You are here

Ignacio Ibáñez Rubio: Spain grateful to Belarus for efforts to open embassy in Madrid

The world events are developing so rapidly and unexpectedly... Maybe the Ambassador of Catalonia will knock at the Minsk gates tomorrow. However, the new head of the Spanish diplomatic mission in Belarus excludes such a turn of events and thanks Belarus for the reserved attitude to the referendum, which is certainly an intra-Spanish dispute.

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Belarus Ignacio Ibáñez Rubio gave his first interview to our program in Moscow. I would like to note that 10 months ago we met with Senor Rubio in Madrid when he was the Secretary of State of the Spanish Foreign Ministry. Now in a new capacity, on his birthday, he answered the questions of our political reporter Yana Shipko.

You've recently returned from Minsk. What impression did Belarus leave this time?

Ignacio Ibáñez Rubio, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Belarus (concurrently):
I am very pleased with my visit to Minsk! For me the presentation of credentials to your President was an important moment. However, being Deputy Foreign Minister, I already conducted quite active work with Belarus - I took part in the first political consultations between Spain and Belarus in 2014. Today I came to Minsk already as an extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador - and for me it is a great honor!

They say that the design of the Palace of Independence uses Spanish tiles, among other things. Did you like it in the Palace?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
Quite an interesting fact! But even without knowing it, I really liked the Palace of Independence. Your President addressed the ceremony with the words to all the ambassadors, but he addressed me - the ambassador of the European country - among the first. That was an honor! I appreciated this sign of attention. The President's speech concerned the development of relations between our countries and the intention to further deepen them. Alexander Lukashenko noted that we first of all need to develop our trade and economic relations, and we have great potential in this matter, and also expressed hope for fruitful cooperation during the first meeting of the joint Spanish-Belarusian commission, which will be held in Minsk in the middle of October. Thus, he made it clear from the very start that he would have to work hard. Such speeches and actions of your President are very encouraging.

Do you think it is time to open a permanent representative office in Minsk? Is it enough work?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
Without a doubt. We are very grateful to Belarus for the efforts that it made to open the permanent embassy in Spain. In the near future, as far as I know, a Belarusian ambassador with a permanent residence in Madrid will be appointed. So, the first step has been made. And now Spain will reply. I tell my Belarusian friends that I am 100% willing to take advantage of the opportunities that I have as an Ambassador of Spain to Belarus. My immediate intentions are to deepen relations and make them more intense. I want to pay attention to the landmark visit of your Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei this year to Madrid, where political consultations between our ministers took place.

Last week Minsk was visited by an adviser on trade and economy of the embassy and a political adviser responsible for relations with Belarus. And on October 18, as I already mentioned, a meeting of the joint commission will be held in the Belarusian capital, during which we will discuss economic topics.

Representatives of Spanish companies have already heard about the potential of Belarus in various fields - trade, industrial cooperation, energy and, of course, in the agricultural sector.

Another good direction is the tourism industry, where Spain has vast experience. We could be useful to each other in this sector!

Do you think you can make Belarus more attractive for tourists?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
Without a doubt! Although Belarus is attractive by itself, it remains only to increase its importance in the tourism market. Belarusians have something that underlies tourism: your famous hospitality and the ability to receive guests! Belarus is a country with its own history, which attracts tourists too. And also your beautiful natural wealth.

You have been to diplomatic missions in different parts of the world: from Tanzania to Guatemala. Was Belarus exotic on this list? What are your first impressions of our country?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
As you correctly noted, my impressions are still only slight and young. I mainly led only political work in Belarus. However, I can observe the successful development of your country even in this field. Belarus opens up more other countries of the world! And, in particular, the countries of for the European Union. We in Spain appreciate this as a very positive sign.

Belarus this summer hosted another very important international forum - the OSCE PA. Now Belarus is looked upon as a bridge between the West and Eurasia. A proposal was made by our President to create a platform for Helsinki-2. How do you assess the possible role of Belarus in this?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
You had a very successful session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, at a high organizational level. A proof of this - positive feedback from the head of the Spanish delegation - Mr. Sanchez Amor, who noted that the Belarusians created all the necessary conditions for the successful conduct and work of the Parliamentary Assembly. President Lukashenko was listened to with great attention, his idea of ​​creating "Helsinki-2" was assessed positively. Thus, it will be possible to create conditions for mutual understanding between the countries on the European continent. Spain supports all initiatives of Belarus on peace.

This week attention of all world media is focused on Catalonia. Is it possible to assume that the Ambassador of Catalonia will once come to Minsk to hand their credentials?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
I am sure that a single Spain will remain a reality, and Belarus will have a relationship with it only. I would like to take this opportunity to thank for the statement of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, which clearly stated that these are the internal affairs of Spain, and it is important that the Constitution of the country be respected.

Despite the fact that our country is now experiencing difficult times, all this time we felt the support of our friends on the international arena, and Belarus is just a vivid example of such understanding. I would like to ask all Belarusians to believe in our country and to believe that they will be able to travel to Barcelona, ​​which they love very much, and which is part of their beloved Spain.

Do you have plans to visit something in Belarus? You love culture, often go to the theater. Don Quixote has been successfully performed at the Bolshoi Theater for years. Do you want to see it with your own eyes? What places would you like to discover?

Ignacio Ibanez Rubio:
Of course, I really want to come to Belarus not only for work. And I will definitely find time to discover Belarusian culture! Your Ambassador Pavel Latushko, who used to be the Minister of Culture, says that everything we can do in culture will be very warmly received with interest in both countries. An example of this is the stunning success of the exhibition of Orthodox icons in Toledo in Spain organized by your side and a number of cultural and music programs in Madrid. So, I am more than confident that any initiatives of the Belarusian embassy in Spain, and our embassy here, will be received with enthusiasm by the residents of our countries!

Ignacio Ibáñez Rubio: Spain grateful to Belarus for efforts to open embassy in Madrid