Spain becomes Angola’s privileged partner in EU, alongside Portugal

20 August 2007

Madrid, Spain, 20 Aug – Spain is to take on the status of privileged partner of Angola within the European Union (EU), alongside Portugal, taking advantage of the increasing distance in the relationship between Luanda and France.

According to the Africa Monitor newsletter, Spain and Angola’s closer ties are due to a policy set out by the Angolan authorities, who believe in the capacity and knowledge held by Spanish companies to support the current phase of national reconstruction.

As well as this, in the diplomatic arena, Luanda considers that Portugal and Spain, together, can fill the vacuum left by France and “partners of confidence” in the EU.

Relations with France, a longstanding economic and diplomatic partner of Angola’s, have seen moments of tension over the last few years, due to cases in the French courts and, more recently, to the ban on Angolan airline TAAG flying to Europe.

The ban, which in Angola was widely covered by the press and lead to widespread criticism of the EU and public calls for retaliation, which did not come to fruition, was imposed due to non-fulfillment of community safety standards, and these were identified by the French airport authorities.

Alongside all this tension, Luanda has shown many signs of wanting to boost ties with Madrid.

Including, according to Africa Monitor, a recent invitation from Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, to Spanish prime minister, José Luis Zapatero, to visit Angola.

The invitation has been accepted, but has yet to be scheduled; the Spanish crown also repaid Angola for its courtesy when Princess Helena visited Angola recently.

In Madrid, where the Angolan president often travels for business and pleasure, a representational office of the Eduardo dos Santos Foundation has also been set up.

In the economic arena, a personal emissary of the Angolan president, Albina Assis, recently visited Madrid to convince the chairman of Repsol, Antonio Brufau, to expand the company’s interests in Angola, which are considred to be tiny for the size of the Spanish oil company..

In the energy sector, there is also a partnership between Gas Natural and Sonagas, a subsidiary of Angolan state oil company Sonangol, to explore natural gas reserves in Angola.

Construction company Dragados is currently rebuilding a former network of regional hospitals and there are guidelines set out for easing the way of other Spanish companies into the Angolan market.

Spain’s relations with Portuguese-speaking Africa are particularly focused on Cape Verde and Mozambique, and have more recently been widened to Guinea Bissau. (macauhub)