Spain’s defence minister, Carme Chacon has been holding hurriedly arranged talks with NATO chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.
The two needed to clear the air after last week’s surprise unilateral announcement that Spain would be withdrawing its troops from the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Kosovo. With disapproval emanating from several members of the military alliance, Chacon reassured the secretary general that the pull out would be coordinated with NATO and described the talks as “constructive”. Spain has just over 600 soldiers stationed in Kosovo which declared itself independent last year. Madrid, which is trying to curb regional nationalism in Catalonia and the Basque Country, refuses to recognise Kosovo as a sovereign nation and sees no role for its troops in helping to establish national institutions there. But the sudden announcement, without prior consultation with NATO has led some within the organisation to question Spain’s reliability as an ally.