The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today received the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, José Manuel García-Margallo, at the headquarters of the organization in Washington, DC.
The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, in his words of welcome to the Spanish Foreign Minister, stressed that the country "always actively promotes a foreign policy based on the strengthening of multilateralism." He recalled that Spain was the first country to achieve the status of Permanent Observer to the OAS, in 1972, and considered the visit of Minister García-Margallo as "an unmistakable sign of Spain’s interest in strengthening its links with the region, understanding the problems that affect the community of the Americas, and assisting in the ongoing quest to realize the ideals of our Charter."
Secretary General Insulza emphasized the concrete examples of cooperation between Spain and the region, including the Ibero-American Summits and the creation of the Spanish Fund for the OAS. Regarding the country’s collaboration with the OAS, he highlighted the contributions of the European country to more than a hundred programs, including the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia, the strengthening of the OAS office in the adjacency zone between Belize and Guatemala, the Inter-American System of Human Rights, the judicial facilitators program, and humanitarian demining programs, among others.
At the end of his address, the leader of the hemispheric organization asserted that "the General Secretariat particularly appreciates the willingness of the government of Spain to continue its cooperation with the organization. We interpret it as a clear sign of confidence in the work that we have developed together."
For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain said that "we are at a real historical crossroads," from an economic and geostrategic standpoint, and commented that, in his view, "there are three key dates in the economic history of the world:” 1929, with the Wall Street collapse; 1973, with the oil crisis, increased competition from emerging countries and major demographic changes; and 2007, with the crisis that began with the Lehmann Brothers collapse.
To address this crisis and the global changes it brings, said Minister García-Margallo, the relationship between Europe and the Americas "can not look like it did 20 years ago," rather it must be symmetrical. Along that line, he said "we are fortunate that we share values, we share principles, and we share the same view of the world.” Expanding upon this idea, he said: "This organization has been characterized by its defense of democracy as a system of representation –citizens elect their governments-, by the defense of human rights and by the defense of gender issues and the environment."
The Spanish Minister said Europe and the Americas should join forces to define precisely what role they will play in the new world order. "We have obvious initial advantages," said García-Margallo, and insisted that "we would be wrong to not take advantage of these values and present ourselves as a bloc that wants to have its own voice in a world increasingly dominated by powers beyond our regions that are beginning to have an extremely important role." "Count on my government and my country to explore together with you that path, those roads, to intensify our dialogue and affirm our role in the world," concluded the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.
The Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, Arturo Vallarino Bartuano expressed gratitude for Spain's commitment to the region, saying that "your political will and financial resources have strengthened the institutional capacity of the OAS as a hemispheric forum par excellence, have enriched the lives of the citizens of the Americas, and have contributed significantly to the strengthening of this organization."
During the meeting of the Permanent Council the representatives of Mexico, El Salvador, Peru, Chile, Haiti (on behalf of CARICOM), Colombia, Canada, Honduras (on behalf of SICA), Guatemala and Belize all took part, as did the Permanent Observer of Spain to the OAS.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video of the event is available here.
The B-roll of the event will be available here.
The audio of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.