The Spanish government has updated its guidelines for international relations. A draft of the 2021-2024 Foreign Action Strategy, which the Cabinet is planning to send to parliament on Tuesday, discusses the “opportunity” to improve relations with the United States now that Joe Biden is the new US president. It also emphasizes the need for “a feminist foreign policy” and “humanitarian diplomacy.”
This document will replace the previous foreign policy strategy drafted in 2015. Although it only represents the government’s opinion, other sources were consulted – including regional, provincial and local authorities, and national agencies such as the Council of State, the government’s top advisory body.
The 100-page text draws a somber picture of a fractured global scenario where the concept of multilateralism is in crisis. “We live in an increasingly volatile and fragmented world that tends to generate two opposing trends: an outward force of disunity marked by the rise of populisms and exclusionary nationalisms, and an inward force with inclusive answers to global challenges,” reads the document.
In this context, Spain hopes to gain added relevance in the international arena with a policy based on “reformed and reinforced multilateralism.” The strategy, drafted in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, holds that the health crisis has accelerated processes that were already underway, but that it is still too soon to know whether we are immersed in “an era of change or in a change of era.”
The following are some of the main points:
United States. The Biden administration “opens up a more optimistic scenario” and “an opportunity that has to be taken.” Spain wants “a broader agenda for bilateral relations in the economic and trade spheres,” and will seek to get “unfair unilateral trade measures lifted,” alluding to tariffs on olive oil and wine. The existing cooperation on defense issues should be maintained, and the Cervantes Institute will open a new branch in Los Angeles, adding to the ones in New York, Chicago and New Mexico.
Europe. Spain will encourage “a more federal European Union” with greater strategic autonomy, competence over more policy areas, and more matters that may be approved through qualified majorities rather than unanimous votes. Spain will play an active role in the Conference on the Future of Europe, which will address necessary reforms for the EU, and encourage the integration process when it holds the six-month rotating EU presidency in the second half of 2023. The document calls for the consolidation of permanent tools of joint debt issue and for Europe to create its own resources, as well as for a harmonized tax system that ends competition within the EU. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU is described as “a great opportunity for Spain to take on greater leadership towards a more global Europe.”
Feminism. Spain will approve a Feminist Foreign Policy Strategy to incorporate gender issues “in all areas of foreign action” and it will “lead by example” by encouraging a greater presence of women in Spain’s external activities. Women currently represent 28% of diplomats and 20% of mission heads. Spain will also lead initiatives to promote diversity, “particularly LGTBI rights and the rights of all communities that are underprivileged or discriminated against.”
Latin America. Spain will encourage relations between the EU and Latin America and support the completion of an agreement with the Mercosur trade bloc. The king and queen will visit Chile to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first documented circumnavigation of the globe. Several Central American countries, as well as Peru and Mexico, are also celebrating the bicentennial of their independence. The latter country is also observing the controversial 500th anniversary of Hernán Cortés’ conquest, and Spain will work towards “a constructive dialogue about the celebration of historical milestones.” In Venezuela, “the priority will be restoring the democratic framework and providing support for overcoming the political and humanitarian crisis.” As for Cuba, the country is “updating its political and economic model” and Spain must stimulate this process “through critical yet constructive support.”
Immigration. Spain supports a European System of Immigration and Asylum guided by the principles of solidarity and equally shared responsibility. It wants to see “integral management of borders,” a zero-tolerance policy against smuggling rings, and the creation of “safe, regular and orderly migration channels.”
Health. Spain will support the European Commission’s efforts to create the foundations for “a European health union,” as well as the reform and reinforcement of multilateral global institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO).
United Nations. Spain will apply to sit on the UN Human Rights Council for the 2025-2027 period. The technological platform for the UN system in Quart de Poblet (Valencia) will be consolidated and expanded.
China. Spain will seek “more balanced relations” with China, especially on economic issues, avoiding “dynamics of confrontation.” It will encourage a strategic relationship through the EU, without ignoring “clear elements of rivalry in terms of values and interests” especially on human rights issues and unfair competition.
Development aid. The document maintains a commitment to earmark 0.5% of Spain’s gross domestic product (GDP) to development aid. A new law on international cooperation for sustainable development will be passed, and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency will undergo reform.
Climate. Spain wants to lead agreements on climate change with a “climate diplomacy.” It will encourage an international coalition on green hydrogen (hydrogen production from water) and will commit to the protection of biodiversity.
Western Sahara. Spain’s priority with regard to its former colony is to “contribute to the UN’s efforts to reach a political solution to the conflicts in the region in accordance with international parameters.”
Gibraltar. Gibraltar is only mentioned in reference to the recent agreement of December 31 laying out the groundwork to incorporate the British Overseas Territory into the Schengen space. Spain will “encourage the negotiation process for an agreement between the EU and the UK with regard to Gibraltar.”
Burkina Faso military says it has seized power
The military in Burkina Faso says it has seized power and overthrown President Roch Kaboré.
The announcement was made on state television by an army officer, who cited the deteriorating security situation for the military takeover.
Mr Kaboré had faced growing discontent over his failure to stem an Islamist insurgency.
His whereabouts are unclear, but the officer said that all those detained were in a secure location.
The coup comes a day after troops seized barracks, and gunshots were heard in the capital, Ouagadougou.
Earlier, the ruling People’s Movement for Progress (PMP) party said that both Mr Kaboré and a government minister had survived an assassination attempt.
On Sunday, mutinying troops demanded the sacking of military chiefs and more resources to fight militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group and al-Qaeda.
The army statement said Mr Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”.
