The Spanish Foreign Minister, José Manuel Albares, said that Algeria is "a solid partner" known for "scrupulous compliance" with its international gas contracts and that he has "no doubt" that it will do so with Spain, despite the signing of new contracts with Italy, a country that has turned its attention to the search for new suppliers to end its dependence on Russian gas.
"Algeria is a strategic partner of Spain, it is a solid partner in gas matters, it is one of its hallmarks", Albares told the press in Rome after meeting with his Italian counterpart, Lugi di Maio, with whom he discussed the energy issue and other challenges opened up by the war in Ukraine, but also those shared by both countries on the southern flank.
Albares insisted on Algeria's "scrupulous compliance with international contracts", before adding that he was not going to "fuel sterile polemics" and that he did not like "political fiction", when asked about the possibility of Algiers revising upwards the contracts with Spanish companies due to the change in Madrid's policy on the Sahara.
"Spain aspires to have the best relations with Algeria, and it is not incompatible to have good relations with Morocco and excellent relations with Algeria," he said.
The minister said that, with Di Maio, with whom he shares "the same identity and vision of Europe", they spoke of the need to have a common strategy in the face of new challenges, including energy challenges, and he considered that "it is not new that Italy supplies itself with gas, just like Spain".
"We have analysed the possible complementarity of Spain and Italy to make up for Italy's dependence on Russian gas. Spain has a very, very important regasification capacity on its coast, which could at any given moment help a very important partner like Italy to resolve a complicated situation", he explained.
"We have also talked about the need to complete energy connections in Europe, precisely in order to be able to help each other when one or the other needs it," he said, although he did not give more details.
The two ministers also discussed "the current interest of Italian companies in certain explorations off the coast of Morocco, in waters that are not Spanish" because "it is important that there is dialogue to ensure that these extractions do not have an environmental impact on the Canary Islands".
One of the things he discussed during his recent visit to Morocco was "the reactivation of the commission to delimit the waters between Morocco and Spain, which at the moment are not delimited", although he assured that "the extractions are not closer to the Canary Islands than to Morocco, they would be inside even if we were to make a median, according to international law of the sea they would be on the Moroccan side".
He added that this is an old idea that has been revived due to the current tensions over the gas market: "I am not aware that there is a date on which this will happen", he said.
"We have talked about energy and gas interconnections, we have discussed all the issues" and "we have seen clearly that Europe cannot find itself in a situation of dependence like this any more", he said.
"In the same way that there is a threat to our security in Ukraine and you can put pressure on a state by putting 15,000 soldiers on its border (...) you can also put pressure on a state by putting 15,000 irregular migrants on its borders or by threatening to cut off its energy flows," he said.
"These are threats that we can find in the east or in the south and this must be reflected in NATO's strategic concept", he said of the Atlantic Alliance summit to be held in Madrid in June.