The sad news of the death of President Nelson Mandela has brought to mind his immense personal sacrifice, truly heroic, when he faced with such strength and fortitude his unjust imprisonment for twenty-seven years. At the same time it reminds me of the universal joy at his release and of the admiration we all felt for the wisdom with which he drove South Africa towards reconciliation and democracy.
Today, true to the feeling of the Spanish people, I want to convey our deepest condolences to the Government of South Africa, to the people of South Africa, to whom we are united by bonds of friendship, and to his family.
I remember when he first came to Spain in 1992 to collect, along with President De Klerk, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation, the year before they also received together the Nobel Peace Prize. I also do not forget the hospitality and affection he gave us during our state visit to his beloved country, in 1999.
Whether as a an engaged political leader or as a statesman, Nelson Mandela always transmitted, in addition to a deep humanity, a genuine desire and determination to transform South Africa into a country successful in redressing and overcoming the injustices of the past, a country that embraces all its citizens without distinction, many of them young people full of legitimate hope for a future of freedom and equality.
His life, in short, has been an example of integrity and greatness in the service of others. His sacrifices, his convictions, his actions and decisions shape the legacy he leaves his countrymen and all men and women in the world who believe and fight for a better future.
Rest in peace, he who brought peace to South Africa, and to whom we owe so much gratitude.