There’s a first time for everything, as they say. This evening, President Macri will kill two birds with one stone, embarking on his first European state visit of the year, and his first ever to Spain.
Aptly boarding a flight on Spanish airline Iberia, the president will travel tonight to Madrid, where he will stay until Friday. His wife Juliana Awada, Foreign Minister Malcorra and around 200 Argentine businessmen and women are just some who will join Macri on his visit, with the latter cohort taking part in a Multi-sector Business and Investment Mission.
It’s a good thing Carnaval brings with it a long weekend, as Macri is looking at a pretty packed schedule…
Macri will arrive on Tuesday, but will begin his official agenda on Wednesday, when he attends a joint session in the Spanish Congress. He will then lay a floral arrangement in the Plaza de la Lealtad (Loyalty Plaza) before he makes his way to an official welcoming ceremony, hosted by King Felipe and Queen Letizia, in the “Palacio de la Zarzuela,” the Royal Palace of Madrid.
According to Infobae, it marks the first time since 1975 that the palace has been used for such an occasion, (with state visits normally being held in the Pardo Palace.)
Come Thursday, Macri will meet with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Both heads of state will sign a series of bilateral agreements — a sort of “Plan of Action,” detailing plans to advance initiatives in key areas such as infrastructure, transport and tourism, before holding a press conference (and another lunch).
Following another series of events, Macri will share another evening with the royals. The royal couple, together with the Macris, will then undertake the official opening of the 36th edition of the International Festival of Contemporary Art, in which Argentina is this year’s guest country.
Before returning to Argentina, Macri will be awarded the New Economy Prize by the Spanish Prime Minister in the Royal Theatre. His to-meet list also includes an eclectic mix of CEOs, Argentine sportsmen and women living in Spain, as well as Peruvian-born author Mario Vargas Llosa, who resides in the country.
So far so good, who can refuse a free lunch or two? But what about the real purpose of the visit? The short answer is to attract investment and deepen commercial ties between the two countries.
Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, Macri spoke of wanting to “rebuild” their relationship between Argentina and Spain, “after more than a decade of stagnation.” He was most likely referring to the frosty relationship the Kirchner government had with Spain, which came to a head after CFKs decision to nationalize Argentine energy company YPF by liquidating the shares owned by Spanish company Repsol. The Spanish were (unsurprisingly) not thrilled with this move.
On its end, Spain had previously been forced to postpone all state visits, after 600 days of political crisis. Now however, the two aim to develop a strategic alliance, hoping that their respective membership of Mercosur and the European Union will be advantageous in their quest to create business opportunities and strengthen industries in the midst of social and economic unrest.