About His Excellency Javier Solana

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Javier Solana was appointed for a second five-year mandate as Secretary-General of the Council of the EU and EU High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in July 2004. He has also been serving as secretary-general of the Western European Union (WEU) since November 1999.

Solana was born on July 14th 1942 in Madrid, Spain. The son of an illustrious Spanish family, he earned a doctorate in physics and was a Fulbright scholar at several US universities. He taught solid-state physics at Madrid Complutense University before entering politics.

Solana, who joined the Spanish Socialist Party in 1964, was known as a radical in his youth under the regime of General Francisco Franco. He has been a member of the Spanish parliament since 1977.

Solana held a number of cabinet posts in the four governments headed by Spanish Socialist leader Felipe Gonzales between 1982 and 1996. He was minister of culture from December 1982 until July 1988, acting also as government spokesman during the latter half of that period. Solana then served as minister for education and science from July 1988 to July 1992, when he became minister of foreign affairs for a staunchly pro-NATO government in Madrid. He left that post in December 1995, when he became NATO secretary-general.

Solana's tenure as head of the Alliance spanned a period of intense NATO involvement in the Balkans. Within days of taking up his new job, the NATO-led, multinational Implementation Force (IFOR) was deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to enforce the military aspects of the Dayton peace agreements. During the Kosovo crisis, NATO directed air strikes against Serbia in the spring of 1999. In July 1997, he presided over the NATO summit in Madrid where the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland became the first of the former communist states to be invited to begin talks to join the then 16-nation Alliance.

"He is an extraordinary consensus-builder who works behind the scenes with leaders on both sides of the Atlantic to ensure that NATO is united when it counts.," US ambassador to NATO Alexander Vershbow said of Solana at that time.

In October 1999, Solana left NATO to become secretary-general of the Council of the EU and its first "high representative" for CFSP, tasked with presenting ideas and analysing policy options to help EU leaders agree on foreign and security policy issues, thereby giving the Union more political clout in international affairs.

During the EU's December 2003 summit in Brussels, the heads of state and government of the then 15 member states unanimously approved the bloc's first-ever official security strategy paper, drafted under Solana's responsibilities. The 14-page European Security Strategy outlined addressing both distant as well as near-at-hand threats and building security in the European neighbourhood as key objectives in the EU's efforts to defend its security and promote its values. The document also stressed that the EU was not thus seeking to break the alliance with North America.

Solana is the head of the European Defence Agency, which was established in July 2004 in a bid to boost European defence capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defence Policy.

He also represents the EU in the Middle East Quartet -- the four-member group involved in mediating the peace process in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and comprising also the UN, the United States and Russia.

Solana is also a member of the Spanish Chapter of the Club of Rome.

He is married and has two children. (Source: Southeast European Times)