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Rajoy is not taking things seriously

The Spanish prime minister appears to be isolating himself from his allies and turning a blind eye to the jihadist threat

While François Hollande, Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel were making their moves on the playing board of the crisis triggered by terrorism, Mariano Rajoy was busy playing sports commentator for the Champions League soccer matches on the Cope radio station on Wednesday evening.

Little more needs to be said about the way the Popular Party’s candidate for re-election is failing to take things seriously; rather, the prime minister appears to be isolating himself from his international allies and turning a blind eye on the concerns caused by the jihadist threat.

His foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, went so far as to say that EL PAÍS will not define the Spanish government’s strategy, in reference to this newspaper’s recent revelation that Spain was considering bolstering its military contingent in Africa’s Sahel region.

It is a positive development that Rajoy wants to run his plans by the other parties first. But that’s only if there are any plans to begin with

Nothing could be further from our intention, but what people need to know is whether a government strategy exists at all. For the moment, Spain remains on the sidelines, while our country’s main partners and allies are engaging in numerous meetings with one another.

Germany’s announcement that it will send 650 troops to Mali to relieve the efforts of the French soldiers stationed there puts even more of a spotlight on the Rajoy administration’s ambiguous attitude. What is it waiting for, exactly?

According to statements made by the defense minister, the government is waiting for French President François Hollande to ask for something. But Spanish officials should take note of the fact that French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has openly said that his country is “open to any help that will relieve our operations abroad.”

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This position is quite logical in a country that has 20,000 troops deployed in foreign missions and 10,000 more reinforcing domestic security back home.

And what is truly unbelievable is that neither Rajoy nor Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez are going to be there today at the meeting of the anti-terrorist pact that will welcome new parties into its fold, including Ciudadanos.

Just when an opportunity emerges for Spanish politicians to show broad cross-party consensus, the leaders of the two forces that created the pact in the first place decide not to show up. Ciudadanos chief Albert Rivera is being more coherent, as he has chosen to attend even if Rajoy and Sánchez do not; so is Podemos, which, despite disagreeing with the pact itself, will send a representative to illustrate the point that it wishes to participate in the fight against terrorism.

To act like Don Tancredo – a figure who stood still as a statue – sends a bad sign to our citizens. We’re not talking about embarking on military adventures, but about complying with article 42.7 of the European Union Treaty, which was recently invoked by France and which states that “if a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power.”

There is no sense in repeating the mistakes of the past made by the government of José María Aznar (who unilaterally supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq), so it is a positive development that Rajoy wants to run his plans by the other parties first. But that’s only if there are any plans to begin with.

What is not acceptable is to delay responding to a public security problem because of the upcoming general elections. Neither is trying to get citizens to vote without knowing where the candidates stand on such a sensitive issue.

English version by Susana Urra.