Spain’s new king made his first speech before the United Nations on Wednesday – nearly 30 years after his father, King Juan Carlos, first appeared in the same chamber in 1986. Addressing delegates at the UN’s 69th General Assembly, Felipe VI spoke of a Spain that has “set up a social and democratic state that protects the diversity of all its citizens and regions,” calling the country an “example for many in the world.”
The speech came just five days after the Catalan parliament, led by regional premier Artur Mas, approved a law that will pave the way for a referendum on independence from Spain, a vote that the central government fiercely opposes and will fight in the courts if it has to.
The king went on to highlight his country’s economic development, defending Spanish as a global language of understanding, and drawing attention to the role that Spain must play as a bridge between Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and Latin America. He also called on the support of the Assembly in Spain’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2015 and 2016. “Our candidacy is part of our commitment to serve more and better the international community,” he said during his speech.
The king called Spain an “example for many in the world”
He concluded by looking to the future from the past. “Thirty years have passed since the first speech my father made in this Assembly. Today, as then, Spain is looking toward a new time. The international community will be able to continue to count on Spain in the defense of values and interests of humanity in peace; of a United Nations that is more united. More united against fanaticism, intolerance and brutality; more united to fight against poverty, misery and marginalization; more united so that education and healthcare are within the reach of everyone; more united to firmly defend the dignity of all human beings.”
After the session, the king shared a table at an official dinner with US President Barack Obama, Mexican leader Enrique Peña Nieto, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and South Korean President Park Guen-hye, among other dignitaries.