It is “probable” that the US President Barack Obama will not attend the USA – EU conference to be held in Madrid between May 24 - 25.
This will come as a genuine disappoint to Spaniards as they were very much looking forward to seeing Obama in the flesh visiting their country. Whilst the US President might be under siege at home – internationally - he is still very popular and it could be that the more he is seen to be at odds with the “Fox Conservatives” in the Republican Party the higher his standing will rise.
The news will also come as a major blow to the Spanish premier José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero as the presence of Obama would have been the icing on his EU presidency cake.
The US seems to be aware of the major disappointment in Madrid and that country’s ambassador to Spain moved quickly to state the importance of the alliance between the two nations.
For Zapatero the EU presidency that runs from January to June is turning into a disaster. He has been ridiculed over his lightweight standing amongst the major European leaders. At home he was called a “cateto” – “country bumpkin” because a meeting at Davos World Economic Forum had to be halted whilst a translator told him what was being said –as he was the only person present who didn’t speak English. Mind you Spain’s opposition leader, Mariano Rajoy, doesn’t speak English either!
Make no mistake Zapatero badly needs to be walking in Obama’s shadow to sure up his popularity at home as he battles the economic crisis. Indeed both leaders may have had a lot to chat about behind the scenes as they use “socialist” policies to tackle the collapse in employment and business confidence.
Unless Obama has a profound change of mind he won’t be in Madrid or indeed Europe this spring. However, as of late, changing his mind has become an Obama trait there is hope yet. Zapatero will hope so!