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Javier Solana

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Javier Solana

The Most Excellent
Javier Solana
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy
In office
18 October 1999 – 1 December 2009
Preceded by Jürgen Trumpf
Succeeded by Catherine Ashton
Secretary General of the Council of the European Union
In office
18 October 1999 – 1 December 2009
Preceded by Jürgen Trumpf
Succeeded by Pierre de Boissieu
Secretary General of the Western European Union
In office
20 November 1999 – 1 December 2009
Preceded by José Cutileiro
Succeeded by Arnaud Jacomet
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
In office
5 December 1995 – 6 October 1999
Preceded by Sergio Balanzino (Acting)
Succeeded by George Robertson
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
In office
16 June 1992 – 18 December 1995
Prime Minister Felipe González
Preceded by Francisco Fernández Ordóñez
Succeeded by Carlos Westendorp
Personal details
Born Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga
(1942-07-14) 14 July 1942
Madrid, Spain
Political party Spanish Socialist Workers' Party
Spouse(s) Concepción Giménez Díaz-Oyuelos
Alma mater Complutense University
University of Virginia
Profession Physicist

Francisco Javier Solana de Madariaga, KOGF (Spanish: ; born 14 July 1942) is a Spanish physicist and Socialist politician. After serving in the Spanish government under Felipe González (1982–1995) and Secretary General of NATO (1995–1999), he was appointed the European Union's High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union and Secretary-General of the Western European Union and held these posts from October 1999 until December 2009.


  • Background and career as a physicist 1
  • Spanish politics 2
  • NATO 3
    • Kosovo war 3.1
  • EU foreign policy chief 4
    • Foreign affairs 4.1
  • Personal life 5
  • Awards and honours 6
    • Spanish honours 6.1
    • Other countries 6.2
    • Awards 6.3
    • Arms 6.4
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Background and career as a physicist

Solana was born in Madrid, Spain. He comes from a well-known Spanish family, being the grand nephew of Spanish League of Nations disarmament chief, diplomat, writer and European integrationist Salvador de Madariaga[1] (Javier's grandfather, Rogelio de Madariaga y Castro and Salvador de Madariaga were cousins). His father was a chemistry professor, Luis Solana San Martín, who died when Javier was nineteen. His mother, Obdulia Madariaga Pérez, died in 2005.[2][3][4][5][6] Javier is the third of five children.[2] His older brother Luis was once imprisoned for his political activities opposing the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, subsequently became a distinguished leader in the Spanish telecommunications industry[7] and was one of the first socialist members of the Trilateral Commission.[8]

Solana studied at the Nuestra Señora del Pilar School, an exclusive Catholic 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, where he spent six years studying at various universities on a Fulbright Scholarship.[9] He visited the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Diego, and then enrolled in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. There, he taught physics classes as a Teaching Assistant and carried on independent research; he also joined in the protests against the Vietnam War and was President of the Association of Foreign Students. He received his doctorate in physics from Virginia in 1971 with a thesis on Theory of the Elementary Excitation Spectrum of Superfluid Helium: the Roton Lifetime, extending his planned stay in the US by a year in order to continue his research. 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.

Spanish politics

On returning to Spain in 1971 Solana joined the Democratic Co-ordination of Madrid as the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (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 20 May 1977 he accompanied González in visiting King Juan Carlos at the Zarzuela Palace.

He became a representative of a teachers' union in the Complutense University, and in this role won a parliamentary seat for PSOE on 15 June 1977 and represented Madrid region until December 1995. On 23 February 1981 he was in the parliament when it was taken over for 18 hours in an attempted coup by gunmen led by Antonio Tejero.

On 28 October 1982 PSOE won a historic victory with 202 out of 350 seats in the lower house. On 3 December, 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 22 July 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 27–28 November 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's 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 continued to play an active role in PSOE and Spanish politics. In June 1997, at the 34th 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 5 February 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 15 February 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.


Javier Solana in 1999

On 5 December 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, in the past, he had been an opponent of NATO. He had written a pamphlet called 50 Reasons to say no to NATO, and had been on a US subversives list. On 30 May 1982 Spain joined NATO. When PSOE came to power later that year, Solana and the party changed their previous anti-NATO positions into an atlanticist, pro-NATO stance. On 12 March 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 deal with the Joint Forge.

During Solana's term, 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 NATO members and between NATO and non-NATO States. In December 1995 France partially returned to the military structure of NATO, while in November 1996 Spain joined it. On 27 May 1997, after 5 months of negotiations with Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov, an agreement was reached resulting in the Paris NATO-Russia Founding Act.[10] On the same day, Solana presided over the establishment of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council to improve relations between European NATO and non-NATO countries.

