Javier Solana, the NATO secretary general between 1995 and 1999, must obtain his visa via the conventional route and undergo the full vetting process. According to the Washington Post, Solana told the press on Sunday that he had applied for an electronic visa waiver to travel to the United States and was denied. The reason that his application had been rejected was that he had traveled to Iran in 2013.
Solana has been at the forefront of international negotiations. After his time at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he served as the European Union’s high representative for common foreign and security policy. According to Eur-Lex, he was the first holder of the position from 1999-2009, and under the Amsterdam Treaty he was given the mandate to represent the EU on the world stage. It was during this period that he was able to provide his expertise in negotiations about Iran’s nuclear program.
The former secretary general ordinarily would not have been expected to apply for a visa since he hails from Spain. Spaniards are not required to apply for visas to the United States if their stay is less than 90 days. However, when Solana applied for his visa to be renewed, via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, he was rejected. Solana now has to apply via the conventional, traditional route.
While the news that his visa waiver was rejected has been widely criticized, it must be pointed out that the protocol for rejecting his ESTA waiver actually predates the Trump administration. According to the Department of Homeland Security legislation which was introduced in 2016, ESTA waivers are not issued to people who have visited one of the blacklisted countries after March 1, 2011. The seven blacklisted countries are Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
A Department of Homeland Security official confirmed that Solana would have to apply for a visa. However, each visa interview is uniquely tailored to every individual.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications, and every prospective traveler to the United States undergoes extensive security screening.”
Javier Solana was travelling to the United States to attend an event in Washington, which was organized by the Brookings Institute. He was asked to be a speaker at the function. In an interview with Spain’s Antena 3 TV channel, Solana spoke about the fact that his ESTA waiver was denied and remarked that he considered the U.S. decision to be “petty.”