Expel the Argentine ambassador or break relations, the following options for the Government in the crisis with Milei

Expel the Argentine ambassador or break relations, the following options for the Government in the crisis with Milei

He could also order the departure of lower-ranking diplomats from the Argentine Embassy.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Manuel Albares, has maintained that the Government has a “wide range” of measures to respond to what he considers an attack against Spanish institutions by the president of Argentina, Javier Milei. , although the traditional tools in diplomacy seem to be running out.

Albares has taken pride in the forcefulness of the measures adopted since Milei called the wife of the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, “corrupt” during a Vox event on Sunday. “In three days of crisis we have adopted three measures: the first day we called for consultations, the second day I summoned the ambassador and today, the third day, we permanently removed our ambassador from Argentina,” she summarized.

However, with this the Government has also ‘burned’, as diplomats acknowledge to Europa Press, some of the assets that exist in diplomacy to show other countries their discomfort. Now, following the manual, the expulsion of the Argentine ambassador and the breaking of relations would remain as the main options.

A first step could have been the communiqué, an instrument that the Government already used to respond to the Argentine Presidency on May 4. Then, the Casa Rosada reacted virulently to the words of the Minister of Transport, Óscar Puente, pointing to the consumption of “substances” by Milei.

In its statement, the Argentine Presidency maintained that “the Government of Pedro Sánchez has more important problems to deal with, such as the accusations of corruption leveled against his wife, an issue that even led him to evaluate his resignation”, pointing even then to the president’s wife.

Foreign Affairs responded by “flatly rejecting the unfounded terms” used by the Argentine Presidency, “which do not correspond to the relations of two brother countries and peoples”, but neither Buenos Aires nor Madrid wanted to go further and adopt more drastic measures. Puente himself, although without apologizing, acknowledged that if he had known the impact of his words he would not have spoken them.


The next tool, and in general the most used in moments of disagreement, is usually the summoning of the ambassador of the country in question at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where either the reason for the discomfort or complaint is simply conveyed to him or he is delivers a note of protest.

In this case, the Government left this gesture for the second day and first opted to call its ambassador in Argentina, María Jesús Alonso, for consultations. This is a much more forceful instrument and means that the current ambassador leaves his position to return to Madrid for an indefinite period of time.

Both the summoning of an ambassador and the call for consultations of one’s own are common gestures in diplomacy. The unusual thing in this case is that it was Albares himself who received the Argentine ambassador, Roberto Bosch, abroad, to demand a public apology from Milei for his words, since as a general rule it is usually a high-ranking, lower-ranking official. who performs this procedure.

Furthermore, both Albares and Sánchez had made it clear that if the Argentine president did not recant then they would adopt the measures they considered appropriate.

This Tuesday, after confirming that these apologies were not going to arrive after Milei reaffirmed his words and even defended that it is he who should be apologized to by the Spanish Government, Albares announced the withdrawal of the Spanish ambassador in Buenos Aires permanently, which leaves the Embassy with a charge d’affaires at the helm.

With this gesture, if the crisis with Argentina were to be redirected soon, a priori the Government would have to request approval from the Argentine Executive again if it wanted the same ambassador to return or appoint a new one.

The last time the Government called for consultations – without actually withdrawing – was the ambassador in Nicaragua in August 2021 and when months later it wanted to send her back, the Daniel Ortega regime objected, so it was finally decided. for appointing a new ambassador who ended up presenting credentials in January 2023.


Both with the call for consultations and with the withdrawal of the ambassador, the Government has skipped some of the steps provided for in the traditional order of diplomacy. Thus, for example, he could have first proceeded to expel a diplomat from the Argentine Embassy.

This is what has been done, for example, with Russia following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Spain, like its European partners, has expelled a large group of members of the diplomatic staff of the legation, but not of its ambassador to avoid a reciprocal measure from Moscow and thus being left without a head of mission in Russian territory.

This was also what was done in 2017 with North Korea. Then, the Government of Mariano Rajoy ended up expelling the North Korean ambassador in September of that year in response to the nuclear and missile tests by the Kim Jong Un regime, but previously, and as a warning sign, it had done the same with the ‘number two’ of the North Korean Embassy.

The expulsion of the Argentine ambassador, who happens to have presented credentials to King Felipe VI last Thursday at the Royal Palace, could therefore be the next step by the Government. As a general rule, the expulsion of an ambassador is responded to reciprocally, something that Argentina could not do in this case since there is no longer an ambassador in Buenos Aires. Also here the Argentine Government should request approval for its new ambassador.

The last time Spain expelled a foreign ambassador was in January 2018 and then it was in reciprocity to the measure adopted by Venezuela. The regime of Nicolás Maduro declared the Spanish ambassador, Jesús Silva, ‘persona non grata’ for the “continuous acts of interference in internal affairs” and Spain did the same with the Venezuelan ambassador, Mario Isea, although he had already been called to consultations beforehand in protest of EU sanctions.


The next step on this particular diplomatic ‘ladder’ would be the breaking of diplomatic relations. This would be the most drastic step and would entail the closure of the Embassy and the suspension of all activities of the Spanish mission. “It would be irrational” to reach this point, summarizes one diplomat.

The last precedent in this regard dates back to 1980. Then, Spain broke diplomatic relations with Guatemala as a result of the assault by the Guatemalan security forces of the Spanish Embassy, ​​where a group of farmers had taken refuge. The events resulted in 37 deaths, among them three Spaniards, one of them the consul. Relations would not be normalized until September 1984 with the signing of a treaty.

Furthermore, the Government would have at its disposal another good opportunity to make its discomfort visible: Milei’s planned visit to Madrid again on June 21 to receive an award. The Argentine Presidency has said that it remains on the agenda while Albares has announced that the Government will then analyze “in detail what type of visit Javier Milei wants to make to Spain.”

On this occasion, despite the fact that the Argentine president had not planned meetings with either the King or Sánchez during his stay in Madrid, in which he did meet businessmen to justify the official nature of the trip, the Government allowed him to land in the Torrejón Air Base and provided police protection.

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