Spain, 40 years mov­ing for­ward

The Philippine Star - - OPINION - JORGE MORAGAS (Jorge Moragas is Am­bas­sador-des­ig­nate of Spain to the Philip­pines.)

On Dec. 6 Spain cel­e­brated 40 years of the ref­er­en­dum that ap­proved its cur­rent Con­sti­tu­tion. It was the cul­mi­na­tion of a process that put an end to half a cen­tury of in­sta­bil­ity and sub­se­quent dic­ta­tor­ship, in­au­gu­rat­ing a new era of democ­racy, rule of law and pros­per­ity.

Over these four decades, Spain has changed enor­mously, be­com­ing the open, mod­ern and in­clu­sive coun­try it is to­day. This long and suc­cess­ful jour­ney has been driven by the pow­ers of the State: the King, the gov­ern­ment, the leg­isla­tive and the ju­di­ciary. But it wouldn’t have been pos­si­ble with­out the sus­tained ef­fort of the Span­ish so­ci­ety as a whole.

Al­most 90 per­cent of vot­ers rat­i­fied the 1978 Con­sti­tu­tion. Its draft­ing was a work of con­sen­sus among us all, not ex­empt of dif­fi­cul­ties. The re­sult, how­ever, is a coun­try that boasts one of the high­est lev­els of demo­cratic qual­ity in the world, as rec­og­nized by The Econ­o­mist, Free­dom House or World Jus­tice Project, amongst oth­ers. It also reg­is­ters one of the world’s great­est ter­ri­to­rial de­cen­tral­iza­tions and re­gional self-gov­er­nance, as our Magna Carta paved the way to a sys­tem that ac­knowl­edges, pro­tects and pro­motes our cul­tural and lin­guis­tic di­ver­sity.

But if I have to un­der­line one par­tic­u­lar char­ac­ter­is­tic of Spain to­day it is prob­a­bly its sol­i­dar­ity, both within the coun­try it­self and to­wards the rest of the world. It is a prin­ci­ple that has driven our coun­try to hav­ing one of the most ef­fi­cient uni­ver­sal health­care sys­tems world­wide, as well as free ed­u­ca­tion for all. Sol­i­dar­ity has also driven Span­ish multi­na­tional com­pa­nies to lead cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity in­dexes in the world and to be at the top in the pro­duc­tion of sus­tain­abil­ity re­ports in Europe. It has fur­ther­more driven our ef­forts to un­der­take projects in the fields of so­lar en­ergy (78 per­cent of so­lar ther­mo­elec­tric en­ergy projects in the world are be­ing car­ried out by Span­ish com­pa­nies), waste man­age­ment, water re­use and clean en­er­gies. The Span­ish is­land of El Hierro in the Ca­nary Is­lands, for ex­am­ple, aims to achieve zero waste by 2020.

The prin­ci­ple of sol­i­dar­ity is also be­hind our po­si­tion as a global leader in hu­man rights, par­tic­u­larly in de­fend­ing real equal­ity be­tween women and men and in the recog­ni­tion and pro­tec­tion of the rights of the LGTBI com­mu­nity. The same can be said with re­gard to the re­sponse to nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, both at home and abroad, and to hu­man­i­tar­ian crises.

Un­doubt­edly, the open na­ture of my coun­try has also re­flected in its for­eign pol­icy. Over these 40 years, Spain has been fully com­mit­ted to the Euro­pean project. In the late 70s and early 80s, one of the main goals of the newly born democ­racy was to join the Euro­pean Union, which was achieved in 1986. Since then, Spain has main­tained its po­si­tion as one of the most pro-Euro­pean coun­tries, lead­ing the sur­veys of those who back the Euro­pean project, its prin­ci­ples and val­ues.

Spain has ac­tively con­trib­uted to United Na­tions as well, hav­ing oc­cu­pied a seat as a non- per­ma­nent mem­ber of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil on four oc­ca­sions since the ap­proval of the Con­sti­tu­tion, and par­tic­i­pat­ing ac­tively in all the tech­ni­cal bod­ies that com­prise the United Na­tions sys­tem. In­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion has of course ex­tended to the area of de­vel­op­ment: the Span­ish Agency for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Co­op­er­a­tion (AECID) is now present in nearly 40 coun­tries, in­clud­ing the Philip­pines, work­ing with their gov­ern­ments as a trust­ful and com­mit­ted part­ner.

We have also worked closely with the Ibero-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity, with whom we share so many ties, not the least the Span­ish lan­guage, which Spain is pro­mot­ing in the Philip­pines both through the In­sti­tuto Cer­vantes and through the part­ner­ship with the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion of the Philip­pines.

As a re­sult of all the above, Spain has been able to as­sume over these 40 years an ac­tive in­ter­na­tional role, putting into prac­tice the val­ues, prin­ci­ples and pro­vi­sions estab­lished in the Con­sti­tu­tion of 1978. The re­sult fills me with pride as I stand to look at an ad­vanced, plu­ral and open coun­try which is en­joy­ing the long­est pe­riod of sta­bil­ity in its his­tory.

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