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Palabras de Su Alteza Real el Príncipe de Asturias en el acto de presentación de la Cátedra Príncipe de Asturias, en la Universidad de Georgetown

Estados Unidos(Washington), 23.03.1999

F

ather O'Donovan, Ministro, Ambassadors, Sr. Consejero Delegado de Endesa, President of G.U.

I cannot express well enough the great feelings and wonderful memories that being here today in Georgetown University brings to me. The somewhat nostalgic experience of visiting one's Alma Mater is only over-powered by the excitement of something new, something that lets us rejoice by contributing in any way to enrich what this school has to offer its students.

As a graduate,I will allways be very grateful to The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service for three main reasons: I) The high standard and depth of its teachings, that serve me so well in my work, in the commitment to serve my country. II) The quality and human touch of its faculty. III) And lastly but possibly most important, the true friendships I found here regardless of nationality, religion or culture (some of which are here with us).

After receiving all of that, as a student, you can well imagine what a great pleasure it gives me now to see my name permanently linked to the school in such an honorable way.

Today, "The Prince of Asturias Distinguished Visiting Professorship" has become an integral part of Georgetown University. It represents a joint effort and a shared commitment and is the end result of a process in which the University, the Spanish Administration and the "Empresa Nacional de Electricidad" ENDESA, have worked together to give form and substance to a common vision: as the Bible tells us "wisdom is the principal thing, therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting, get understanding" (Proverbs 4:7).

Georgetown's tradition of academic excellence, together with its recognition of the importance international affairs has as a vital component of higher education, have made it an exceptional meeting point of cultures, a fount of knowledge and a forum of enlightened discussion. This plurality of interests, this permanent search for intercultural understanding, make Georgetown University and its Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service so unique. Let me give you a bit of a background to this chair.

Although Spain has played a significant role in the history of the United States, this fact is not as well known as it could or should be. It is heartening to see however that today's America looks more and more into the rich tapestry of its past to better understand its present multicultural reality. It now views history not as a clash or a competition between rival cultures,  but as the result of their interaction and has become increasingly aware of their importance in ensureing a better future.

We in Spain have also experienced the resurgence of our rich and diverse cultural and socio political realities right from the outstart of our democratic process and the ennactment of the 1978 Constitution. That renowned success story, our transition to democratic rule -during the second half of the seventies - has since attracted schollars world wide and especially from many universities in this country (As professor Mujal León knows very well).

But Spain has many more experiences to offer academics, as well as political and economic decision makers; experiences in the present domestic political and socioeconomic process,in the present foreign policy field, or in both of these taken from a historical perspective . Surelly this professorship will do its share; but more so, it can serve as a key to success in this endeavour, because of the opportunities it carries and the potential it holds to become an effective provider of better understanding and greater knowledge of what Spain does and signifies in world affairs, both from the Government and private sector points of view; of how they serve our people and national interests, and how that helps -if so- the international community (system) with regard to any issue or problem.

Today we are very heavily involved in world affairs, to degree that some may feel our international commitments are  disproportionately high for a nation of our size. This perception is by no means correct, but  nevertheless it clearly reflects the enormous change me have undergone in the last 20 years. All we have done really is to recover our weight in the world scale, the positon we had lost for so many years, the role we had failed to accomplish.

- To give you an idea allow me to expand just a little bit:

In Europe after Spain's integration in the EEC (back in 1986) and our successful convergence to Economic and Monetary Union we remain neither a big player nor a small one, therefore we are always engaged in -and share the interests of- both camps; but in any case we finally  are "a player" and thusly try to contribute loyally to European governance.

Our location on the periphery of the Union, the western gateway to the Mediterranean,and our complex and lengthy History define us as the closest european nation to North Africa, to the Magreb; as well as close in culture, traditions, and spirit to them and to all parties in the Middle East. It was therefore no  coincidence that Spain took the lead in developing a Mediterranean agenda for the EU -"The Euromed Conference"- that effectively took-off in Barcelona on November of 1995. Nor is it surprising that we have an important involvement in the M.E. peace process, which had its staged "lift-off" in the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference. You see, we believe that extending security and development, as a European partner, must be a constant drive in all our foreign actions, but more so in those directed to our surroundings, to our neighbourhood.

Of course 500 yrs of History also link us deeply with the New World,over on this side of the Altantic. As a result -and I say this without disregarding all the rich particularities found through out the Continent- the fact is, we do share a comon culture and language; and  only  that is such an incredibly fertile soil to grow solid, enduring and fruitful relations among nations and peoples that we just cannot overlook or ignore its importance. After years of doing so, our democratic process and rapid economic recovery provided us with the means and the will to engage Latin America like brothers who finally come together (to work as partners) putting behind  the old quarries and sheer neglect that once ruled over our relationship. Today,in political, economic and cultural terms we can safely say that Spain plays a major role in Latin America,in all the individual countries and in their regional developments as well. It is clear that our objective in this sense is to work more profoundly on this reality not only on our own, but also by steering the "European boat" across the Atlantic; yes, for our mutual benefit, but also to help us all in our comitment to a free and more just world.

These examples I have mentioned to you in a somewhat telegraphic way may give us the impression that we are asking too much (too soon) of a single Chair. I know it can only achieve so much but likewise I am convinced this is just a start -a good one, I may add- and a very clear sign of things to come.

The Spanish Government is keenly aware of the importance that academic and educational exchanges have in encouraging a better understanding between our two cultures, between our past and present realities and our views or approaches to World Order. That is the reason behind the growing network of agreements, 33 of which have been signed by our Ministry of Education and Culture with universities, research centers and educational boards in 19 States. And it is also the reason for the unequivocal support that the Ministry has offered to the creation of this Visiting Professorship.

But the common goal of Georgetown and The Ministry would remain rethorical had it not been for ENDESA's sharing of the same vision, and its willingness to back it with great generosity. Allow me to join you all in expressing my deepest gratitude to them for making this professorship become a reality. In this, ENDESA has acted undoubtedly because it is convinced that a better awareness of what Spain has been, is and will be, with respect to the United States and the world, will not only enrich and benefit us all, but will also give greater depth to and allow a better perception of Spanish industry today. It stems from the recognition of the fact that internationalization of world markets and globalization of national economies do not conform a separate reality, but rather need to be tempered by greater understanding and mutual respect among nations. In this, knowledge, through education, is fundamental; and thankfully, more and more companies are shouldering their responsability in this endeavour. It is a sound investment and a wise one.

Plato once said that the direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life. I had the privilege of learning about the United States and its foreign Policy at this University. I learnt, among many other things, that tradition, as you were wont to say, Father President, quoting Eliot, "cannot be inherited", but rather must be obtained by "great labour". We have before us today the first fruits of this great labour. Let us continue to work together to multiply and increase them in the future, in the 3rd. Millenium.

Itzuli Hitzaldiak atalera
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