New Spanish ministers must improve relations with Catalonia and Morocco

by Lorraine Williamson
new Spanish ministers - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:(Isabel_Rodr%C3%ADguez)_Firma_de_convenios_para_el_desarrollo_de_Lanzaderas_de_Empleo_en_Puertollano_y_Talavera_de_la_Reina_(49482574962)_(cropped).jpg

MADRID – Prime Minister Sánchez wants to make a number of important changes with the seven new Spanish ministers appointed to the cabinet. He insists the focus must be on the economic recovery and the government wants to be more open to the dialogue with Catalonia. 

El País calls the renewed composition of ministers the biggest change the prime minister has made since his appointment. The task awaiting these new ministers is not an easy one. They must take action, not just words to find a solution to all the delicate issues facing the Spanish government. Two of the first items to be tackled will be the relationship with Catalonia and the recent conflict with Morocco. 

The concepts of ‘dialogue’ and ‘consensus’ are central to the new policy to be followed. Therefore, this means the team of new Spanish ministers must find a suitable solution for all current problems. Including the new housing law and the redesign of the judiciary. Most urgent, however, is an improvement in the still tense relationship with the Catalonia region. 

No Catalan government spokesperson 

Isabel Rodríguez is the new government spokesperson and Minister of Territorial Politics. Sánchez wants to stop the Catalan issue being the main theme after every post meeting Council of Ministers press conference. That could be more likely with a Catalan in this role, as was the case with the former Miquel Iceta. 

The bilateral commission, is a government body in which members of the central government and the autonomous regions are represented. The prime minister first wants the commission to solve the relatively simple problems. Then they will deal with complex issues such as the political conflict with Catalonia exclusively at the central negotiating table. 

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The choice of Rodríguez aroused some suspicion among the separatists. She has close ties with President Emiliano García Page of Castile-La Macha. The President has been highly critical of the pardon granted by Sánchez and of the Catalan independence struggle in general. 

Central negotiations 

However, sources around the Prime Minister have said negotiations with the separatists will only be conducted from the government palace in Madrid. From now on they will be led by Félix Bolaños (the new Minister of the Presidency), Óscar López (Director of the Cabinet and Presidency). And, of course, the Prime Minister himself, who will always remain in talks with Pere Aragonés to remove the necessary blockages. 

Building a new relationship with Morocco 

José Manuel Albares, the new foreign minister, will be responsible for further negotiations with Morocco. Furthermore, Albares has stated he wants to resolve the current conflict with this country as quickly as possible. He also wants to ensure all possible diplomatic mechanisms are in place. Without taking another position on the Western Sahara issue, Albares will try to normalise the still tense relationship. As a first step, the new minister called Morocco “gran amigo” and is already planning his first visit before the start of the negotiations. 

Already tense relations with Morocco deteriorated this year after thousands of Moroccans illegally entered the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla. This was partly possible because the Moroccan authorities left the borders to Spain unguarded. 

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