Today Spaniards celebrate their solid ties to their brothers and sisters in Latin America. A human bond that dates back centuries and allows our nations to face the future together, no matter the political ups and downs, based on a common culture and language.
Spain and Romania also share increasing human ties. The Romanian community, the largest foreign community in our country and the second largest Romanian community abroad, is an example of integration and contributes to the dynamism of our society and our economy.
It is on the solid ground provided by these human contacts that the bilateral relations between our two countries have developed extraordinarily. This past year has been a shining example of this. Spain was amongst the first countries that His Excellency President Klaus Iohannis visited after taking office. His meetings with His Majesty King Felipe and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy provided a chance to take note of the excellent state of our bilateral relations.
Spain and Romania, partners in the European Union and allies in NATO, face together significant challenges. Spain, who will lead in 2016 the NATO Spearhead Force, will contribute to the new structures of the Alliance on Romanian soil, as a tribute to the crucial role that Romania plays in preserving security in the region.
Enthusiastically, yet fully aware of the challenges involved, both countries are promoting the idea of creating a new International Court on Terrorism, to better fight this scourge that affects us all. Bilateral Police and Justice co-operation against other common threats like organised crime and human trafficking remains as intense as ever.
As His Majesty King Felipe confirmed during President Iohannis’ visit to Madrid, Spain firmly supports Romania’s aspiration to join Schengen, as a fair acknowledgement of the sustained and coherent efforts it has made in order to protect the external borders of the European Union. Spain also recognises the significant progress made in consolidating the Rule of Law, and warmly encourages Romania to keep this trend.
Last year saw another record in our bilateral trade, with exchanges totalling over EUR 2.74 bn. This year they seem to be growing at an even higher pace. Spanish investment in Romania also picked up last year, reaching once again the levels registered prior to the economic crisis. These are clear symptoms of the recovery of our economies, both with growth rates among the highest in the EU. I thank the Romanian Authorities for their continuous trust in our companies, as proved by the increase in 2015 of the number of public contracts awarded to Spanish businesses.
Last but not least, the Cervantes Institute, that is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Romania, is still the flagship of the Spanish language and culture. Along with the bilingual sections supported by the Spanish Ministry of Education in ten high schools spread all over Romania, they tend to the needs of a growing thirst for Spanish, a language now shared by almost 560 million people worldwide.
The Spanish-Romanian partnership is now as strong and dynamic as ever. We can be confident that next year, on the occasion of the 135 anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, we will have many things to celebrate.
Traiască prietenia dintre Spania şi România!