The 40th anniversary of Spain’s entry into the NATO military alliance has been marked today, Monday 30th May, at an event at the Teatro Real in Madrid.
The commemoration was marked with all leading political figures as well as King Felipe VI and the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.
The event coincides with the forthcoming summit of alliance leaders in Madrid next month as the alliance steps up the role it plays in the defence of European security in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The decision to enter NATO was made by the centrist Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, of the now defunct right wing UCD party in 1982
The decision was then put to a referendum by the Socialist government of Felipe González in 1986 which was passed by a strong majority in 1986.
Today’s event is a forerunner of the allied summit in Madrid, at the end of June and which will bring all NATO leaders including, President Joe Biden and Boris Johnson to the Spanish capital.
Biden will travel to Madrid from Bavaria, where the G-7 summit concludes on June 28, and it is expected that he will attend a welcome dinner with Felipe VI and other heads of state.
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez is expected to use the Madrid summit to reaffirm his commitment to double the Spanish defence budget (currently at 1.03% of GDP) to the NATO goal of 2% by 2030.
Spain has taken a leading role in the European response to the Russian invasion, including bolstering its contribution to the NATO force in the Baltics.
In addition Spain hosts a number of US and NATO bases including that of Torrejon on the outskirts of Madrid.