Francisco Javier Solana Madariaga (born July 14 1942 in Madrid, Spain) is the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) and the Secretary-General of both the Council of the European Union (EU) and the Western European Union (WEU). He was a physicist who became a political minister for 13 years before serving as NATO Secretary-General 1995–99. Dr. Solana was designated to become EU Minister for Foreign Affairs in 2006, but is likely to continue in his present role while the future of the EU is decided.
Background and career as physicist
Solana comes from a well-known Spanish family and is the grandson of Spanish League of Nations disarmament chief, diplomat, writer and European integrationist Salvador de Madariaga and Scottish scholar and economic historian Constance Archibald de Madariaga. His father was a chemistry professor, and his mother the writer Nieves Mathews. His older brother Luis was imprisoned for his political activities opposing the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.
He studied in the El Pilar College, an exclusive Catholic secondary school, before going to Complutense University (UCM). There as a student in 1963 he was sanctioned by the authorities for having organised an opposition forum at the so-called called Week of University Renovation. In 1964 he clandestinely joined the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (PSOE), which had been illegal under Franco since the end of the Spanish Civil War in 1939. In the same year he graduated and then spent a year furthering his studies at Spain's Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) and in the United Kingdom. In 1965 he went to the United States of America, where he spent six years studying at various universities on a Fulbright Scholarship. He taught physics for a time at the University of Chicago and at La Jolla, California, and joined in the protests against the Vietnam War. He received his doctorate in physics with a dissertation on superfluidity called Elementary Excitations in Helium 2, in 1968 from the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia, where he taught and researched until 1971, extending his planned stay in the US by a year in order to continue his investigations as well as being President of the Association of foreign students.
Returning to Spain he became a lecturer in solid-state physics at the Autonomous University of Madrid UAM, and then in 1975 he became a Professor at Complutense University. During these years he published more than 30 articles. For a time he worked as assistant to Nicolás Cabrera, whom he had met when Cabrera was Professor at the University of Virginia. The last PhD dissertations that he directed were in the early 1990s.
On returning to Spain in 1971 Solana joined the Democratic Co-ordination of Madrid as the PSOE representative.
In 1976, during PSOE's first national congress inside Spain since the civil war, he was elected Secretary of the party's Federal Executive Commission, and also Secretary for Information and Press, remaining in the post for five years. He was a close personal friend of the party's leader Felipe González, and is considered one of the PSOE leaders responsible for the transformation of the party in the post-Franco era. In 1976 he represented the PSOE at a Socialist international congress held in Suresnes, France, and again when it was held in Spain in 1977. On May 20 1977 he accompanied González in visiting King Juan Carlos at the Zarzuela Palace.
He became a representative of a teacher's union in the Complutense University, and in this role won a parliamentary seat for PSOE on June 15, 1977. On February 23 1981 he was in the parliament when was it was taken over for 18 hours in an attempted coup by armed gunmen led by Antonio Tejero.
On October 28 1982 PSOE won an historic victory with 202 out of 350 seats in the lower house. On December 3, along with the other members of González's first cabinet, Solana was sworn in as Minister for Culture, where he remained until moving to the Ministry of Education in 1988. On 5 July 1985 he was also made the Official Spokesman for the Government for three years.
He was made Minister for Foreign Affairs on July 22 1992, the day before the opening of the II Ibero-American conference of heads of state in Madrid, replacing the terminally ill Francisco Fernández Ordóñez. On November 27–28 1995, while Spain held the Presidency of the Council of the EU, Solana convened and chaired the Barcelona Conference. A treaty was achieved between the twenty-seven nations in attendance with Solana gaining credit for what he called "a process to foster cultural and economic unity in the Mediterranean region".
It was during these thirteen years as a cabinet minister that Solana's reputation as a discreet and diplomatic politician grew. By going to the foreign Ministry in the later years of González administration he avoided the political scandals of corruption, and of the dirty war allegedly being fought against ETA, that characterised its last years. towards the end of 1995 Solana, the only surviving member of González original cabinet, was talked about in the press as a possible candidate to replace him and lead the PSOE in the following March elections. Instead, he made the leap to international politics.
During and after his spell as NATO secretary general (see below) Solana continues to play an active role in PSOE and Spanish politics. In June 1997, at the XXXIV PSOE Congress, Solana left their Executive Commission and joined their Federal Committee, being re-elected in second place three years later. By supporting Colin Powell's February 5 2003 speech to the UN Security council which claimed that Iraq had WMD's Solana contradicted the position of his party leader José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who opposed the PP government of José María Aznar's support for the invasion of Iraq. Solana is seen, along with González, as representing the older wing of the party. On February 15 2005 he criticised the Plan Ibarretxe for its position on Basque Country independence, saying that its call for separate Basque representation within the EU had no place within the proposed EU constitution.
