Visiting Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday (15-16 July 2020), NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended a ceremony of remembrance for the victims of COVID-19 at the Royal Palace.
Led by His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain, the ceremony included families of the victims, representatives of health services, security and armed forces, political and civil society leaders. The Secretary General and the other participants laid a white rose each in the palace square in memory of the victims, paying tribute to the resilience of the Spanish people throughout the pandemic and in gratitude to all those on the front line. Other international participants included leaders of the European Union and the Director-General of the World Health Organization.
The Secretary General later met with Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya to discuss NATO’s response to COVID-19 and preparations for a possible second wave. The Secretary General thanked Spain for showing strength and solidarity throughout the pandemic, including by helping NATO partners. Spain has donated medical equipment to Iraq, while at home, many thousands of Spanish troops have played a vital role in supporting civilian efforts to tackle COVID-19. The Secretary General highlighted that Spain has not stood alone, as deliveries of vital medical supplies from other NATO Allies have eased the burden on the Spanish healthcare system and helped to save lives. Support from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland and Turkey has been coordinated through NATO’s Euro-Atlantic Disaster Relief Coordination Centre.
The Secretary General and the Spanish Foreign Minister addressed NATO’s preparations for a possible second wave, with an operation plan, a stockpile of medical equipment, and more funding. The Secretary General thanked Spain for its continued contributions to the Alliance, despite the pandemic, including through NATO’s missions in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as participation in the Baltic Air Policing Mission and the multinational battlegroup in Latvia. The Secretary General and the Spanish Foreign Minister also addressed the fight against terrorism, the situation in Mediterranean region, and other current security challenges.