Andorra - Foreign policy

Andorra has no armed forces trained for combat and its defense policy is handled by France and Spain. In part because it is landlocked between two large, powerful neighbors with which it is on good terms, Andorra has no apparent need for armed forces and defense arrangements beyond the protection or assistance that France and Spain provide.

From the mid-1980s, France and Spain attempted to nudge Andorra not only towards independence and democracy, but into firmer contacts with the outside world. To some extent, this effort by Andorra's neighbors was economically based: citizens from France and Spain sought greater certainty from their Andorran hosts when applying for work or residence permits. Politically, Paris and Madrid wished to see these workers gain rights of representation, something that was not allowed until a constitution guaranteeing such rights could be adopted. Independence in March 1993 was quickly followed by openings to the outside world and the establishment of civil and political norms common in European democracies. In July 1993, Andorra joined the UN. It has established diplomatic and trade relations with a number of countries, such as China, Cuba, South Korea, and Indonesia, from which it imports raw materials or finished goods for resale to foreign visitors. Although it has diplomatic relations with these countries, it has no diplomatic representation except in Paris, Madrid, and New York, at the UN. Andorra's ambassador to the UN is also its ambassador to the United States. As a further step towards marking its place as an independent, democratic state, in October 1994 it joined the Council of Europe, an international institution that sets standards for human and civil rights.

The Spanish and French governments have encouraged Andorra to take advantage of the European Union's (EU) free trade regulations by developing export industries. Through an agreement with the EU, Andorra obtained the right to export to EU countries with minimal tariffs on its goods. Tension between the countries of the EU and Andorra developed during the 1990s because of growing evidence of widespread cigarette smuggling through Andorra. In the late 1990s, European nations estimated that they were losing about €400 million ( US $428 million) in tax revenue from illegal sales of cigarettes through Andorra. In response, in late 1999, the Andorran government tightened customs laws and modified regulations to make smuggling specifically illegal.

Andorra's future may well depend upon its continued efforts to mesh into broader European life. Because it depends heavily upon its neighbors and foreign guests to survive, Andorra is likely to continue to be accommodating to France and Spain when those countries insist upon changes of policy. In the twenty-first century, Paris and Madrid are most likely to urge reform of citizenship laws in order to provide a guarantee of rights for long-time foreign residents who wish to become Andorrans, as well as a softening of the banking secrecy laws in order to limit the flow of illegal capital into the country.

Forné is dedicated to furthering Andorra's international relationships. He regularly addresses the UN; in 2001, Andorra began a three-year term on the UN's Economic and Social Council. The Council's 54 seats are assigned based on geographical representation (14 to Africa, 11 to Asia, 6 to Eastern Europe, 10 to Latin America and Caribbean, and 13 to Western Europe and others).

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