On December 5, 1995, Solana became the new Secretary-General of NATO, replacing Willy Claes who had been forced to resign in a corruption scandal. His appointment created controversy as he had been an opponent of NATO in his past. He had written a pamphlet called 50 Reasons to say no to NATO, and had been on a US subversives list. On May 30, 1982 Spain joined NATO. When PSOE came to power later that year the party and Solana changed their previous anti-NATO attitude into a atlanticist, pro-NATO, pro-USA stance. On March 12, 1986 Spain held a referendum on whether to remain in NATO, with the government and Solana successfully campaigning in favour. When criticised about his anti NATO past Solana argued that he was happy to be its representative as it had become disassociated from its cold war origins.
Solana immediately had to take command of the Balkans NATO mission Operation Joint Endeavour that consisted of a multinational peacekeeping Implementation Force (IFOR) of 60,000 soldiers which took over from a United Nations mission on December 20. This came about through the Dayton agreement, after NATO had bombed selected targets in Bosnia and Herzegovina the previous August and September. He did this by deploying the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC). In December 1996 the ARRC was again activated, with IFOR being replaced by a 32,000 strong Stabilisation Force (SFOR) under first Joint Guard and then (in June 1998) under Joint Forge.
Under Solana's guidance, and in response to a new post cold war era, NATO reorganised its political and military structure and changed its basic strategies. He gained the reputation of being a very successful, diplomatic Secretary General who was capable of negotiating between the differing needs both of the members of NATO and those with whom they were negotiating. In December 1995 France returned to the military structure of NATO, while in November 1996 Spain joined it. On May 27, 1997, after 5 months of long and complex negotiations with Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, an agreement was reached resulting in the Paris Foundation Act. This was considered a considerable diplomatic achivement as it formally ended hostilities between Russia and the NATO axis. On the same day he set up the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to improve relations between European NATO and non-NATO coutries. In July in Madrid the former Eastern bloc nations of Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland were invited to begin talks to enter NATO, which they did on March 12, 1999.
Keeping the peace in the former Yugoslavia continued to be both difficult and controversial. IFOR and SFOR had received a lot of criticism for their inability to capture the Serbian and Bosnian leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. In late 1998 the conflict in the Serbian province of Kosovo between the Serbian authorities and the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) deteriorated, culminating in the Racak incident, a massacre of 45 Albanians on January 15, 1999. NATO decided that the conflict could only be settled by introducing a proper military peacekeeping force under their auspices, to forcibly restrain the two sides. On January 30, 1999 NATO announced that it was prepared to launch air strikes against Yugoslav targets, which was seen as a threat to both sides in the conflict. On February 6 Solana met both sides for negotiations at the Château de Rambouillet, but they were unsuccessful. On March 24, Solana launched air attacks on military and civilian targets in both Serbia and Kosovo province. These attacks were made without the authorisation of the United Nations (UN) Security Council because of the opposition of Russia. Solana justified the attacks on humanitarian grounds, and on the responsibility of NATO to keep peace in the European region. He said he wanted to avoid the ethnic cleansing seen in Bosnia. Solana and NATO were criticised for the civilian casualties their bombings caused. On April 23 and 24, the North Atlantic Council met in Washington D.C. where the Heads of State of the member nations agreed to the New Strategic Concept, which changed and amplified the basic defensive nature of the organisation. This allowed for humanitarian intervention in a greater range of crisis situations than before, also allowing NATO to prevent and control the development of crises. NATO was given greater military control. On June 10, Serbia withdrew from Kosovo, and Solana stopped the attacks, which ended the Kosovo War. The same day UN Security Council Resolution 1244 authorised NATO to active the ARRc with the Kosovo Force (KFOR) launching Joint Guardian and occupy the province on June 12. Solana left NATO on 6 October, two months ahead of schedule, and was replaced by George Robertson.
EU foreign policy chief
On June 3–4 1999 Solana was appointed by the Cologne European Council as foreign policy chief of the newly-created CFSP, which had been established as the second of the three pillars of the EU in the Maastricht Treaty. It has a budget of €40 million, most of which goes to Balkan operations. He also became Secretary-General of the Council of the EU, presiding over their Political and Security Committee (PSC) and giving a continuity between the rotating presidents.
He helps both construct and actualise the decisions of the Council. He is also empowered to negotiate on the EU's behalf with other countries, always with the permission of the current president. These posts began on October 18.
A major element of the CFSP is the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) and initiated by the Amsterdam Treaty. At the Cologne and Helsinki (December, 1999) European Council meetings it was agreed to set up a 60,000 strong European Rapid Reaction Force in order to fulfil the Petersberg tasks. On November 20 he also became Secretary-General of the WEU, a partially dormant European defence and security organisation. He thus oversees the ongoing transfer of functions from the WEU to the EU, with this latter appointment being a part of the partial merger of the WEU into the CFSP, though some have claimed that the WEU is now more active under Solana's leadership. Both the European Union Institute for Security Studies (EUISS) and the European Union Satellite Centre (EUSC) are organisations that were under the WEU but are now under the CFSP.
The Clinton administration claimed in May 2000 that Solana was the fulfilment of Henry Kissinger's desire to have a phone number to talk to Europe. In December 2003 Solana released the European Security Strategy which sets out the main priorities and identifying the main threats to the security of the EU, including terrorism. On March 25 2004 Solana appointed Gijs de Vries as the anti-terrorist co-ordinator for the CFSP, and outlined his duties as being to streamline, organise and co-ordinate the EU and its members fight against terrorism.
