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Palabras de S.M. el Rey en el recibimiento de la Medalla de la “Foreign Policy Association”

Harvard Club of New York (Estados Unidos), 5.26.2022

I cannot begin my remarks tonight without a word of profound sorrow, disgust and condemnation, in the wake of the terrible violent attacks and killings that have taken place in the past days and weeks.

Today, our thoughts and hearts are with the 21 victims of the tragedy in Texas. So I would like to express, on behalf of the Spanish people, my deepest condolences to their families and friends, and to the US authorities, at this difficult time.

Dear Mr.President, dear Friends of the F.P.Association:

Receiving the FPA’s medal is a truly a great honor for me. Therefore, let me thank you dearly for this recognition. I am particularly pleased to be able to receive it in person, after so many months during which the Covid-19 pandemic prevented us from meeting face-to-face. This is certainly a far more pleasant and convivial gathering than any virtual encounter could ever hope to be!

President Noel Lateef, Vice-chair Sabbagh, and all Directors of the Board, my sincere gratitude for this distinction. Of course, let me also congratulate my fellow awardees tonight, Valerie Biden Owens, Jeh Johnson, Giuseppe Bono (absent) and John Avlon. Last, but not least, allow me a special mention of my dear Dean Emeritus of the Walsh SFS at GU, Peter Krogh, with whom I had the privilege to share good times during my studies there in the mid 90’s.

Since my years there (2yrs at the Masters program), I have greatly appreciated the work of the FPA and other institutions like yours, which provide us, all around the world, with well-informed analysis and a better understanding of today’s global issues.

I last visited Washington DC in November 2019, to join the SFS’s Centennial celebrations. A splendid time to reflect and admire the school’s achievements and, of course, to see old friends from my student years, respected teachers and former alumni, like President Clinton, Secretary Albright, Georgetown Presidents F. Leo O´Donovan and Jack De Gioia, Deans Krogh, Gallucci... Again, I had the opportunity to appreciate the extraordinary work of scholars and professors who shed light on the world we live in.

Because light is indeed what we so badly need today, if we are to better understand the numerous and complex challenges we currently face and conduct ourselves or lead organizations, enterprises or Nations.

Over the last few decades, the international system has undergone profound transformations, due to globalization, the effects of the scientific and technological revolution, the emergence of new and assertive world actors, the exponential increase of available information ─and disinformation─, a more realistic awareness of global threats, among other trends. But in parallel, more lately we also see things like new shocks in global trade (chain of supply…), a polarized political and social discourse at a national and international level, and the questioning of democracy itself.

As a result, today the international “order” ─some of its basic tenants and hopes─ is once again under threat by conspicuous attempts to subvert it.

In this context, our international system needs to adapt better and easier to the fast and abrupt changes that define our time. It requires reformed multilateral organizations, in order to make them smarter, more robust and efficient ─more accountable and transparent─ in solving or minimizing those fundamental and long-lasting problems we share all around the world. We should therefore strengthen the international cooperation framework and its governance to address the global threats together; sharing the burdens and the responsibilities.

We have to rise to the challenge, be ready to make improvements where needed, but under the deep conviction that our democratic values should continue to be the guiding principles of our coexistence.

Ladies and gentlemen,
There is a war in Europe, a conflict that has brought back the dark memories of the past. Russia’s unjustified and illegal invasion of Ukraine, which is causing untold misery and suffering, is in all our minds as I speak.

This is a particularly dramatic episode in the longstanding global struggle between tyranny and freedom. And those of us who believe in democracy, human rights and a rules-based international order must stand together in support of the Ukrainian people, as indeed we are doing. Not only by principle or out of admiration for their remarkable courage and dignity, but more importantly because they are fighting to defend the very same values on which our own societies and institutions rest.

We must therefore continue to respond unequivocally to this unprovoked aggression and attend the horrific destruction and human suffering it is causing. In doing so, we ought to reaffirm the democratic and humanitarian values that we share, not only in Europe and the United States, but also in much of Latin America, as well as in many other parts of the World.

"...upholding freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and dignity involves a relentless commitment. It seems like an everlasting job, regardless of the transformations the World endures. We cannot take them for granted. Unfortunately, many current events are a permanent reminder of that and, therefore, demand our utmost and generous effort... from this very place ─and time─ we must make an appeal to preserve them so that no man, no woman, no society, remains indifferent. It is our duty and our responsibility. For ourselves and for our children..."

