MAJORCAN diplomat Jorge Dezcallar has had a busy weekend as Spanish Ambassador to the Vatican, as he has been preparing today's visit by Crown Prince Felipe and his wife doña Letizia, who will be staying at the Embassy, a 16th century palace built in 1480 by the Catholic monarchs, Isabel and Fernando.
But before his posting to Rome, he was head of the CNI, the Spanish Intelligence Service, from 2001 until his appointment as Ambassador at the beginning of June this year.
He declined to comment on the 11-M bombings in Madrid or the war in Iraq, which both occurred while he was head of Intelligence, as he is due to appear before Congress to explain the situation.
From being in the eye of the storm so to speak, he has moved to a situation of absolute tranquillity in the Spanish Embassy in Rome.
- How did you welcome your appointment as Spanish Ambassador to the Vatican?
- With enormous satisfaction. In the diplomatic ranking, this embassy is one of those which are called first division.' To give you an idea, in the past Ambassadors have included the Conde Duque de Olivares. The Spanish Embassy is the oldest one in the Vatican, as it was created in 1480 by the Catholic Monarchs. And I am proud that the Spanish government has put its trust in me.
- What is your function as a diplomat?
- The Vatican is a country which covers 44 hectares and there are about 100 accredited ambassadors, all with the same function: to be the link between the countries and the Holy See. The Vatican has an important projection, moral and political leadership, which means that everything it analyses, such as the genocide in Suddan or the Middle East problem is of great importance.
- How did you present your credentials to the Pope?
- I received the approval of the Vatican very quickly, in four days, after which I presented my credentials to the Pope. During the conversation I had with him, we spoke of the time when I was at the Spanish Embassy in Warsaw, as a diplomet, and the time I visited him when he was Bishop of Cracow. He was very affectionate.
- How did the audience between Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and the Pope go?
- I merely did my job, which was to prepare the visit and the content of the audience, and to help the Prime Minister in every way to facilitate the meeting with the Pope.
- Are you comfortable in Rome after the othe postings which you have occupied during your career, including the Intelligence Service?
It is a pleasant and relaxed posting. One has a perspective of eternity from the Vatican and this helps in the analysis of events. There are no legislatures or changes, which gives a certain calm. I had already learned that during my time as Ambassador in Rabat, but the diplomatic activity here is very intense. For example, the recent visit by the training ship Juan Sebastian Elcano, and today's visit by Prince Felipe and doña Letizia, who will have an audience with the Pope. They will be staying at the Embassy residence in the Palazzo di Spagna. It is a 16th century palace, one of the most beautiful buildings in the Vatican.
- What is your state of mind after everything that happened while you were head of the Intelligence Service?
- One of great disquiet and sadness for what has happened. The world is folowing a path where insecurity will last for a very long time and where the sense of invulnerability will not exist. We cannot give victories to the terrorists. The case of the (Basque separatist group) ETA is the clearest example because of the success of the anti-terrorist fight, the CNI, society and the population in general. We are now immersed in a period under radical Islamics.
- Is it possible to act in the same way as against ETA?
- Stopping radical Islamics is going to be a very long battle and the setting is more globalised, but the same strategy must be used. This will call for a very great effort from the security forces who will have to adapt to circumstances, because the rise of radical Islam has caught all countries on the wrong foot.
- You will shortly have to appear before Congress to explain the actions of the CNI over the Madrid bombings of March 11, how will you go?
- With a clear conscience. I will reply to all questions. I have shown in my career that I am an independent person and that is what I will do. I will answer everything.
- Do you think that relations between Spain and Morocco are changing?
- The situation has taken a qualitative leap through the fact that it will join the European free exchange zone, which will have a positive effect on the trade balance between the two countries. Spain is the leading investor there and has a great potential, but it is true that there is a lot of competition to capture European invesment capital throughout North Africa and on an international level.
- Do you see on the horizon an industrial North Africa which will control and settle the current immigration situation?
The population in North Africa is growing at the rate of two million persons a year, while in Europe it has stabilised. This growth has to be controlled in some way, hence investments in agriculture and tourism. The whole of North Africa needs incentives, because I am sure that this will prevent illegal immigration.
- How do you perceive the opening of Libya?
- It has a great commercial projection, a great future and many opportunities for investment.