Solana's posts were extended on June 29 2004 when he was also designated the EU's first Minister for Foreign Affairs, a job combining the head of the CFSP with the European Commissioner for Foreign Relations (in May 2000 Chris Patten, then Commissioner for Foreign Relations claimed that Solana was encroaching on his activities) and Vice President of the Council of the EU in 2006 (if the new EU constitution is ratified). On July 12 2004 he was named head of a new European Defence Agency that provides political guidance to ensure greater efficiency in EU members military spending.
Solana has received both criticism and praise for the extent of the new powers outlined in the new Constitution. He has said that even under the new constitution the minister can only act when there is unanimity amongst member states.
On April 18, 2005 he told French students while electioneering for the May 29 referendum held there over ratifying the constitution that there is hostility towards the EU constitution from some American neoconservatives because they believe it represents a new rise in Europe's power. On May 4 he said the constitution would not undermine NATO. He has emphasised how important the ratification is to the security of the EU members. Ratification depends upon the complete assent of all constituent countries. On May 29, 2005, the French voters clearly rejected ratification. Javier Solana has said that despite this the EU will remain an actor on the world stage and would forge ahead with plans for a new diplomatic service.
He has negotiated numerous Treaties of Association between the European Union and various Middle Eastern and Latin American countries, including Bolivia and Colombia. Solana played a pivotal role in unifying the remainder of the former Yugoslavian federation. He proposed that Montenegro formed a union with Serbia instead of having full independence, stating that this was done to avoid a domino effect from Kosovo and Vojvodina independence demands. Local media sarcastically named the new country "Solania".
On January 21 2002 Solana said that the detainees at Guantanamo Bay should be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Convention. The EU has stated that it hopes to avoid another war like the Iraqi invasion through this and future negotiations, and Solana has said the most difficult moments of his job were when the United Kingdom and France, the two permanent EU Security Council members, were in disagreement.
The so-called Vilnius letter, a declaration of support by eastern european countries for the United States' aim of régime change in Iraq, and the letter of the eight, a similar letter from predominantly western european countries, are generally seen as a low-water mark of the CFSP. Solana has played an important role working with the UN, Russia, and the USA quartet in the Middle East and continues to be a primary architect of "The Roadmap" to work towards peaceful end to the conflict in Palestine.
On July 22 2004 he met Ariel Sharon in Israel. Sharon had originally refused to meet Solana, but eventually accepted that, whether he liked it or not, the EU was involved in the Roadmap. He criticised Israel for obstructing the Palestinian presidential election of January 9, 2005, but then met Sharon again on January 13. In November 2004 he assisted the United Kingdom, France, and Germany in negotiating a nuclear material enrichment freeze with Iran. In the same month he was involved in mediating between the two presidential candidates in the post-election developments in Ukraine, and on 21 January 2005 he invited Ukraine's new President Viktor Yushchenko to discuss future EU membership.
Solana is married to Concepción Solana, and they have two adult children, Diego and Vega, but he lives alone in Brussels, where his apartment has a reputation of being a focal point for Spanish politicians in or visiting this capital. He speaks fluent French, as well as English and Spanish. He has admitted that his family life has suffered as a result of his work.
He describes himself as an Atlanticist and a European. He has been said to eat little and sleep less, surviving on a diet of fish and fruit. He is a gun collector. He enjoys doing a little sport every day, and particularly swimming, cycling and running.
General Wesley Clark once asked Solana the secret of his diplomatic success. He answered: "Make no enemies, and never ask a question to which you do not know or like the answer." He has been described as a "squarer of circles".
U.S. ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow said of him: "He is an extraordinary consensus-builder who works behind the scenes with leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that NATO is united when it counts." He is a frequent speaker at the prestigious U.S. based Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). He is likewise active in the Foreign Policy Association (FPA) as well as the New York City based East West Institute.
He is a Knight of the Order of St Michael and St George, a member of the Spanish section of the Club of Rome. He has received the Grand Cross of Isabel the Catholic in Spain and the Manfred Wörner Medal from the German Defence Ministry. He received the Vision for Europe Award in 2003. He has been President of the Madariaga European Foundation since 1998.
- List of European Union-related topics
- General Affairs and External Affairs Council
- History of Serbia and Montenegro
- Peace of Westphalia
- Politics of Europe
- History of the European Constitution
- History of the European Union
- Enlargement of the European Union
- Itavia Flight 870
- Curriculum Vitae of Javier Solana
- shorter biography
- Biography in Spanish
- Interview as Spanish foreign minister in conflict with Canada
- Solana's development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy
- Spain and Solana's integration into NATO
- Assessment of next NATO Secretary General
- Civil liberties and Solana
- Interview about EDSP
- Madariaga European Foundation
- Interview with Physics world magazine
- Solana meets Sharon, July 2004
- Solana writes in Global agenda magazine