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 14 July 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. He has been a member of the Spanish parliament since 1977. 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. 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. 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.
Solana is the head of the European Defense Agency, which was established in July 2004 in a bid to boost European defense capabilities in the field of crisis management and to sustain the European Security and Defense 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.