Moment in which Milei offends Sánchez’s wife and is applauded by the European far right in Madrid. Image reproduction of Vox broadcast

In one of the fiercest diplomatic confrontations in recent years between Argentina and Spain, Argentine President Javier Milei is faced with the need to take decisive action following his controversial statements about the wife of Spanish President Pedro Sánchez, who he accused of being “ corrupt”. The withdrawal of the Spanish ambassador to Argentina with no expected return created a diplomatic asymmetry that the Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, Diana Mondino, is trying to rebalance.

“We trust that we can redirect relations between our governments to align them with those required by our societies,” said Mondino this Monday, after the issue dominated the headlines of all Argentine and Spanish journalists.

The diplomatic crisis was triggered by Milei’s statements during a convention of the far-right Spanish party Vox, where he mentioned the “corruption” of Sánchez’s wife, Begoña Gómez. In response, the Spanish president referred to Milei as part of an “extreme right-wing international” that posed a risk to society.

Pedro Sánchez, at an economic forum this Monday, reiterated his position: “What we experienced yesterday in Madrid speaks of the risk that the international extreme right represents for societies like ours, which support our pillars of economic progress, justice social and coexistence”.

Spanish measures and Argentine response

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares announced on Sunday the withdrawal of the Spanish ambassador, María Jesús Alonso Jiménez, and summoned the Argentine ambassador to Madrid for consultations. Albares clarified that, exceptionally, he himself would receive the Argentine ambassador, Roberto Bosch, to demand a public apology from Milei.

During the half-hour meeting at the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Albares reiterated the seriousness of Milei’s statements and insisted on an apology. Ambassador Bosch took formal note of the Spanish demand, but highlighted that Milei was also the target of insults from ministers in the Sánchez government, referring to comments such as those from the Spanish Minister of Labor, Oscar Puente, who insinuated that Milei consumed “substances ”. Others called him a denialist and a spreader of hate.

Despite the pressure, sources close to Milei confirmed that he will not apologize. “If Sánchez wants us to ask for forgiveness, let him sit and wait,” they said. Milei’s stance is that it should be Sánchez who should apologize, considering the insults he received from members of the Spanish government.

Diana Mondino reinforced the Argentine government’s position by recalling the insults directed at Milei by Spanish ministers. The Argentine government’s current strategy is to avoid exacerbating the situation until after the European elections and Milei’s trip to Europe.

Consequences and future of relationships

The current crisis, although serious, will not result in the Argentine ambassador in Madrid being called for consultations. “They repeated to the ambassador what they said publicly yesterday. He took note and sent it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there was nothing more”, highlighted diplomatic sources.

The withdrawal of the Spanish ambassador will be the most extreme measure to date, and there are expectations that she will eventually return to Buenos Aires. However, if tensions do not ease, there is a risk that the diplomatic crisis will escalate to the European Union, where Spain could seek support against Argentina.

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Policy of the European Union and former Spanish chancellor, highlighted in a statement that attacks against family members of political leaders are unacceptable. His position is seen as a clear sign that the European Union could align itself with Spain if the crisis persists.

Business reaction

Spanish multinationals who on Saturday sent representatives to meet with Argentine President Javier Milei in Madrid strongly condemned the statements he made the following day during the summit of the far-right party VOX. The companies Telefónica, Abertis, Iberia, Naturgy, in addition to the banks Santander and BBVA, rejected Milei’s attack against the president of the Spanish government.

“We deeply reject statements that are out of tone, not a diplomatic message, which is what should be between two friendly countries, against the president of the government and against the president’s wife. It is not the place or the time, it is not what is asked of two brotherly countries”, said the president of the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), Antonio Garamendi. For Garamendi, “it makes absolutely no sense to attack” Sánchez and do so in Madrid.

There followed a series of press releases from large companies seeking to distance themselves from Milei, after the “technical and economic” meeting. Milei’s statements caused great discomfort in the Spanish business world. Garamendi was chosen to lead the response, remembering that Spanish companies have significant investments in Argentina, totaling 18 billion euros, making them the main European investor and the second in the world.


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