Friday, June 2, 2017

Spain and Russia commemorate three diplomatic anniversaries this year


500th anniversary of first documented diplomatic contact between Spain and Russia will take place in the coming months.

The Diplomat. 02/05/2017

Leaving aside the centenary of the revolutions and events in Russia of 1917, this 2017 is a “rich” year as regards bilateral anniversaries between Spain and that country, according to the new Spanish Ambassador to Moscow, Ignacio Ybáñez.

The 500th anniversary of the first documented diplomatic contact between Spain and Russia, with the letter of Charles I of Spain and V of Germany proposing to the Grand Duke of Moscow the establishment of diplomatic relations, will take place in the coming months. Besides, it is also the 350thanniversary of the arrival to Spain of the first Russian Embassy and the 40thanniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Spain and the Soviet Union after Franco’s regime.

“Now, we must use that good framework to strengthen our economic and business exchanges with Russia, to develop our cultural relations and to keep helping our national citizens resident in Russia”, Ybáñez emphasized in parliament. One of these contacts will take place at the end of May with the visit to be made to Moscow by the Minister of Energy, Álvaro Nadal, to chair the Industrial and Economic Joint Committee.

In the economic field, the Russian economy is the world’s thirteenth biggest and the Spanish is the fourteenth. In the last years, the accumulated effect of the Russian economic recession, the rouble’s devaluation facing the euro, the low oil prices and political sanctions due to Crimea’s invasion have drastically reduced bilateral trade.

In 2012, Spanish exports reached the record number of 2,930 million euros. However, since then, this number has continued falling to 1,602 million euros in 2016, which represents an accumulated fall of 45.3%.

This context and the measures of the Government of Vladimir Putin to encourage the location of production in Russian territory are making some Spanish companies reconsider their strategy, “giving up a purely exporting model and opting for a permanent establishment, either investing or reaching agreements on technology transfer with local partners”, the ambassador warned.

Despite that business situation, the entry of Russian tourists in Spain in 2016 increased by 2.2% after exceeding one million travellers. That number is below the record of 2013, of 1.5 million tourists, but it indicates that the Russian tourism is recovering as Russia gets out of the economic crisis.

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