The statement was issued in the name of a group not heard of previously, the Patriotic Movement for Safeguard and Restoration or MPSR, its French acronym.
Although read out by another officer, the statement was signed by Lt-Col Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who is believed to be the coup leader and a senior commander with years of experience fighting the Islamist militants.
The statement said that parliament and the government had been dissolved, and the constitution suspended, but promised a “return to constitutional order” within a “reasonable time”.
The military also announced the closure of Burkina Faso’s borders.
UN chief António Guterres condemned the coup and called on the military to “ensure the protection and the physical integrity” of Mr Kaboré.
The African Union and regional bloc, Ecowas, have also condemned the forceful takeover of power, with Ecowas saying it holds the soldiers responsible for the deposed president’s well-being.
Earlier, the news of his detention was received with cheers and celebrations in Ouagadougou, reports the BBC’s senior Africa correspondent Anne Soy.
Earlier video footage from the capital appeared to show armoured vehicles – reportedly used by the presidency – peppered with bullet holes and abandoned in the street.
Mobile internet services have been disrupted, though fixed-line internet and domestic wi-fi are working.
Mr Kaboré has not been seen in public since the crisis began, but two posts appeared on his Twitter account before the officer announced he had been toppled.
The later one called on those who had taken up arms to lay them down “in the higher interest of the nation”. Earlier, Mr Kaboré congratulated the national football team on their win in an Africa Cup of Nations match.
It is unclear who posted the tweets.
Some security sources say the president and other government ministers are being held at the Sangoulé Lamizana barracks in the capital.
On Sunday, hundreds of people came out in support of the soldiers and some of them set fire to the ruling party’s headquarters.
The coup comes a week after 11 soldiers were arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow Mr Kaboré.
But discontent has been growing in Burkina Faso over the government’s failure to defeat an Islamist insurgency in the country since 2015.
That escalated in November, when 53 people, mainly members of the security forces, were killed by suspected jihadists. And on Saturday, a banned rally to protest against the government’s perceived failure led to dozens of arrests.
Mutinying soldiers made several demands, including: the removal of the army’s chief of staff and the head of the intelligence service; more troops to be deployed to the front line; and better conditions for the wounded and soldiers’ families.
Similar troubles in neighbouring Mali led to a military coup in May 2021 – one that was broadly welcomed by the public.
Burkina Faso is now the third West African country to witness a military takeover in recent years. Guinea and Mali have had sanctions imposed on them by Ecowas to press them to return to constitutional order.
India Covid: Booster shots start for priority groups as cases surge
India has begun giving booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to priority groups amid a surge in infections.
Health and frontline workers and people above 60 years old with comorbidities are currently eligible to take the jab.
The drive began as India battles a spike in Covid cases fuelled by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Early studies from other countries have suggested that a booster vaccine may provide more protection against Omicron.
The highly transmissive Omicron variant was first discovered in South Africa in November.
Since then, several countries have expanded their booster programmes or shortened the gap between jabs to shore up protection against the variant.
In India, the booster shot – dubbed a “precaution dose” by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – will be the same vaccine that was given to a person for their first and second doses.
India has been mainly administering two locally-manufactured vaccines, Covishield and Covaxin, since its vaccination drive began in January 2021.
On Sunday, India reported more than 179,000 new infections for the past 24 hours, driven by a steep rise in cases in big cities such as the national capital Delhi and financial centre Mumbai.
On the same day, Mr Modi chaired a review meeting with top officials, and asked for “technical support” to be provided to states reporting more cases.
The government had begun administering vaccines to 15-18-year-olds last week – it has said that 31% of Indians in this age group have been given the first dose so far.
More than 91% adults have been partially vaccinated so far, while 66% have received both doses.
But experts say that still leaves millions of unvaccinated people – many with underlying health problems that could increase the severity of the infection – at risk.
The spread of Omicron has also increased worries – India has confirmed a total of 4,003 cases of Omicron, with Maharashtra state reporting the highest (1,126), followed by Rajasthan (529) and Delhi (513).
The country has so far recorded more than 35 million Covid cases and about 483,000 deaths from the virus.
Last year, a devastating second wave overwhelmed the country’s health system, leading to a shortage in oxygen, hospital beds and critical drugs.
Emily in Paris Fans Think Kim Cattrall Will Make an Appearance in Season 3
instyle– Fans are speculating a major pop-culture crossover in season 3 of Emily in Paris. After Kim Cattrall infamously turned down the chance to revive her Sex and the City character, Samantha Jones, for the reboot, fans couldn’t help but wonder if Jones could make an appearance in the next season of the cult-favorite Netflix show.
If you’re watching And Just Like That … (and even if you’re not), you know that Cattrall’s character is supposedly off working her public relationships magic in London, England, just a quick trip from Emily (Lily Collins) and her booming marketing firm, Savoir.
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Fans noticed major parallels between the characters, from their location to their sex positivity to their career in communications. Plus, both series were created by big-time Hollywood producer Darren Star — with SATC costume designer Patricia Field now responsible for Emily’s kitschy, Parisian looks — making a collab that much more believable.
One Twitter user wrote, “Current theory: Samantha has supposedly moved overseas, hence her lack of presence in the new SATC TV series. Then she shows up by total surprise in a crossover episode of EMILY IN PARIS. I would watch Samantha try to tolerate Emily, 100 percent.”
Collins fueled the flames by teasing a possible season 3. The actress posted photographs from her Vogue Hong Kong cover featuring a jet-black shag haircut and dark makeup writing, “Season 3 pivot?? Who’s with me? …” Collins used the same caption when reposting a fan’s Tweet with the magazine images that read, “Emily in Berlin.”
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