Spaak, Paul Henri (pôl äNrēˈ späk) [key], 1899–1972, Belgian statesman and Socialist leader. He held various cabinet posts after 1935 and served almost continually as foreign minister from 1938 to 1949. A moderate Socialist, Spaak was three times prime minister (1938–39, 1946, 1947–49) in coalition governments. He was an opponent of the return of King Leopold III to Belgium. He was again foreign minister from 1954 to 1957, and he resumed that post from 1961 to 1966, serving also as deputy prime minister (1961–65). Spaak acquired international stature as first president of the General Assembly of the United Nations (1946), chairman of the Council for European Recovery (1948–49), and secretary-general of NATO (1957–61). In both national and international posts Spaak strove for the political and economic unification of Western Europe, and he was active in the creation of the organizations that have since become the European Union.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.