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Palabras de S.M. el Rey en la inauguración de la XIV reunión de Ministros de Asuntos Exteriores del Foro de Diálogo ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting)

Palacio Real de El Pardo, 16.12.2019

Good morning and welcome to this El Pardo Royal Palace, to Madrid and to Spain. Allow me a few words en Spanish.

Quiero darles, antes de nada, la más cordial bienvenida a Madrid con ocasión de la celebración de esta decimocuarta Reunión de Ministros de Asuntos Exteriores del Proceso ASEM, que España acoge con una gran satisfacción y con el mayor sentido de responsabilidad.

I will now continue in english.

Our offer to host this Asia-Europe meeting stems from Spain’s unquestionable openness towards the rest of the world, and reflects, in turn, the plural, modern and diverse nature of our society. It is proof of Spain’s unequivocal commitment to effective and proactive multilateralism in global governance; as we have recently showcased at COP-25 (2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference) which was, as you know held in Madrid after an exceptional offer to the UN and to the Chilean Presidency.

By hosting this ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting, Spain also wishes to demonstrate and renew its commitment to Asia (we go a long way back in history), also as part of our universal outlook. When the Spanish ships arrived at the coasts of what today we know as the Americas, the original goal was ─in fact─ to reach Asia faster, sailing the westerly and unchartered waters. Only a few years later, our determination to bring the continents closer together led us to complete the first around-the-world voyage (circumnavigation), which began on a 20th of September 500 years ago, led by F.Magellan and finished three years later commanded by J.S. Elcano. Later, in 1564, a Spanish friar and sailor, Andrés de Urdaneta, discovered a return route across the Pacific. This new navigational breakthrough gave rise to the Manila Galleon Trade Route and, in a broader sense, to what was often called the Ruta de la Plata ─the Silver Route. It linked the Philippines, China, Spanish America and Spain and thus created the first global trade route in history, which for 242 years connected Asia to the Americas and to Europe.

ASEM is one of the most prestigious and consolidated international dialogue processes, and one with the largest number of participating States. Due to its open, informal and ever evolving nature, this Asia-Europe Meeting is an ideal framework to discuss and advance new ideas or proposals at a crucial moment in history. A time that is characterized by major regional and global challenges, by the rapid transformation of technological paradigms, with the launching of the 4th industrial revolution and the multiplication connectivity.

All peoples and every country should be concerned and involved; none should hide in isolation and think that one can do well if disengaged, or by taking an inward-looking approach to present risks and challenges that ─like migrations, climate change, financial shocks, criminality…─ do not respect or halt at any border.

"...Today’s ministerial meeting will address global challenges such as climate change, the 2030 Agenda, marine debris (sea pollution) and micro-plastics, in addition to regional and international issues affecting international security, such as counterterrorism, maritime security and cybersecurity. I find it is likewise important highlight that you will also address the key issue of building sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia The ASEM Process has spearheaded discussion on the meaning and scope of the very concept of connectivity —with has such a profound effect on our societies— as a forward-looking commitment. We Europeans —Spaniards, in particular— know from our own experience the virtues of connectivity, a core concept of what is the most successful project of construction and integration to date: the European Union..."

With this ministerial meeting, which brings us together under the theme “Asia and Europe: Together for Effective Multilateralism”, we wish to convey the unity and leadership of a group as large and diverse as ASEM in its support for multilateralism and the rules-based international order. This is what we have come here to do, and this is what we wish to show to the citizens of Asia and of Europe and to the rest of the world today.

In a context in which challenges are global, problems can only be truly solved at the international level, and with the multilateralism that we are championing today.

The 2030 Agenda and its SDGs, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, are proof that multilateralism is still an effective instrument, contributing to peace, security and prosperity, and providing solutions to global challenges.

The United Nations, which plays a central role, must operate in an agile, effective and transparent manner, seeking innovative solutions to ever changing situations, and paying attention to the aspirations and needs of citizens —including the most vulnerable— leaving no one behind, and placing human dignity at the centre of political action.

In this regard, it is the Spanish Government’s view that effective, transparent and inclusive multilateralism must blend-in the gender perspective, because we cannot achieve full and sustainable human development if we deny more than half of the world’s population proper rights and opportunities. Women’s participation as agents for peace in all stages of conflicts is, moreover, key to conflict prevention and resolution and to building lasting peace.

Today’s ministerial meeting will address global challenges such as climate change, the 2030 Agenda, marine debris (sea pollution) and micro-plastics, in addition to regional and international issues affecting international security, such as counterterrorism, maritime security and cybersecurity. I find it is likewise important highlight that you will also address the key issue of building sustainable connectivity between Europe and Asia.

The ASEM Process has spearheaded discussion on the meaning and scope of the very concept of connectivity —with has such a profound effect on our societies— as a forward-looking commitment.

We Europeans —Spaniards, in particular— know from our own experience the virtues of connectivity, a core concept of what is the most successful project of construction and integration to date: the European Union.

I would like to conclude these words by mentioning the parallel activities that have taken place in Madrid these past few days on the sidelines of this ASEM meeting. Like the cultural festival, the journalists’ seminar, and the Model ASEM: a conference of 150 young people from all of our countries, which shows us, once again, that our young people have become leading actors in international relations who demand —and deserve— all of our attention. I would like to thank them —most especially— for coming to Madrid, as well as for their important work and their firm commitment to the goal that has brought us all here today.

Thank you very much. I wish you all great success and all the best for the coming New Year 2020. And for those concerned… Merry Christmas!

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