GRANADA – For a brief period, Granada became the focal point of European politics as it hosted over forty heads of state at the summit. The leaders convened to discuss a variety of issues, from EU expansion plans to revamping migration policies.
Among the attendees, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stood out as particularly noteworthy. Meanwhile, Juanma Moreno, President of the Junta de Andalucía, and Marifrán Carazo, Mayor of Granada, were conspicuously absent. Their absence sparked irritation in the southern Spanish region, where local officials believe that had the summit been in Catalonia or the Basque Country, regional and municipal leaders would have been included. The Spanish government cited ‘protocol rigidity’ as the reason for their absence at the EU summit.
Granada. La Alhambra. Allí se ha celebrado un encuentro con los jefes de Estado y de Gobierno europeos que han querido asistir a la Cumbre de la Comunidad Política Europea.
Una cita a la que también han acudido los Reyes Felipe VI y Letizia pic.twitter.com/VXvuBePWpg
— EL ESPAÑOL (@elespanolcom) October 6, 2023
Cultural interlude: A visit to Alhambra and a gala dinner
The attendees visited the Alhambra before enjoying an Andalucian gala dinner at Parador de Granada. The dinner was prepared by renowned chef Paco Morales, who boasts two Michelin stars and ranks among the “top 50 best chefs in the world” according to The Best Chef Awards. King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain served as hosts, and an official photo was taken at the Palace of Charles V.
Unified stance on Russia
The summit aimed to showcase European unity against Russia. The leaders’ partners were also invited, similar to the dinner at the Prado Museum during the 2022 NATO Summit in Madrid. During their time in Granada, leaders had the chance to tour the Nazarí Palaces of the Alhambra, a World Heritage site since 1984.
Impact on the local economy
The city’s hotel occupancy surged to about 80% during the summit, with four- and five-star hotels almost fully booked, according to data shared with Europa Press by the Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Companies.
A strong security presence was in place, consisting of around 5,000 personnel, which included 3,500 national police officers and about 1,400 members of the Guardia Civil. Traffic and parking restrictions were enforced around the Palacio de Congresos and the Alhambra.
Protests and public sentiment
Approximately thirty organisations, unified under the “Granada Social Summit,” had planned protests against European policies. The local government initially banned the march citing safety concerns, but the Supreme Court of Andalucia later allowed it, provided it was held away from the city centre.
The Prime Minister of the UK, Rishi Sunak was also in attendance. Afterwards, he took to X (formerly Twitter) to advise on agreements he had made with various European leaders regarding the problem of border controls in the UK.
It's the British people who should decide who comes to the UK – not criminal gangs.
Our work so far has meant crossings are down by 20%.
But it requires international collaboration, which is why I'm in Granada meeting with European leaders.
Here's what's been agreed today 👇 pic.twitter.com/d4IICKc7ci
— Rishi Sunak (@RishiSunak) October 5, 2023
Social media moments
Spanish President Pedro Sánchez went viral on social media for taking a selfie with Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and his wife, Niina M. Kanniainen. The day was filled with selfie moments, particularly in the iconic Patio de los Arrayanes.
Quiet moments and cultural interactions
After a busy day, some leaders, including Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, sought peace in the Patio de los Arrayanes. The day concluded with a 20-minute flamenco performance by Marina Heredia, who later conversed with the Spanish king and queen. The highlight came when King Felipe VI made a slightly awkward toast, with Queen Letizia hesitantly joining him.