end of the first quarter of 2022

  • Since he took office, Minister Albares has travelled more than 100,000 kilometres, equivalent to two and a half trips round the world, and has taken part in 76 bilateral meetings, including with his counterparts, European commissioners and secretaries-general of international organisations

30/12/2021
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation closes off a busy year marked, among other things, by the evacuation of Spain’s collaborators and their families from Afghanistan, along with the lingering effects of the pandemic, which our country has contributed to alleviate by its supportive donation of vaccines to those countries that most need them.

Two planes landed in Spain on 11 and 12 October with 244 Afghans on-board that had collaborated with our country. Since then, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation has also brought over more than 200 other Afghan collaborators and their families. This gradual process has been implemented following the conclusion of the main evacuation operations and with the aim of not leaving any of our collaborators behind in Afghanistan.

Specifically, 203 Afghans have arrived in Spain as a result of the arrangements made by our consular offices. The Islamabad (Pakistan) office arranged the highest number of operations, with a total of 173 people, followed by the Ankara (Turkey) office with 14, the Teheran (Iran) office with 11, the New Delhi (India) office with four, and the Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) office with one Afghan.

These operations have taken place following the first phase from Kabul, via Doha (which finalised on 27 August), in which Spain evacuated 2,206 people. Our country also became a reception hub for European Union collaborators, and a base for the evacuation of collaborators with the United States. This role has been widely acknowledged by the European institutions and in the visits by the Presidents of the European Commission and of the Council to Torrejon on 21 August, and personally by President Biden in a phone call to the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez. 

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, travelled to Pakistan on 10 September and to Qatar on 14 September, to address potential ways to evacuate Afghan collaborators with the Pakistani authorities, and subsequently, with the Qatari authorities. As a result of these visits, a new evacuation operation was made possible, which took place on 11 and 12 October, with two planes that reached Spain from Pakistan with 244 people on-board.

Solidarity in vaccination

Since the President of the Government made a commitment in April to make an initial donation of 7.5 million doses of vaccines when our country reached the target of vaccinating 50% of the Spanish population, we have easily exceeded this target. Spain is one of the countries with the highest vaccinations rates and one of the main donors in the world.

After having handed over more than 40 million vaccines in 2021, Spain will continue to donate vaccines until it reaches the figure of 50 million doses in the first quarter of 2022. This will allow it to reach the European target of donating 700 million vaccines by mid-2022, so that 70% of the population has the full dosage.

Our country is currently the sixth-ranked country in the world in the number of vaccines donated, the fifth-ranked in effective donations through the COVAX initiative (the third in the EU), the second-ranked country in the world in vaccines donated/GDP and the second leading donor to Latin America. According to data from the European Union – including donations and exports – the EU has sent 1.4 billion doses of vaccines to 150 countries, while China has exported 1.24 billion and the United States only 450 million, followed by India, with 92 million and Russia, with 82 million.

The General State Budget for 2022 will represent the recovery of a lost decade for Spanish Cooperation, reaching unprecedented levels since 2011 due to successive cuts. The contribution from the ministerial department amounts to 378 million euros, which is an increase of 135 million on 2021, in other words, a 55.2% increase. Accordingly, the AECID budget is the highest since 2011, standing at 491 million euros, or 28.2% more than in 2021.

Noteworthy on the international agenda undertaken by Minister José Manuel Albares and his team is the holding of the 6th Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) and the EU-Southern Neighbourhood meeting held in Barcelona in November, which saw record attendance from foreign affairs ministers and delegations at a meeting of this type. A meeting which, despite COVID restrictions, managed to address the main challenges facing the countries in the region through a multilateral meeting which also had the chance to hold bilateral meetings to address other questions of interest.

International agenda 

Since he took office, Minister Albares has travelled more than 100,000 kilometres, equivalent to two and a half trips round the world, has taken part in 14 multilateral meeting on behalf of Spain and a total of 76 bilateral meetings, including with his counterparts, European commissioners and secretaries-general of international organisations.

Relations with the United States are of particular importance, at which Spain has held fluid dialogue with the Biden Administration at all levels, with several phone calls and a meeting between Minister Albares and his counterpart – the Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken – at which the latter passed on his gratitude for the continued support Spain has provided the United States with at the Rota and Morón bases within the framework of the evacuation operations of Afghan citizens.

In addition to multilateral affairs, the situation in Afghanistan and in Latin America, Spain and the United States have agreed to work together to prepare for the NATO Summit that Spain will host in June 2022. This summit, which will adopt the Madrid Strategic Concept, will mark a milestone in the development of our alliance.

