Below is the full text of an address by King Felipe VI of Spain, which was delivered to participants at this year's World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa. You can also watch the Opening Plenary speeches in full here.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to His Majesty King Abdullah and to the World Economic Forum for their kind invitation to participate in this highly relevant and reputed forum. It is truly a great honor to be with you all here today.
His Majesty knows well −and is a great part− of the long, friendly and fruitful relations that bring the kingdom of Spain and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan so close; as close as to consider that our respective royal families are tied by a strong and rewarding familiar bond.
So I feel privileged to be here, beside Your Majesty and Queen Rania, and to address the opening ceremony of this WEF meeting you host, here in the Jordan Valley, by the Dead Sea. Allow me to congratulate you on your leadership in making this –once again– a key moment for the ongoing debates focused on the Middle East and North Africa that take place worldwide.
This great meeting also owes tribute, of course, to the hard and good work of President Schwab’s team in partnership with the KAFD (King Abdullah II Fund for Development), so I’m quite sure of its success.
It is also a great opportunity to accompany all the Heads of state, government, ministers and high representatives of International Organizations that are present, and also to meet many business and civil society leaders from all the region. But allow me to highlight the fact that in this WEF edition for the MENA region, and under the engaging and timely title: “Enabling a Generational Transformation”, we have just had the special opportunity of hearing HRH Prince Hussein Bin Abdullah speak at this morning’s opening ceremony.
Indeed I think we all appreciate the important meaning of young Prince Hussein’s participation, representing the next generation, the one we all need to work for ─and with─ today, to help provide them with greater hope and real opportunities for a better future in the region. Thank you, Your Highness, for your words. And thank you, Your Majesties, for making us witnesses of Crown Prince Hussein’s strong commitment.
One of the constant ambitions of Spanish foreign policy has been to foster the cooperation between Europe and both Middle Eastern and North African countries. My presence here today bears testimony of how much we cherish this Forum as a unique opportunity to advance this cooperation.
In 2011, it was my father, King Juan Carlos, who came and took part in this great Forum, on the Jordanian shores of the Dead Sea. Since then, so many things have indeed changed in our world and especially in this region. We are facing very serious crisis that challenge the very foundations of a world order, that is ─with no doubt─ in need of improvements and transformations, but that is also based on highly valued principles: the sovereignty and independence of states, the respect of human rights and the benefits of free trade and the mobility of people…of persons.
Also in my country, many things have happened. We have overcome the worst of a serious economic crisis. Thanks to the shared efforts of our countrymen and women and of our institutions, the Spanish economy is now growing at a good and solid pace while steadily creating employment. So I am pleased to say that we are now ready and willing to strengthen our cooperation with all our partners in the Middle East, in the quest for a better future for Humanity.
So I am fully convinced, that if we join forces with determination –especially those of us who share this vast world around the Mediterranean, in the west and in the east– and understand our true potential and common stakes, we can finally look ahead with well-founded optimism and honestly say to our youth: yes it is possible and worth the effort, yes there is hope, yes we are taking-on our responsibility, and yes we are doing the best we can.
And Jordan, my dear friends, is clearly setting an example and showing us the way:
First, by behaving with generosity, in hosting such a huge number of refugees, once again, that have been tragically obliged to leave their homes because of war and despair.
Also, by acting with bravery, leading the fight against those whose only argument is terror and represent the common enemy for us all.
And finally, by persevering in its message of peace, dialogue and the pursuit of an inclusive and sustainable development.
Your Majesty, we thank you deeply for continuing this tradition of the Hashemite Monarchy: a tradition of bravery, generosity and tolerance.
Furthermore, Jordan is also an example of constructive engagement with the whole International community. In Spain we know it well: we highly appreciate our strong bilateral ties and our shared determination to enhance our fruitful economic cooperation.
Spanish companies are here to stay, wishing to be part of a bright future for this country. They are, I am pleased to say, already present in Jordan. Certainly in the energy sector, but our companies also have great interest in other areas, such as desalination, water treatment and transport infrastructures.
This Forum provides us with the opportunity to share views and experiences, to work together ─governments, civil society, and the private sector─ to create the economic and social conditions for a wider and stronger shared prosperity.
In our world today, security is a shared need, and we are constantly struggling to find the way to be more effective in providing it. We cannot isolate the threats nor the challenges we face, nor can we deal with them on our own, since they are more pervasive and agile than ever, travel faster and ignore all national or regional boundaries. So, likewise, we should really move ahead and find more powerful and adequate ways of also sharing our prosperity, to cooperate more efficiently in economic and social development. And that, of course, will be the best way to work for our long term greater common security.
And the opportunities are right in front of us. There is clearly a new revolution emerging from information and technological advances, which indeed can drive reforms and creativity.
There is, too, a new generation, well prepared, more open to the world, ready to work hard locally and globally for a better future.
Let us accept the challenge of conceiving the Mediterranean and the larger Middle East region as a space of prosperity. There is certainly still a tough path ahead to tread, a dire need to do it, and of course many obstacles that we should remove: inequalities, ignorance and extremism are some of them. But we are entitled to look further. We owe it to a new generation that will not accept the past as a barrier on their way to the future.
Millions of youngsters are not only dreaming but looking for a way to make their projects come true in a wide range of fields: from renewable energies to education technologies, from bio-medical research to sustainable tourism.
As we meet here, a young man or woman -in Barcelona, in Amman, in Cairo, in Dubai or Casablanca- is thinking on how to build his or her start-up, where to complete his or her post-graduate studies, how to establish his or her small business or to improve his or her professional skills. They cannot wait for all the problems created by previous generations to be solved.
One thing we know: the crucial role of education. It is clear that youth unemployment and lack of opportunities fuel frustration and anger. Finding the right policies to foster youth empowerment is not a simple task. This is why this Forum, widely recognized as a hub for sharing ideas and best practices, can be so useful.
Schools, universities and research institutions should unleash the potential of our people. They need to be at the core of our policy-making in order for us to extend the limits of what we can achieve. International cooperation to favor student mobility between our countries is also essential. Development of effective policies in this area will not only increase the employability of young people but will also create a stronger social contract for all.
The future is embodied in these young boys and girls I have been referring to. Every time two or more of them meet -no matter if it is in the field of science, business or leisure- something happens: a new building block is set to sustain the future we want for us and for our children. A new argument arises to support our conviction that the broad Mediterranean area, including all the Middle East, may indeed become –already today: not tomorrow- one of the more dynamic poles of the world.
Your Royal Highness, you represent this hope. You have the benefit of the extraordinary legacy of the Hashemite Kings, and with your initiatives, you have shown your will to follow that path.
In August 2015, under your patronage, a Global Forum on Youth, Peace and Security was held in Amman, following the debate that you presided in the Security Council in April of that same year. What an admirable task you are promoting: to partner with young people to build lasting peace, prevent radicalism and implement sustainable development goals.
Much is as stake, and I wish you the very best in this endeavor and in your life.
Your Majesty, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
My country, Spain, with a long history behind, looks to the future with optimism. We want to continue building a stronger and better European Union, based on the respect for human dignity as the ‘principle of principles’, and based also on the conviction that united we are stronger.
We want to work together with the whole world, and very especially with our friends in the Middle East and North Africa, to rise up to the challenges and seize the opportunities. Our youth is ready, our companies have accelerated their international expansion in the recent past, so they are eager and well prepared.
Let us join forces, defend our values and together build coalitions for peace and for inclusive development.
I wish all of you a very fruitful Forum.
Thank you Jordan, and thank you Your Majesties.