The NATO Summit: Spain Leads The Way In Organising Congresses


Fernando González Urbaneja | The NATO summit in Madrid has been a success in all respects, except for the recalcitrant naysayers, who have hardly been noticed. The rest of those involved leave the summit with the feeling of a job well done. In terms of content, in terms of the relevant “strategic definition” for the future of the organisation and its enlargement, the results are in line with the best of expectations. The image of unity came out of Madrid strengthened and the documents agreed left no fissures or misunderstandings. If the adversary of the moment, Putin, was aiming to weaken NATO, the result is the opposite and even greater.

Apart from the content, however, there are the organisational aspects that affect the host. It is not easy to organise a summit of this kind with 50 heads of government and the entourages they bring with them, with 2,000 demanding journalists and with adversaries ready to pour water on the wine. For Madrid, the challenge was a serious one, both for the authorities and for the public and private services that had to cater for the visitors without harming the residents.

The balance sheet is outstanding. In Spain, and in Madrid in particular, there is the infrastructure, professionalism and talent to receive and attend to thousands of very demanding visitors. The inconvenience to the people of Madrid due to traffic disruptions has been accepted without complaints; two days with some bearable discomfort.

The cultural display linked to the summit, with El Prado as the centrepiece, without prejudice to the Reina Sofía, the Teatro Real, La Granja… has been first class. Few cities in the world can do something similar. And the gastronomic offer is not far behind, both the official menus and the opportunity to get to know Madrid’s gastronomic temples have exceeded expectations. And the opportunity to get to know the so-called “Madrid for shopping” has not been left behind.

Spaniards know how to organise congresses of all kinds, be they trade fairs, summits, symposiums, conferences or weddings. The tourist potential is evident and goes beyond the traditional sun and beach. The NATO summit has provided the opportunity for a publicity campaign on the quality of Spanish services.

About the Author

Fernando Gonzalez Urbaneja
Over 30 years working in economic journalism. Fernando was founder and chief-editor at El País, general editor at the business daily Cinco Días, and now teaches at Universidad Carlos III. He's been president of the Madrid Press Association and the Spanish Federation of Press Associations. He's also member of the Spanish press complaints commission.