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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en la entrega de la Gold Medal of the Spanish Institute

New York, 28.11.2000

A

llow me first to thank you Dr. Aleu for your kind and gracious remarks.

I am delighted to be here with you this evening to receive the Gold Medal of The Spanish Institute. It is an honour I accept with great appreciation and pleasure in recognition of the Institute?s wonderful work, and in gratitude to the Board and Committee members, as represented by their Chairman, Fernando Aleu, for their leadership, dedication and generosity.

Since its foundation almost fifty years ago, The Spanish Institute has worked relentlessly to build and strengthen the ties between Spain, the Spanish-speaking world and the United States. It has done so, and continues to do so, through a variety of educational, cultural and public affairs programs, in this city of New York, the most cosmopolitan metropolis on Earth, where cultures mix, races blend and peoples learn not only from the myriad opportunities the five boroughs have to offer, but also from the daily lessons in living together that its citizens provide.

As evidenced in the quality and versatility of its programs, The Institute is keenly aware of the enormous scholarly and cultural vitality of Spain, without any doubt, one of the great achievements of my country in the last 25 years. The Institute has invited many established scholars and writers from Spain, Latin America and the United States, as well as highly reputed young professionals from a myriad of fields to participate in colloquia and lectures on political, economic, scientific, literary and artistic topics. These meetings both enhance the knowledge of Spain and Latin America in New York and provide a platform for diverse people to meet and exchange ideas.

This exchange of ideas is nowadays even more essential than it was before the latest round of globalization, a process that began many centuries ago, as any student of history will acknowledge. You have only to recall the ?price revolution? in Europe after Spain?s first encounter with America, more than 500 years ago, to obtain a perfect example of how globalization has been at work from time immemorial. Even so far back as when the first tribes interacted among each other at the dawn of civilization.

What has been different in the last few years is the acceleration we are experiencing in the path towards one world, or ?one village? as some call it, where events on one side of the planet are instantly known by people thousands of miles away and have sometimes immediate consequences for the lives of just about every inhabitant of the globe.

The best known example of this trend is, of course, the instant communications network provided by the internet, but there are other ways of gathering people from all walks of life and all geographic locations. One of them, at work for many centuries, has been the spread and sharing of works of Art and the introduction of new artistic trends across borders from one country to another, or even from one continent to another. Today, we therefore see the fusion of artistic elements born in different parts of the world and resulting in an explosion of new creativeness.

The exhibitions held in The Institute?s galleries bring to New York paintings by some of the finest Spanish masters, as well as group exhibitions of young, up-and-coming artists, therefore contributing to the universal diffusion of art that I have just talked about. Also, the music recitals lend exposure to many talented young performers providing them with a venue from which to perform not only contemporary works, but also well-recognized traditional ones, serving as a spiritual link between our contemporary technological societies and the societies in which our ancestors lived, and in this way contributing to the important inheritance which is the collective memory of mankind.

But, on the other hand, one of the traditional barriers to globalization and to the knowledge and understanding of our neighbours has always been language. The Spanish Institute, through its language program, has contributed not only to a better understanding between both sides of the Atlantic, but also to the expansion within the United States of what has come to be the second language of this great country, a heritage of more than 30 million of its inhabitants, many of them descendents of the people who landed on this continent ever since Spain/Europe and the New World had their first encounter five centuries ago.

And I would like here to mention one of the themes I insisted upon last month, during my visit to the wonderful state of New Mexico. As I said then: ?there is no contradiction between our European and American identities; on the contrary, the one reinforces and enhances the other in a special symbiotic relationship that bares great opportunities for the future and has already been very fruitful for the past 20 years?. During this time Spain, as a member of the E.U., has not detracted an inch from the spirit of the Americas that our country bares. It is simply that Spain cannot be explained without America and the Americas (there are thirty of them at least) cannot be explained without their Spanish component. The U.S. is a perfect example of this Spanish cultural influence, recognized for many years by scholars and academics, but also by the political representatives of the people, as I vividly experienced in my recent stay in New Mexico, when I had the great pleasure of being a guest of honour at the inauguration of the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. (I believe, the first one of this nature to me the light in the United States)

But going back to the language programs provided by the Institute, through the thousands of people have learned today a universal language (number two in world ranking); but what is more important is that with that knowledge they have reached a greater understanding of our culture and therefore have become closer partners and friends, enhancing the symbiotic relationship between both sides of the Atlantic.

This process, the deepening of the relations between my country and the United States -that in fact go further back than the founding of the American Republic- has been a priority for Spain in the last few decades and today it is reinforced by the wish of all Spaniards who -I am proud to say- have in the last twenty five years provided the world with an outstanding example of political, social and economic transformation, to have their nation ?our nation- occupy a space in the international system that adequately reflects those transformations and our will to continue being a strong, loyal and active partner of the international community.

The Spanish Institute, as an American ?non-profit? institution, is a significant organization for Spain, and has contributed immensely to making the American public aware of Spain?s new realities, a modern country that is doing its full share to provide its citizens and everyone outside its borders with an opportunity to advance in what we could call, paraphrasing the founding fathers, the pursuit of happiness.

I would like to thank all of you who support the Institute, for your enthusiasm towards both Spain and the Spanish-speaking world. I encourage you to continue to do so with great vitality. Thank you for presenting me with your wonderful Gold Medal as we genuinely transit into the New Millenium.

Thank you so very much and enjoy the rest of this wonderful evening.

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