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Palabras de Su Majestad el Rey en la cena ofrecida a las delegaciones de jefes de Estado y de Gobierno asistentes a la Cumbre de la Organización del Tratado del Atlántico Norte (OTAN)

6.28.2022

Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government, ladies and gentlemen, 

Allow me to give you all the biggest and warmest welcome to Spain. Queen Letizia and I feel greatly honoured to host you tonight for this dinner at The Royal Palace of Madrid, on the eve of such an important summit gathered around the Atlantic Alliance. We are indeed very happy to see you, and to meet some of you for the first time.

Never before has this Palace embraced and seated such a large number of top World Leaders at a time.

This is not the first time −however− these walls and tapestries have witnessed a NATO gathering of this nature. It happened in 1997, also in times of intense change and reshaping…, not only in Europe.

Twenty-five years ago, inspired by the legitimate aspirations of a considerable number of Eastern European countries, NATO decided to take the first step towards an enlargement process that would hopefully −and definitely− overcome the Cold War. Well, we cannot ignore the profound symbolism that connects these two historic moments in which Spain and the city of Madrid have welcomed NATO for its annual summit. 

At that moment in history, despite the threats to international peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic space, there was a prevailing spirit of optimism. It laid on our conviction that the fall of the Berlin Wall had paved the way to achieve a universal reach of the basic values and principles held in the preamble to the Washington Treaty: democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. 

Today, the geostrategic reality has radically changed. We now witness and experience the merge of both old and new threats, of old and new challenges.

Your Excellencies,
War has returned to Europe. Russia’s unjustifiable aggression against Ukraine is a flagrant violation of the territorial integrity of a sovereign State. No country is unaffected by this war. The very security of Spain and Western Europe runs through Ukraine as well. Those of us who believe in democracy, human rights and an open, rules-based, international order as all of us have do must stand together in support of the Ukrainian people. Our thoughts today are with the people and leaders of this brave nation, whose courage and dignity have deeply touched us all. The terrible loss of so many lives and vast destruction we are witnessing is a tragic failure for the World and a huge setback for many urgent matters on the Global Agenda.

In the meantime, our societies continue to face the scourge of terrorism, and to suffer its human and moral consequences, both within and beyond our borders. 

We currently endure an international system that is undergoing a profound transformation, entailing a number of risks that could strike at the very essence of free, plural and democratic societies. 

Cyber and hybrid threats, emerging and new disruptive technologies, space-related challenges, and the serious effects of climate change…, all have a serious impact on security and are already part of our reality in this new, more uncertain, more complex and more dangerous decade.

"...Never before has this Palace embraced and seated such a large number of top World Leaders at a time. This is not the first time −however− these walls and tapestries have witnessed a NATO gathering of this nature. It happened in 1997, also in times of intense change and reshaping…, not only in Europe. Twenty-five years ago, inspired by the legitimate aspirations of a considerable number of Eastern European countries, NATO decided to take the first step towards an enlargement process that would hopefully −and definitely− overcome the Cold War. Well, we cannot ignore the profound symbolism that connects these two historic moments in which Spain and the city of Madrid have welcomed NATO for its annual summit. Tomorrow will be the first day of the Summit on the Alliance’s future. Precisely because it is the Summit on NATO’s future, and it takes place under the backdrop of a war in Europe with pervasive global consequences, this Summit is very much set to go down in history. The Alliance has chosen Spain as the place in which to write its new chapter, destined to help us sail into the future and across these unchartered and uncertain waters. Our hope —our wish— is for it to be a safer and more peaceful future, for all those we represent and for the world at large. A new era may be dawning for NATO, here in Madrid...."

The strategic optimism of 1997 must give way, not to pessimism, but to strategic realism.

The Madrid Summit must stand for the future; it must provide the conviction, the guidance and the necessary instruments for us to adapt to this new strategic reality and to walk with determination towards a future in which our societies can feel safe and live in peace.

Over the next two days, you will debate proposals and adopt decisions in order to equip the Alliance, not only with a strategic guide for the coming decade —the ‘Madrid Strategic Concept’—, but also with an entire set of instruments that will:

- reinforce our deterrence and defence;
- consolidate the strength of our societies;
- enable us to keep our technological edge;
- prepare us for the impact of climate change on security;
- and finally, afford NATO with the appropriate resources that may allow us the level of ambition we aspire. 

Your Excellencies,
Unity has been key to NATO’s success over the course of its history, and today it holds particular value. Its principal and basic feature is the robust ‘transatlantic bond’ between the United States, Canada and Europe. Nowhere will this be more evident than at this Summit. 

The Atlantic Ocean has always been a part of Spain’s identity, culture and history, as well as of its international profile as a nation. Together with the present geostrategic and security contexts, and our democratic affinity, this legacy also helps to explain why we feel so strongly about the importance of upholding the many virtues of a transatlantic bond; the seeds of which were actually planted more than 500 years ago. That was when Spain first made contact with the American continent and when the idea of fraternal unity between the two shores of the Atlantic first began to take shape, an idea that the Allies continue to defend today. 

Your Excellencies,
The magnitude of the challenges we are facing demands that we extend this unity to an entire series of strategic partners with whom we share values, principles, and goals. In this regard, we are especially glad that the President of the European Commission has joined us —the President of the European Council will do so tomorrow—. We are also very pleased to see with us here in Madrid, the President of Finland, the PM of Sweden and the PM of Georgia. 

There could be no clearer indication of the global vision adopted by the Alliance ─one in which Spain has played a part for more than 5 centuries─ than the participation of 4 countries that are geographically distant from Europe, but extraordinarily close in terms of values and principles: Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan and New Zealand. This is their first NATO Summit. Please accept our warmest welcome. 

Your Excellencies,
On 30 May 2022, we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of Spain’s accession to NATO, because it was in 1982 that the Alliance welcomed a country that combined robust Atlantic and Mediterranean dimensions, together with deep-rooted European convictions. A country that looked —and looks— to the north and the south, the east and the west. A country that has honoured its responsibilities throughout these 40 years; that has not only contributed military might to the Alliance but has also contributed the might of its history, the might of its society’s commitment and the might of its strategic vision. 

On June 10th 1982, the Spanish Government of was represented at a NATO Summit for the very first time. In his speech, President Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo stated, “Spain will be a loyal and active member of the Alliance and will contribute to it with all the drive of a people which has just recovered its freedoms and wishes to preserve them in the peace and justice of the international community”.

Today, 40 years later, these words have particular resonance. I am therefore proud to declare that Spain continues to be a loyal member of NATO and continues to offer and dedicate the drive of a nation, committed to defend and promote the most fundamental conquests of our societies: democracy, individual freedoms, human rights and the rule of law. 

Your Excellencies,
Tomorrow will be the first day of the Summit on the Alliance’s future. Precisely because it is the Summit on NATO’s future, and it takes place under the backdrop of a war in Europe with pervasive global consequences, this Summit is very much set to go down in history.

The Alliance has chosen Spain as the place in which to write its new chapter, destined to help us sail into the future and across these unchartered and uncertain waters. Our hope —our wish— is for it to be a safer and more peaceful future, for all those we represent and for the world at large. A new era may be dawning for NATO, here in Madrid.

Thank you very much.

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