On October 12th Spaniards commemorate the birth of the modern Spanish State in 1492 and celebrate their common heritage with their brothers and sisters of Latin America. However, the origins of Spain’s bonds with Romania, the main representative of Latin culture at the other end of Europe, lie long before that: this year we commemorate the 1,900 anniversary of the death of Trajan, the Roman Emperor born in Spain who brought Latinity to Dacia.
In more recent times, an ever more intense bilateral relation has flourished in all fields between Spain and Romania. We are strategic partners since 2013. In the last few months, bilateral dialogue has intensified, with several visits to Spain by Romanian Ministers – European Affairs, Diaspora, Education, Tourism, Business Environment – as well as the visits to Bucharest of the Spanish Minister for Justice and the Political Director of the Spanish MFA. Soon the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of Spain is also expected to visit Romania to enhance our bilateral dialogue and prepare the convening of an intergovernmental summit next year in Bucharest.
Spain and Romania, bound to become the 4th and 6th member states respectively of the European Union after Brexit, share a common commitment to deepen European integration. Spain remains a staunch backer of Romania’s aspiration to join Schengen, and appreciates the efforts it has deployed to consolidate the independence of the judiciary and fight corruption, with a view to making this progress sustainable and irreversible. Romania can count on Spain’s support to make its EU Presidency in 2019 a success for the whole Union.
Spain, a committed ally within NATO, has contributed to the security of Romania by providing staff for the new structures of the Alliance in Romanian territory and by sending troops and ships to take part in land manoeuvers and naval exercises in the Black Sea.
A common security challenge is the threat of international terrorism. Here, Romania and Spain stand on the same ground. I warmly thank the Authorities and the people of Romania for their massive show of solidarity and support in the aftermath of the heinous terrorist attacks of Barcelona and Cambrils.
Regarding trade, bilateral exchanges reached in 2016 a new high of € 3.7 billion, and look now set to break that record again in 2017. Spanish companies contribute to the development of Romania, as a part of major projects of transport infrastructure, energy, water and sanitation, just to mention a few. Moreover, the Spanish business community is soon about to undergo a major institutional upgrade when the Association of Spanish Companies in Romania (ASEMER) metamorphoses into the first Official Chamber of Commerce of Spain in Romania.
The projection of the Spanish language and culture in Romania is as intense as ever. The Instituto Cervantes of Bucharest and ten bilingual sections of the Spanish Ministry of Education in high schools all over Romania provide thousands of students the possibility to gain a better understanding of a language shared by over 560 million people. Through their exhibitions and events, the Embassy and the Instituto Cervantes have shown the Romanian public a fine selection of what Spain has to offer in terms of literature, music, theatre, architecture or street art. The mural of street artist Okuda San Miguel on 8 Bd. Dimitrie Cantemir, dedicated to the Spanish diplomats that saved the lives of over a hundred citizens of Jewish origin during World War II in Bucharest, is an excellent example of what modern Spanish creativity can achieve.
Co-operation in other fields, such as tourism, combatting violence against women or administration reform, has resumed at a great pace, with a variety of events and visits.
But all these ties have their foundation on one main factor: since the late 1990s over one million Romanians have settled in Spain – more than all Latin American residents put together –, contributing to the dynamism and prosperity of our society. In these troubled times when migration is often viewed as a threat, this community is a true example of how genuine integration can be mutually beneficial.
Because after four decades of democratic consolidation, Spanish society is open and welcomes people of all origins, races and creeds. Our country, with a history marked by plurality, accepts difference as a basic characteristic of any modern society. And it accepts the expression of all political ideas, as long as the Constitution and the laws that we have given ourselves are respected.
At these times of uncertainty, I would like to vindicate the unity of Spain and the solidity of our constitutional framework, in which we can all find our place and that we have to respect if we want to coexist. And I thank all the friends of Spain, like Romania and other European partners, who have felt this challenge as their own and have lent us their support. I assure them that Spain will overcome these difficulties, like we have done in the past.
Much remains to be done between Romania and Spain. New possibilities of cooperation arise every day. Yet our relations that have developed over the last few years are testament to the potential of working together in and for a united Europe, in the pursuit of the peace, the welfare and the prosperity that both our peoples deserve. Traiască prietenia dintre Spania şi România!