Kosovo war

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 Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadžić and Ratko Mladić. In late 1998 the conflict in Kosovo, between the Yugoslav authorities and the Kosovar Albanian guerilla Kosovo Liberation Army deteriorated, culminating in the Račak massacre on 15 January 1999, in which 45 Albanians were killed. 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 30 January 1999, NATO announced that it was prepared to launch air strikes against Yugoslav targets. On 6 February, Solana met both sides for negotiations at the Château de Rambouillet, but they were unsuccessful.

On 24 March, NATO forces launched air attacks on military and civilian targets in Yugoslavia. Solana justified the attacks on humanitarian grounds, and on the responsibility of NATO to keep peace in Europe and to prevent recurrences of ethnic cleansing and genocide similar to those which occurred during the Bosnian War (1992–1995).

Solana with Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright, 1999

Solana and NATO were criticised for the civilian casualties caused by the bombings.[11][12] On 23–24 April, the North Atlantic Council met in Washington D.C. where the Heads of State of the member nations agreed with the New Strategic Concept, which changed the basic defensive nature of the organisation and allowed for NATO intervention in a greater range of situations than before.

On 10 June, Serbian forces withdrew from Kosovo, and NATO stopped its attacks, which ended the George Robertson.

EU foreign policy chief

After leaving NATO, Solana took up a role in the European Defence Agency.

The European Constitutional Treaty combining the head of the CFSP with that of the European Commissioner for External Relations. It would give a single voice to foreign policy and combine the powers and influence of the two posts with a larger budget, more staff and a coherent diplomatic corps. The position (colloquially known as "Mr. Europe") has been partly maintained in the Reform Treaty as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, but Solana is not going to take the post as he announced that he would step down at the end of his term.[13]

In late 2004, Solana held secret negotiations with Hamas leaders, saying that he met them at a time when there seemed to be an opportunity for progress, and were to "pass a clear message of what the international community wants", and said that the meetings occurred "months" before.[14]

Foreign affairs

Solana with Colin Powell in April 2003

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 form 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 21 January 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 the UK, Italy, and six second-tier countries, are generally seen as a low-water mark of the CFSP.

Solana has played an important role working toward a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and continues to be a primary architect of the "Road Map for Peace," along with the UN, Russia, and the United States in the Quartet on the Middle East. On 22 July 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 Road Map. He criticised Israel for obstructing the Palestinian presidential election of 9 January 2005, but then met Sharon again on 13 January.

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.[15]

In 2010, after he had left office, he signed a petition along with 25 other EU leaders directed at his successor, Catherine Ashton, calling for EU sanctions on Israel in response to continued settlement construction in the West Bank.[16]

Personal life

Solana is married to Concepción Giménez, and they have two adult children, Diego and Vega. He lives in Brussels, where his apartment has a reputation of being a focal point for Spanish politicians in or visiting this capital. Apart from his native Spanish, he also speaks fluent French, as well as English.

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."[15] 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. In March 2010, Dr. Solana became honorary president of the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, and in 2011 became a Member of the Global Leadership Foundation, an organization which works to promote good governance around the world.

He is an honorary Knight Commander of the Carnegie-Wateler peace prize. He has also been awarded the Charlemagne Prize for 2007 for his distinguished services on behalf of European unification.[17] In December 2009, Javier Solana joined ESADE Business School as President of its new Centre for Global Economy and Geopolitics. In January 2010, King Juan Carlos I appointed Javier Solana the 1,194th Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece for his career in diplomacy.[18]

Awards and honours

Spanish honours

Other countries



Arms of Javier Solana
Javier Solana was created knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 2010.
Issuant from a torse Azure, Or, Vert and Gules, a plume of four ostrich feathers Or, Azure, Vert and Gules;
Mantling Or, Azure, Vert and Gules.
Quarterly, first and fourth Azure a sun Or between four eight-rayed stars Argent, second and third Vert four bars Or between fifteen escallops Or 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 terraced wavy Argent and Azure, on a bordure gules four crescents Argent between as many four-rayed stars Or.
Order of the Golden Fleece collar.
The arms of Solana family quartered with the arms of the House of Madariaga.[24][25][26]