Ibero-America and the Caribbean have once again held a central position in Spanish foreign policy in 2021. With the recovery of the office of the State Secretary for Ibero-America and the Caribbean and for Spanish in the World, the aim has precisely been to target and further boost Spain’s Ibero-American dimension, closely tied to who we are and how we act around the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the new State secretariat, is paying close attention to enhancing strategic bi-regional relations between the European Union and Latin America and the Caribbean. In this regard, the plan is to strengthen the Ibero-American agenda during the Spanish Rotating Presidency of the EU in 2023. We have already included Ibero-American questions (Nicaragua and Venezuela) on the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Councils to be addressed jointly at a European level.

The path towards this Spanish Rotating Presidency of the EU in the second half of 2023 has also been paved with various meetings with European citizens within the framework of the Conference on the Future of Europe which, in just the second half of 2021, has included citizen debates in Santander, Dubrovnik, Cartagena, Seville, Toledo, Logroño and Barcelona.

Re-structuring and office move

In 2021, the ministerial department has reorganised its organic structure with the creation of the new State Secretariat for Ibero-America and Spanish in the World. The State Secretariat for the European Union has been reinforced with the creation of the Secretary-General for the European Union with a view to the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2023.

There are two directorates-general that now depend organically and functionally on the minister. These are the Directorate for Communication, Public Diplomacy and Networks, and the Directorate for Economic Diplomacy – two directorates with cross-cutting functions that draw upon contributions from all units, both from the headquarters and in the field.

In this re-structuring, the policy on the appointments of the department’s management team incorporates the principle of gender equality, with the appointment of an equal number of men and women, which responds to the social reality of our country. It is also noteworthy that the most recent promotion of diplomatic civil servants (currently on work experience) is the first promotion ever to contain an equal number of men and women, which will raise the number of female diplomats to 29%.

Furthermore, all the units have been grouped together at the new headquarters in Plaza del Marqués de Salamanca (Madrid), with a total surface area of 55,000 square metres and a maximum capacity of 1,355 people. This transfer has led to a significant saving in rent and, after more than 16 years, complies with the commitment to return to the historical headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation.




APPENDIX

MOST IMPORTANT COMMITMENTS MET

- To achieve greater cooperation with the countries of origin of immigrants. Spain has urged the EU to collaborate effectively with African countries to prevent illegal immigration. It has taken part in Talent Partnerships – an initiative as part of the New Pact on Migration and Asylum that Spain was a proponent of. Different questions on the bilateral agenda have been addressed with Ghana and Guinea, including the issue of migration.

- To set up a high-level panel on technology and the global order. A meeting was held with the association Mujeres Tech to give a voice to women in the sector in drawing up the National Technology and Global Order Strategy.

- To continue boosting relations with Ibero-America. He accompanied the President of the Government of his official visit to Argentina and Costa Rica, while also making official visits to Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil and Paraguay. Meetings were also held under the bilateral consultation mechanisms with El Salvador and Honduras. Spain also took part in the 27th Ibero-American Summit on 21 April in Andorra, where the Framework Agreement to Promote the Movement of Talent in the Ibero-American Space was signed and the Grants Portal of Spanish Cooperation was presented. The first meeting of the Ibero-American Network of Cultural Diplomacy was held in Toledo.

- To propose measures on equal treatment and against all forms of discrimination in the EU. Spain has ratified the Revised European Social Charter. It took part in the informal General Affairs Council of the EU held on 17 May in Coimbra (Portugal), which addressed two important issues for the future of the EU. 



MOST IMPORTANT NON-BINDING INITIATIVES IN THIS HALF-YEAR

The presence of women in positions of responsibility has increased. Of the 24 senior positions in this ministerial department, 11 are now held by women and 13 by men. 50% of State secretaries are now women. In addition, of the 18 directors-general appointed, nine are women, that is, 50%. A female Ambassador on Special Mission for Feminist Foreign Policy has recently been appointed.

The 28th Ibero-American Summit is being prepared, to be foreseeably held in November 2022 in the Dominican Republic. A new Ibero-American Secretary-General has been elected. 

25 million euros have been contributed this year to the joint fund for the Sustainable Development Goals

Work is being done on the first half-yearly update of the activities contained in the Annex to the Africa 2023 Focus. Progress is being made with Senegal on the third phase or stage of the “pilot project to coordinate parties and instruments to promote Spain’s business presence and investments in Senegal” provided for in the Africa 2023 Focus, which is the action plan under the 3rd Africa Plan.

Spain has continued to develop its national consultation framework on the Conference on the Future of Europe, drawn up and implemented in close coordination with the regional governments, with a host of events in the second half of 2021 involving intense citizen participation.  



ANNOUNCEMENT OF MOST IMPORTANT ACTIONS FOR UPCOMING HALF-YEAR

To adopt a humanitarian diplomacy strategy. A draft strategy has been drawn up to be submitted in the coming weeks to the International Committee of the Red Cross to make its contributions.

Relations with Ibero-America will continue to be boosted

Work will continue to be done on the digitalization of consular services

The reform of the Spanish Cooperation Act will be promoted for its approval by Parliament.



​-NON OFFICIAL TRANSLATION-



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