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Palabras de Su Majestad el Rey al recibir la Medalla de las Cuatro Libertades de la Fundación Roosevelt

Holanda(Middelburg), 10.05.1996

L

et my first words be of sincere and heartfelt thanks to the Roosevelt Foundation for the distinction that I have just received, and to the people of Zeeland for the warm hospitality that you are offering us today.

I am convinced that this prize reflects your intention to personalise and symbolise recognition for the effort made by Spaniards over the past twenty years to achieve and to consolidate a system of co-existence based on freedom, justice and democracy.

When we set out on that venture we knew that only deep democratic convictions and a constant spirit of solidarity could help us to overcome the many obstacles that would undoubtedly arise.

Nobody at that time guaranteed the final result nor was able to assure us that we would be exempt from threats or dangers. But we knew that with courage and generosity we would be able to fulfil goals that historically had been denied to us. Our ¡immortal Cervantes showed us the way in a passage from Don Quijote "Valor that is not founded on prudence is called temerity".

The Crown, consistent with its rightful responsability at that singular historic time, participated in the transformation of Spain, in accordance with the requirements of a modern, European society, geared towards progress.

Today, Spaniards freely and voluntarily share the destiny of millions of free citizens of Europe.

We certainly cannot be satisfied with what has so far been achieved, but must remain on guard and sustain our efforts towards ever-greater levels of freedom, will-being and progress. To this end, we benefit from the accumulated experience of these years when we have built up a democratic system, based on the 1978 Constitution that we Spaniards freely adopted.

Freedom, like peace, is cultivated and provides enrichment day by day, with small and large contributions, with the normal working of the democratic institutions and with constant education at school and at the workplace.

We Europeans know from our own experience the tragic consequences of forgetting the spirit of freedom, and of an authoritarian imposition of specific ideologies.

Therefore, perhaps, we feel greater responsability for giving a renewed example of tolerance and solidarity. From that wish of "never again war between us" arose the solid framework of today's European Union.

And this message is as valid today as it was forty years ago. Peoples and nations must accept history with serenity and from it extract the necessary drive towards progress to project them safely into the future.

The distance in time from what was a European tragedy cannot allow us to relax our spirits or lead us to seek solutions that accentuate egoism or self sufficiency. We have very recently experienced, in a European scenario, the cruelty of an armed conflict fed by ethnic and religious intolerance.

We need to add depth to the values that have been at the root of the European project since its origins. A society founded on the principies of democracy and freedom is better placed to guarantee peace and well-being than a society in which the rules of co existence are imposed by a few on its other citizens.

The Europe of economic and political integration, of solidarity and progress in common is the true alternative for our societies, in order never again to succumb to the temptation of sacrificing the freedom of many for the pride of a few. Today we must bar the way to those who, by means of radicalism, fanaticism or violence, attempt to exclude, impose, segregate or destroy someone or something on the pretext of racist ideologies or xenophobic activities.

In the European area that we share there ¡s space enough for ah those who, in good faith and peacefully, wish to contribute with their efforts to the betterment of our peoples.

Nothing of what I say can sound strange in this country, which has always been characterised by a deep love for Liberty and by ¡its affectionate welcome for those who have common here, from very different places, in search of work or freedom.

Therefore, it gives me great pleasure to see two great countries, the United States and the Netherlands, which have been and continue to be defenders of liberty, linked together through this Roosevelt Foundation Prize. It is no coincidence, but rather the mutual influence of families and lineage that shared the same spirit on both sides of the Atlantic. It is the logical consequence of common origins and of sentiments deeply rooted in the individual and collective conscience of the Dutch nation and American society.

I shall conclude by reiterating my gratitude and thanks to the Roosevelt Foundation. I know that a new link will now unite us: that of steem for freedom, something that is only properly appreciated when it is lost.

Thank you very much.

Itzuli Hitzaldiak atalera
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