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In the complex and relentless world of power, politicians and media, Cristina Gallach has remained refreshingly real, outspoken and kind. Her broad smile is captivating and her dark eyes engage her counterparts, letting them know that they have a captive listener.
Like no one else, Ms Gallach knows the game of media, having spent more than a decade in the field. When Ms Gallach met Javier Solana in the early 90’s, she was based in Russia as the Foreign Correspondent for the Spanish News Agency (EFE) covering the last years of the Perestroika. She was later transferred to Brussels, which ended up being her last assignment as a journalist. Asked if she found it difficult to “switch sides”, Gallach just laughs. “I don’t see us as standing on different sides. Every time I get to talk to journalists, I think of us as equals, trying to make the best out of it all.”
For the last 15 years, Ms Gallach has been the go-to woman in media relations at EU and international institutions, with 14 of those years spent working with Javier Solana. She first joined Mr Solana when he was Secretary General of NATO, and then continued with him at the EU Commission when Mr Solana became High Representative of the European Union for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP).
“Lots of travel, constant meetings with journalists and being on the job 24/7,” is how she sums up her time with Solana. “I was charged with trying to fulfill the need for adequate information and response.”
In addition to her role as Deputy Spokeswoman, Ms Gallach was responsible for Mr Solana’s public relations during the Kosovo crisis. Later at the EU, she ensured that Mr Solana’s visionary ideas were heard and understood by influential journalists, politicians and other stakeholders.
Through the ups and downs, Ms Gallach has been driven by a passion greater than anything she had known before – greater even than her appreciation for democracy which was fostered throughout her childhood in Franco’s Spain. “The EU secured our peace and security. Now the EU will secure our future,” she explains. “I saw it as my task to give the EU a voice, to be the person who talks well about it. The EU still needs much more visibility.”
As is her humble nature, “giving visibility” has only been one part of what she has contributed to the EU. In countless situations, Ms Gallach used her knowledge of foreign cultures and languages to successfully turn around precarious situations with journalists as well as between politicians. Ms Gallach has always given her all for what she believes is one of the “greater ideas of humanity.”
Together with her husband, Ms Gallach adopted two children from Russia who are now ten and seven years old. “When you adopt a child, the child gains a lot, but you do too,” she says. Even when she became a mother, though, her busy schedule was hardly allowed to slow down. “It was hard but I don’t regret it.”
“Being a woman certainly did not help me,” she says, “but every time I have the privilege to meet women from conflict zones, I have so much confidence that women can endure so much and still give life, love and a future.”
After acting as the official Spokeswoman for the Spanish EU Presidency in 2010 and joining Lady Ashton at the EU’s Foreign Services in 2011, her new tasks have yet to be determined. “Life has given me so many wonderful opportunities. I am sure the next one is just about to begin.”