SPANISH DIPLOMACY

In UN speech, Spanish king allays concerns over lack of government

Felipe VI tells General Assembly in New York that Spaniards will overcome this difficult moment

Felipe VI greets President Obama at the UN in New York.
Felipe VI greets President Obama at the UN in New York.AP

Speaking to a packed hall at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, King Felipe VI on Tuesday sought to assuage international concerns about Spain’s prolonged lack of government.

The Spanish monarch underscored the nation’s “ability to overcome” difficulties in the past, and said that this attitude will prevail again despite the “complex context” that Spain finds itself in.

King Felipe VI of Spain

“We Spaniards have always overcome hard times,” he told the crowd of dignitaries gathered for the opening of the UN General Assembly’s annual debate.

“All advanced democracies such as ours go through complex situations at some point. But they overcome them through the resilience and cohesiveness of their societies, the strength of their institutions, and the enforcement of their system of liberties,” said the 48-year-old monarch.

To illustrate Spaniards’ resilience, Felipe VI talked about the economic crisis that hit his country particularly hard, although the Spanish economy has since returned to a path of growth.

Spain has been in political deadlock since late December, when an inconclusive election yielded a fragmented parliament, breaking the traditional two-party system. Inability to reach governing deals led to a fresh election in June, with similar results. If no progress is made, Spaniards could be facing a record third election at Christmas.

International projection

Felipe VI also defined Spain as “one of the countries that has most intensely contributed to the course of History,” and mentioned the 400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, to underscore the author’s civic legacy: the need for peaceful coexistence.

“When we live together in a democratic framework that safeguards our hard-won rights and freedoms and respects our diversity, that is when we give the best of ourselves, and when we best contribute to the peace, security and prosperity of the international community. And we will continue to do so.”

Later on Tuesday, the Spanish monarchs attended an event hosted by US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Gibraltar

Felipe VI also had a few words about Gibraltar, the disputed British overseas territory located on the Iberian peninsula.

"As Spain has always done in this forum, I cannot fail to remind you that Gibraltar is the only existing colony on European territory. In observance of a UN mandate, I urge the United Kingdom to end this anachronism with an agreed solution between both our countries that will restore Spain's territorial integrity and be beneficial for the population of the colony and of Campo de Gibraltar".

English version by Susana Urra.

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