In his memoirs, he admits his fascination with the Spanish Crown and claims that Spain should be “a first-line ally.”


Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy recognizes his discomfort with the “condescension” and “feeling of superiority” that his predecessors in office showed towards Spain and also regrets the “traditional passive complacency” towards ETA shown by France, which he wanted to leave behind during his years at the head of the Elysée.

This is what he says in his memoirs ‘The Years of Struggles’ (Alianza Editorial), collected by Europa Press, in which he narrates in detail all his impressions of his State visit to Spain in April 2009 and also his “great affection” for the country.

“I have never understood, nor accepted, that kind of condescension that I have often observed in our elites with respect to the Iberian Peninsula,” explains Sarkozy, who on the other hand maintains that Spain “should be a partner, an ally, a first-class friend.” line”. “Any feeling of superiority towards this great nation has always seemed to me to be absolutely misplaced,” she says.

According to the president, his predecessor in office, Jacques Chirac, “did not like José María Aznar and did not have the slightest Hispanic orientation.” “François Mitterrand the same,” he adds, underlining that in general “the only political priority” was very often Germany.

In general, in French politics the “sentimental preference always pointed to Italy”, while the “spontaneous hostility” was directed towards the United Kingdom and the “exasperation was recurrently targeted at the countries of Eastern Europe”, he adds. , regretting that in his opinion “Spain was the great absentee.”

“That general attitude of slightly disdainful distance, or at least indifferent, was unfair, inappropriate and regrettable,” claims Sarkozy, who praises Spain’s “particularly innovative economy” as well as its “culture and its artists, among the most talented in the world.” “.

Sarkozy particularly disgraces the “traditional posture of passive complacency (of France) towards the terrorism of ETA, who we allowed to use our territory as a base for full-fledged withdrawal, which meant enormous damage to the Spanish authorities, who were protesting.” .

The former conservative president denounces that “that was invariably the policy of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, François Mitterrand and Jacques Chirac” to which he defends that he “unceremoniously put an end to it” when he was appointed Minister of the Interior by the latter president in 2002. .

He dedicated a good part of the speech he gave before the Cortes during his visit precisely to the terrorist group. Sarkozy says that he was aware that “the audience’s expectations were great” and that is why he “deliberately chose to put on the table, above all, the terrorism of the Basque independentists of ETA.”

“He wanted to make it clear at all costs that France would always be a loyal friend of Spanish democracy against its enemy, the terrorists” since “that had not always been the case” and the country “had sometimes shown itself complacent with that gang.”

Faced with this, Sarkozy emphasizes, he did not hesitate to “call the ETA members murderers” and to make it clear that “France, homeland of human rights, would disgrace itself by accepting to be, in one way or another, a sanctuary for those terrorists.” His words, as he remembers, made “the deputies and senators of all stripes jump to their feet and burst into applause.”

In this chapter, Sarkozy also describes his impressions and opinions about his interlocutors during that visit to Spain. Thus, regarding the President of the Government, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, he assures that he ended up “finding a way to create a complicity almost of friends and that days before their meeting, an article in a French newspaper had attributed to him an unfathomable opinion of the person who occupied then the Moncloa Palace.

“Fortunately my interlocutor, as the experienced politician that he was, had not fallen into the trap,” congratulates Sarkozy, who is grateful that Zapatero did not give importance to that information that, according to him, only sought to feed his bad image as someone “egocentric.” , presumptuous, rude.”

The French president also had the opportunity to meet with the president of the PP and leader of the opposition, Mariano Rajoy, whom he already knew from the time when they were both Ministers of the Interior. “It was impossible to imagine two more different personalities and temperaments” than those of Rajoy and Aznar, he says.

“Rajoy was somber, reserved and taciturn to the same extent that his former mentor was charismatic, loquacious and explosive,” he says. In this sense, he acknowledges that he thought to himself that “he seemed more like a Nordic than a Southerner, to such an extent it was difficult to get him to relax or get a smile out of him.”

In his opinion, “it was his great capacity for work, perseverance and rigor, a kind of Jansenism, that had allowed him to aspire to occupy the highest positions.”

Likewise, the former president acknowledges that the Spanish Crown has always “fascinated” him. In this sense, he dedicates special attention to recounting how both the private lunch he had with his wife, Carla Bruni, with King Juan Carlos I and Sofía in Zarzuela, and the gala dinner that took place at the Royal Palace took place. .

During the first, he remembers that Don Juan Carlos, “although he was not a socialist,” explained to him that “he had not had the slightest problem with President Zapatero” and that “their relationship was cordial, quite trusting, which gave rise to a intelligent collaboration at the service of Spain”. “Then it didn’t seem to me that there was any type of attack on the monarchy from the Spanish left, which clearly saw the usefulness of a King for a country that was undermined by the Basque and Catalan divisions,” he recalls.

As for Queen Sofía, “she was infinitely more reserved than her husband” and specifies that he and his wife thought that “the relations between the two monarchs were quite tense, although that was more a sensation than revealed information.” “.

Of the State dinner at the Royal Palace, he highlights that it was “as majestic as it was impressive” and admits that “when it comes to pomp and protocol, monarchies are unsurpassed.” In this sense, Sarkozy admits to being in favor of this pageantry.

“I believe that, to command lasting respect, power needs to maintain distance and embody symbols of unity that are expressed through prestigious and traditional ceremonies. I do not believe that a power that boasts of closeness, normality and transparency is going to be less criticized than anyone else,” he writes in his memoirs.

The then Prince of Asturias and Princess Letizia were at that dinner. Sarkozy says that he saw in the now king a “husband in love” and also noted that “Letizia’s relationship with the king, her father-in-law,” did not seem to him “neither trust nor affection.” “I clearly noticed a reluctance, undoubtedly reciprocal,” he adds.

Sarkozy also remembers anecdotally the media attention that Princess Letizia and Carla Bruni provoked at the dinner, and says that when his wife found out that the El Pardo Palace, where they spent the night as it was a state visit, had been the residence of Franco “had a hard time falling asleep.”