See also


  1. ^ Biography of Luis Solana (brother of Javier Solana) at his blog (in Spanish):
    Heredó de su abuelo materno [Rogelio de Madariaga y Castro] la revista “España Económica”, publicación que dio cabida a jóvenes economistas críticos con el régimen de Franco. Sobrino nieto de D. Salvador de Madariaga.
    He inherited from his maternal grandfather [Rogelio de Madariaga y Castro] the magazine "España Económica", which accommodated young economists critical of the Franco regime. (He's) the grand nephew of D. Salvador de Madariaga
  2. ^ a b Death notice of Obdulia Madariaga Pérez, widow of Solana
  3. ^ Movimiento nobiliario 1934, page 167. News about the marriage between Luis Solana San Martín and Obdulia Madariaga.
  4. ^ ¡Feliz Navidad, Maribel!, post in Luis Solana's blog (Luis Solana is Javier's brother) and the post accounts mentions the five brothers.
  5. ^ Death notice of Enrique de Madariaga y Pérez-Gros. It mentions Obdulia as sister and Luis Solana San Martín as brother-in-law.
  6. ^ Death notice of Juana San Martín Yoldi, widow of Ezequiel Solana. It mentions all her sibling, including Luis.
  7. ^ "BIOGRAFíA". Luis Solana. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "CIDOB". CIDOB. 
  10. ^ NATO. "NATO - Official text: Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France, 27-May.-1997". NATO. 
  11. ^ New Figures on Civilian Deaths in Kosovo War by Human Rights Watch
  12. ^ Human Rights Watch Letter to NATO Secretary General Javier Solana
  13. ^ EU's Solana to step down
  14. ^ "BBC NEWS - Middle East - EU denies secret talks with Hamas". 
  15. ^ a b Clark, Wesley K. Waging Modern War. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2001–2002, p. 15
  16. ^ "Former EU leaders urge sanctions for Israel settlements". BBC News. 
  17. ^ Internationaler Karlspreis zu Aachen – News
  18. ^
  19. ^ (Spanish)Javier Solana's Order of Alfonso X, the Wise appointment. Spanish Official Journal (96/01/27) (PDF)
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p (Spanish)Javier Solana Madariaga, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs.
  21. ^ (Spanish)Diario El País (05/11/11)
  22. ^ (Spanish)Javier Solana knight of the Christ Order,
  23. ^ "Saakashvili condecora a Solana por su apoyo a los intereses de Georgia". 
  24. ^ Ceballos-Escalera Gila, Alfonso de, Marqués de la Floresta; Mayoralgo y Lodo, José Miguel de , Conde de los Acevedos (1950-); Menéndez Pidal, Faustino (1996). La Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro y su armorial ecuestre. Madrid: Patrimonio Nacional and Ed. Toisón ISBN 978-84-922198-0-3
  25. ^ (Spanish) Solana arms, Albakits.
  26. ^ (Spanish) Madariaga arms, Albakits.

External links

  • Biography of Javier Solana at CIDOB (Spanish) (updated to 2010)
  • Solana steps down as EU foreign policy chief
  • EU's quiet diplomat steps aside after 10 years
  • Curriculum Vitae of Javier Solana
  • Assessment of next NATO Secretary General
  • Civil liberties and Solana
  • Euro-Mediterranean Partnership for Peace
  • European Neighbourhood Policy
  • IMDB page
  • Interview about EDSP
  • Interview as Spanish foreign minister in conflict with Canada
  • Interview with Physics world magazine
  • Online Resource Guide to EU Foreign Policy
  • Madariaga European Foundation
  • Shorter biography of Javier Solana
  • Solana's development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy
  • Solana meets Sharon, July 2004
  • The puzzle of Solana's power
  • Book about Javier Solana, 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Soledad Becerril
Minister of Culture of Spain
Succeeded by
Jorge Semprún
Preceded by
Eduardo Sotillos
Spokesman for the Government of Spain
Succeeded by
Rosa Conde
Preceded by
José María Maravall
Minister of Education of Spain
Succeeded by
Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba
Preceded by
Francisco Fernández Ordóñez
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain
Succeeded by
Carlos Westendorp
Preceded by
Jürgen Trumpf
High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy
Succeeded by
Catherine Ashton
as High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Secretary General of the Council of the European Union
Succeeded by
Pierre de Boissieu
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Sergio Balanzino
Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Succeeded by
George Robertson
Preceded by
José Cutileiro
Secretary General of the Western European Union
Succeeded by
Arnaud Jacomet
Academic offices
Preceded by
José Manuel Barroso
College of Europe Orateur
Succeeded by
Jean-Claude Juncker
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