MORATINOS, Miguel Angel

Spanish diplomat born in 1951. He was assigned to the Spanish embassy in Yugoslavia (as First Secretary in 1979-1980 and Chargé d’affaires in 1980-1984) and in Morroco (as Political advisor from 1984 till 1987) before occupying a number of high ranking positions in the « Africa and Middle East Department » at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

He became ambassador of Spain to Israel in June 1996 before being appointed Special Envoy of the European Council of Ministers to the Middle East Peace Process in December of the same year. For his mission, he had a secretariat in Brussels, in the premices of the Council of Ministers of the European Union, but was technically based in Cyprus, which is the most convenient place to travel in the different countries he had to deal with.

According to the « Joint Action » adopted on 25 November 1996 by the Council of Ministers, the Special Envoy had the following mandate:

to establish and maintain close contacts with all the parties to the peace process, the other countries in the region, the United States, other interested countries and the competent international organisations in order to work with them for the reinforcement of the peace process;

to observe the peace negotiations between the parties and be ready to offer the advice of the EU and its good offices if requested by the parties;

to contribute, if requested, to the implementation of international agreements concluded between the parties and start with them a diplomatic process in case of non-respect of the provisions of these agreements;

to establish constructive contacts with the signatories of agreements in the framework of the peace process in order to promote respect for basic rules of democracy, including respect for human rights and the rule of law;

to report to the Council on the possibilities for the EU to intervene in the peace process and on the best way to carry on with the initiatives of the EU and its ongoing activities linked to the peace process, including the political aspects of development projects of the EU regarding the region;

to follow the actions of the parties which may put at risk the results of negotiations on the final status.

For Ambassador Moratinos, Europe should in the first place win Israel’s convidence and « react in such a way that it does not out-Palestinian the Palestinians ». This explains why he intervened personally before the Foreign Affairs Committee of both Houses of the Spanish Parliament (Cortes) in November 1996 to convince them to ratify – in spite of their reluctance – the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement between the EU and Israel signed in November 1995. He equally intervened before different committees of the European Parliament in December 1998 in favour of the new Scientific Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Israel at a time when the Council of Ministers itself was very divided on the timeliness of including Israel in the Fifth European Scientific Cooperation Programme considering the non-respect by Israel of the Wye River agreement. He also made determined efforts in 1999/2000, after the election of Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the relaunching of the Peace Process, to convince the European Commission to refrain from taking measures against the exports to the European market of products made in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian Territories.

Ambassador Moratinos was responsible of the EU “non-paper” on the negotiations in Taba (Egypt) in January 2001. The ‘Moratinos document’ was the only systematic account by a third party present at the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Taba, covering all permanent status issues including territory, Jerusalem, refugees and security. The paper was acknowledged by both Israelis and Palestinians as being a relatively fair description of the outcome of the negotiations. This paper could serve as a basis of any serious Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations to be launched in the future. (See MEDEA Special file: What did really happen in Camp David?)

His mission ended on June 30, 2003. In April 2004, he was appointed Spanish Foreign Minister in the incoming socialist ghovernment of José Luis Zapatero.

On the 14th of July 2003, the European Council appointed Ambassador Marc Otte (Belgium) as EU Special Representative for the Middle East Process. Marc Otte had been Belgian Ambassador in Israel and had served as diplomat in the US and in Congo. He had been advisor of EU High Representative Javier Solana on European security and defence issues for the last four years.

See also:

« Joint Actions » regarding the nomination of an EU special envoy for the Middle East peace process

Speech of H.E.M. Miguel Angel MORATINOS, EU Special Envoy, concerning the Peace Process, (Dubai, 3 April 1997) (in French)