Farewell to Spanish ambassador

More than 500 Portuguese and Spanish businessmen bade farewell to the outgoing Spanish Ambassador to Portugal, Dr. Alberto Navarro last week at a luncheon organised by the Portuguese-Spanish Chamber of Commerce (CCILE) in Lisbon.

The ambassador, who has been in Portugal since September 2008, has been appointed as the Spanish Ambassador to Rabat, Morocco, where there is a sizeable Spanish business and expatriate community.

A successor has yet to be named.

Relations between Spain and Morocco have been tense of late because of a standoff between Moroccan lorry drivers who carried out a blockade in the Spanish enclave of Melilla in August.

The cause of the dispute was allegations of violence by Spanish police against Moroccan citizens working and living in the city which was claimed as “territory occupied by Spain”.

The tension, which threatened to spill out in Ceuta, which has long held Portuguese interests and historical significance, was the main reason it was decided to transfer Navarro, a one-time Ambassador and Secretary of State for the EU and a close friend of Spanish Prime Minister, José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, to Rabat in an attempt to calm the situation.

Spain is also Portugal’s most important Direct Foreign Investment and trading partner, ahead of Angola, Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Brazil, representing up until the  end of 2009 some 27.2 per cent of all Portugal’s trade.