Spain – Statement by Jean-Yves Le Drian following his meeting with his Spanish counterpart, José Manuel Albares Bueno (Paris, 4 October 2021)


Today I’m very pleased to be hosting José Manuel Albares Bueno, the Spanish Foreign Minister. I’m very happy to welcome him to Paris, which he knows well because he was ambassador here, and that’s another reason why together we can continue bilateral dialogue, which I regard as essential for our two countries and which we must pursue very resolutely and very enthusiastically.

We already had an initial conversation on the sidelines of the informal meeting of foreign ministers in Slovenia at the beginning of September, to discuss, among other things, strengthening cooperation between our two countries. For my part, in the follow-up to the Montauban summit in March I’d like us to continue our cooperation intensely, intensively and with a timetable, results, an ambition we must assert and in particular preparation, and I’m hoping a treaty between our two countries will be signed under the French presidency – we both want that – which will include all cooperation issues and especially cross-border strategy issues.

Our meeting provided an opportunity to discuss our analyses of the main international issues we’re focused on within the European Union today, starting with the transatlantic relationship and the European Union’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific region. Indeed, it’s important for Europeans to think together about the consequences of the crisis sparked by the AUKUS pact announcement, be it on how to rebuild trust between allies, how to strengthen our strategic thinking among the 27 or how to clearly take on board the alternative to the Chinese model already sketched out by our European strategy in the Indo-Pacific. I’ve already had the chance to talk to my German and Polish colleagues, together with High Representative Josep Borrell – and tomorrow [I’ll talk] to my Italian colleague as well – about the issue, on which our positions are also extremely close.

We both also talked about the situation in the Sahel and particularly the strong concerns of all Europeans, given the continued deterioration in Mali’s political, social and security situation, as the EU’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, very clearly expressed at the weekend in a communiqué we completely share.

Finally, our discussions also focused on the situation in the Southern Neighbourhood and the preparation of the French presidency of the Council of the European Union in the first half of 2022. It was a useful discussion, very friendly for a start, but at the same time very resolute, because we both think that the strong relationship between Spain and France is not just an asset to our two countries, a necessity, but also a source of strength and affirmation of the European dynamic we’d like to create and on which we see totally eye to eye.