Members of the government secretly traveled to Algeria on Friday amid diplomatic tensions and a gas crisis in Europe in the face of uncertainty over Russian deliveries.
Discreet contacts have been established between Algeria and Spain in recent weeks and materialized in a secret trip by Spanish officials to Algiers.
The strange journey was betrayed by tracking the aerial movements of the Iberian aircraft on a tracking platform which showed its movement from Torrejon air base in the outskirts of Madrid to the Boufarik military base 35 km from Algiers .
The aircraft that made the trip is an official plane of the Spanish executive first used by either Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez or Defense Minister Margarita Robles. He may also be used by other members of the Spanish executive, but his landing at a military air base suggests that he is one of the two officials mentioned above.
The Spanish Air Force Falcon 900, registered T.18-3, landed around noon in Algeria and did not take off again until after 6 p.m., a total of 6 hours spent with Algerian officials. The trip was deliberately wanted to be discreet since no information has filtered from the Spanish government, nor from the Algerian.
This discretion is explained in particular by the tense relations encountered at the moment between Algiers and Madrid following the sovereign Spanish position on the question of the Sahara. Spain supported Morocco through its 2007 autonomy plan submitted to the Security Council in order to put an end to the dispute over the Sahara.
Algeria strongly protested following this decision of the former colonial power in the Sahara, given that Algiers created and finances the Sahrawi separatist movement, the polisario front, against the territorial integrity of Morocco.
Madrid rejected the protests from Algiers, saying it was a sovereign decision and a state position and not just a government and rejected any interference in its internal affairs.
In reaction, on June 8, Algeria suspended the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation, signed on October 8, 2002, which deals with economic cooperation, defense and immigration.
And an association of banks in Algeria announced the freezing of import and export operations between the two countries before canceling the decision a few weeks later. This was followed by a denial from the official Algerian agency, APS, which affirmed that an association cannot replace the State by reversing any backtracking on the previous decision.
For their part, the Algerian authorities have not announced, confirmed or denied any of this information, leaving it unclear. However, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jose Manuel Albares confirmed the blocking of commercial operations by Algiers.
During its crisis with Spain, Algeria also strengthened its energy ties with Italy showing its desire to become a first-rate player for European energy supplies in the light of the gas crisis in Europe favored by the war in Ukraine.
And while the risk of interruption of supply by Russia for European countries having sanctioned Moscow, several European capitals have shown interest in Algeria, the closest country to fill this gap.
Recently, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke out in favor of the construction of a gas pipeline to transport energy from Portugal to northern and central Europe via Spain and France, regretting that this infrastructure is not already in place.
For her part, when the Spanish plane was heading for Algeria, the Spanish Minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, supported Olaf Scholz’s proposal and estimated that the gas pipeline could be under construction in eight or nine months and added that Spain could be the main connection between Algeria and Europe.
It should be noted that Algeria, in its diplomatic “war” launched against Morocco and its interests, did not wish to renew the contract relating to the Maghreb-Europe gas pipeline (GME) which passed through Morocco to serve Spain and Portugal.