Spain sincerely believes that by reinforcing the transatlantic relationship that already exists between these three regional pillars —Europe, North America, and Latin America— we will be more capable to confront many of the developments we are seeing in the world, not only the consequences of this kind of unlawful aggression. Let alone to continue defending the key notion that, if we are to coexist in a civilized world, conflicts must be resolved peacefully.

You should not be surprised to hear me stress the importance of Latin America. I am convinced of the great potential that our strong bond with that region (the whole continent and the Caribbean) holds for the benefit of the world. And I know they rightly aspire to play a greater and more constructive role.

Spain brought to the Americas its language and culture, but also its values and world view, which were developed and codified by institutions such as the School of Salamanca —with its remarkable jurists, academics, and priests— which laid the basis of modern international law.

The common values and principles that we share, such as equality and dignity of all human beings, the rule of law and the respect for national sovereignty…, nurture and sustain the wealth of our democratic societies.

Sadly, these values and principles are once again under attack. Given our own difficult history, we fully understand the importance of the drama that is unfolding before us in Ukraine.

As you know, only when Spain successfully accomplished its peaceful transition to democracy in the 1970s did we begin to play a significant role in modern European and world affairs, particularly after we joined the E.C. in 1986. Democracy and Europe are thus at the heart of Spain’s identity today, and of how the world at large perceives our country, our society and institutions. Democracy and Europe unleashed Spain’s enormous potential.

If this war in Ukraine has taught us something, it is the crucial importance and centrality of the transatlantic bond. Spain will soon be celebrating the 40th anniversary of its accession to NATO. During these four decades, our armed forces —often acting in concert and in combined ops with their US counterparts and other members— have performed with distinction in innumerable NATO missions, proving time and again that we are a reliable and deeply committed allied nation.

It is largely thanks to this unwavering commitment that Madrid will once again ─after 25yrs─ host the next NATO summit, in late June. This gathering of the Alliance’s 30 heads of state and government could not be timelier. In addition to reaffirming their support for Ukraine, they will debate and establish NATO’s new Strategic Concept: the new roadmap required to navigate an increasingly unpredictable world for the next 10 years.

It is both a great honor and responsibility for us to host this event, and on that occasion, I am very much looking forward to meet the US President, Joe Biden, during his 1st visit to Spain. This will indeed be an opportunity to strengthen our ties. This is, precisely, a time to strengthen the bonds among allies and friends, like Spain and the US.

We do share a long history, one that is not always well known. Last January I travelled to Puerto Rico to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the city of San Juan, as I did in 2015 to Saint Augustine for its 450th anniversary and to San Antonio and New Orleans in 2018 for their 300th anniversary.

Soon, in 2026, the USA will celebrate the 250th anniversary of its independence, which ─remember─ Spain contributed in no small part to achieve... It will be a good occasion to reflect on our shared legacy. However, as you all know, we do not only base our ties on history, culture and language. Our political, security and strong economic relations have a firm anchor on shared and cherished values, those that are fundamental in our time to uphold human dignity and a peaceful coexistence, those that represent the very cornerstone of our modern societies: freedom and democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen,
Our world is complex and unpredictable, this much we know well, and the challenges we face are real, sometimes daunting. We need to better understand them and explore innovative ways to face them. We need guidance and inspiration to find the right policies, because, as Madeleine Albright said, “hate, emotionalism and frustration are not policies

I began my words with a reference to the light we need to understand those challenges, and overcome them. However, to fulfill that purpose we ought to reinforce qualities like courage, determination and vision for the future. Because in this current context, where everything seems to be questioned and under so much pressure, we require strong and ethical leaderships, no doubt; but also an all-out concerted effort from everyone.

With all its complexity and uncertainty, it is also clear that, it involves all of us, it concerns all of us… So I would like to take this opportunity to firmly vindicate democracy. Bottom line: there is no good alternative to democracy.

Upholding freedom, democracy and respect for human rights and dignity involves a relentless commitment. It seems like an everlasting job, regardless of the transformations the World endures. We cannot take them for granted. Unfortunately, many current events are a permanent reminder of that and, therefore, demand our utmost and generous effort.

 From this very place ─and time─ we must make an appeal to preserve them so that no man, no woman, no society, remains indifferent. It is our duty and our responsibility. For ourselves and for our children.

Thank you very much.

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Palabras de Su Majestad el Rey tras el recibimiento de la medalla de la “Foreign Policy Association”

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