Dr Solana, who was born in Madrid in 1942, is a professor of solid-state physics and author of over thirty publications in the field. In national politics, he was a member of parliament from 1977 to 1995. He is a member of the Spanish Socialist Party. He held a variety of cabinet posts from 1982 including Minister of Culture, government spokesman and Minister of Education and Science before becoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in July 1992, a portfolio he held until his appointment as NATO Secretary General.
In the international sphere, Dr. Solana was appointed Secretary General of NATO on 5 December 1995. During his mandate, which coincided with a significant phase in European history, NATO went through a crucial stage in its development. It dispatched a peace-keeping force to Bosnia and Herzegovina. It also negotiated and signed the Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russia Federation. In 1997 Dr. Solana chaired the NATO Summit in Madrid at which the Alliance invited the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland to begin talks on joining the Alliance, thus opening NATO's doors to the East and helping to transform the political map of Europe.
In the European Union, Dr. Solana was appointed Secretary General of the Council of the EU and the first High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) in 1999. The same year, he was also appointed Secretary General of the Western European Union (WEU). In 2004, the European Council renewed his mandate as High Representative for a second term until 2009 and became the Head of the European Defense Agency (EDA).
Dr. Solana has received decorations from various countries, and has been awarded the degree of Doctor Honoris Causa by different universities worldwide.