On October 12th, Spain celebrates its National Day. It provides a good opportunity to review bilateral relations between Spain and Romania, which are in excellent shape.
But before going any deeper into that subject, let me mention that this year, 2019, we are also very proud to mark a major event which took place 500 years ago and which had a crucial impact on the History of mankind. I am talking about the first circumnavigation of the Globe. Under the sponsorship, both political and financial, of the Spanish Monarchy, 500 years ago a group of 5 vessels and 250 men left Seville in Southern Spain and sailed westward through the Atlantic Ocean searching for a westbound maritime route to reach the islands of the species, the Moluccas Islands. Spain was trying to find, for the first time ever, a passage from the Atlantic into the Pacific.
The expedition was led by a remarkable couple of seamen, a very experienced commander, Ferdinand Magellan – of Portuguese origin – and an outstanding Spanish navigator, Juan Sebastian Elcano. Unfortunately Magellan was killed in battle in the Philippines when the expedition had already successfully sailed through the Strait of his name. They had found the passage connecting the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific, or South Sea. After Magellan’s death, Spanish commander Juan Sebastian Elcano took over and continued this incredible journey to complete, for the first time in History, the circumnavigation of the Globe. Three years later, in 1522, Elcano managed to come back home to Spain with just one ship, the “Victoria”, and 18 men. The journey provided for the first time in History final and empirical proof that the Globe was round and that it could be circumnavigated.
This historic achievement in seamanship, the first circumnavigation of the World, represented a giant step forward for mankind, widening knowledge and opening endless new opportunities for communications and trade exchanges at global level, starting, so to speak, the process we today know as globalization. Let me quote a most respected and admired British scholar and philosopher, Adam Smith, who in 1776 published his famous book “The wealth of Nations”. This is what he wrote about this Spanish achievement: “The two defining events for the world economy were linked to the sea: to sail around the Cape of Good Hope, and to cross the Magellan Strait reaching the Moluccas in the Pacific”. And he added: “Spaniards and Portuguese reached in the XVI century the frontiers of human knowledge, and they were masters in high seas navigation for the rest of us”, end of quote.
But let me come back to Romania and to the XXI century. I wish to congratulate once again and thank the Romanian government for its efficient performance during the past Presidency of the Council of the European Union. We need not only more Europe, but – above all – a better Europe, a Europe which is appealing for our citizens. Many of the initiatives developed and pursued during the Romanian Presidency pointed exactly in that direction. There are challenges ahead, uncertainties, but we need to stay the course, have faith in our European project and work hard to advance it. The European integration process has come up against critical moments, but it has always overcome those crises and it has emerged even stronger. If we remain committed to our common values, this time it will not be any different.
The Spanish National Day provides an excellent opportunity to celebrate the very deep and strong bilateral relations between Spain and Romania, built on very solid foundations and on shared interests. Both at NATO, EU or the UN, we work closely together and regularly support each other. In terms of common security, Spain very much appreciates the central role Romania plays in maintaining peace and stability, as a NATO member, in the Balkans and in the wider Black Sea region. In this sense, we are proud of Spain’s contribution to NATO structures in Romania, as it represents an additional opportunity for Spanish and Romanian Armed Forces to come closer together and cooperate to the benefit of both sides.
As far as the economy is concerned, bilateral trade has been steadily growing for years, there is a large number of Spanish companies successfully operating in many different sectors of the Romanian economy (banking, agriculture, real state, automotive industry, infrastructure, retail and fashion, tourism…), and Spain is within the top ten foreign investors in this country.
While politics and economics matter, Spain also attaches great importance to its cultural and human links with Romania. Both our languages, Spanish and Romanian, belong to one of the most refined language families, classic Latin, the language of the Roman Empire. Dacia was incorporated as a province to the Roman Empire by Emperor Trajan, born in Seville, Spain, at that time the Roman province of Hispania. Although geographically situated at different corners of Europe, Spanish and Romanian people feel very close to each other. Spain hosts a large Romanian community, hardworking people who have been well received by Spanish authorities and people alike. We have never looked at this large Romanian community as foreigners, but as European citizens sharing with us a common destiny in the European Union.
We are satisfied that the Spanish language, spoken by some 600 million people in different continents around the world, is increasingly popular among Romanian people. In fact, there are already ten bilingual Spanish – Romanian secondary schools all across Romania with teachers provided by the Spanish Ministry of Education. The Cervantes Institute in Bucharest hosts more than 2.000 students and has a very active, wide – ranging culture agenda, including films, lectures, exhibitions, concerts, debates and cultural events. The Embassy of Spain is also making efforts to reach out to the rest of the country, including key cities such as Cluj – Napoca, Timisoara and Constanza, with the valuable cooperation of their local authorities and cultural institutions.
Therefore, there are many reasons to congratulate ourselves for the level and for the quality of bilateral relations between Spain and Romania. We are doing well but we remain ambitious. We can and we must do even better in coming years. That is my purpose and my goal as Ambassador of Spain.
Traiasca prietenia dintre Spania si Romania !!