awards

Address by His Excellency José Mará Aznar
October 14, 2003
Rabbi Schneier,
Messrs Volcker,
Whitehead,
Condit,
Ackerman
Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to accept this “World Statesman Award”. I would like to thank you, Rabbi Schneier, for your kind words of introduction.

I feel deeply honoured at joining the distinguished past recipients of the Award and am highly privileged to have my name associated with those who believe, as does this Foundation, that it is freedom that provides nations with the fruits of democracy and human rights. Free democracy and individual rights are the values that characterize a civilization open to the entire world.

These values have been of the utmost importance to me throughout my political career and when thinking about my country.

I would like to speak to you first tonight about modern-day Spain, a responsible, dynamic and open country.

Second, allow me to say something on the need to fight terrorism using the means available to us through the rule of law.

Third, I would urge you to bear in mind the moral imperative, the need to listen to the victims of terrorism, whose message gives us great emotional support in the aforementioned fight.

Fourth, let me emphasize that, without international cooperation and solidarity, it will be very difficult to eradicate terrorism from today's globalized world.

Finally, let me say also that we are working to secure the recovery of Iraq and in so doing we do not put our national interests before those of a country that has suffered at the hands of an aggressive dictatorship, thankfully no longer in power today.

Dear friends,

In a few months, my country will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of its Constitution. Just 25 years ago, it was commonplace for question marks to be associated with the mention of Spain. A country rightly reputed for its bravery, but which had taken time to occupy its rightful place amongst the community of free nations. A nation long famous for its honesty and loyalty to its allies.

Spain, which is committed to the construction of the European Union, believes firmly in the Atlantic link, and in close relations between Europe and the United States as one of the key components of that construction. It makes no sense to try to build a Europe as any form of counterpower. If the United States and Europe face the challenges which confront the world together, the world will benefit.

Moreover, Spain and the United States contribute to the efforts currently made by Iberoamerica to reach its just position in the world. A position defined by the principles of liberty, democracy and full respect for the fundamental rights of persons, and the rule of law. In those joint efforts, the Hispanic Communities of the United States are bound to play a fundamental role.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Twenty-five years later, Spanish democracy has heralded in a dynamic society that looks optimistically to the future.

However, Spain can also look proudly to its long history as a European nation.

Over these past twenty-five years, including my seven as prime minister, the most trying moments have without doubt been those caused by terrorism.

Spain has suffered in its midst the cruelty of terrorism, directed at people and institutions.

Terrorist groups always seek to impose their will upon us, by operating outside the law and democracy. Terrorists, irrespective of their political leaning, direct their fanaticism against tolerance and human rights.

Which is why it is important that we believe firmly that democracy and the rule of law are the most powerful opponents of terrorism. Terrorist violence cowers and weakens when confronted by democracies.

Dear friends,

Less than a month ago, in this very city of New York, at the United Nations I called for the voices of the victims to be heeded with particular attention. They do not merely deserve to be heard. We must pay tribute to them; we must pay homage to their sacrifice.

Above all, however, we owe these victims a better world in which tolerance and human dignity prevail.

Two years ago New York was the setting for a shameful demonstration of contempt for human life. But the people of this city responded with an admirable lesson in public spiritedness and sense of responsibility. It was one of the most beautiful pages of our times.

Like you, I believe that a crime committed in the name of religion is still a crime. Acts of terrorism dishonour any religious, ethnic or social cause. Let us call things by their proper name: terrorist barbarity is a crime against humanity. Terrorism is a crime against civilization , against the whole of civilization .

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On his first trip to Europe, before these events took place, President Bush offered my country his full support against terrorism. For that reason, on 11 September 2001, the people of Spain wanted to make it very clear that the United States could rely on Spain as a particularly loyal ally in the new fight. Together we can, together we will defeat terrorism. With international cooperation and solidarity we will achieve this aim.

Dear friends,

One of the crucial phases in the fight against terrorism is underway in Iraq at present. The Iraqi people deserve to have control of their destiny. Iraq deserves to be able to make use of its own resources in peace and freedom. The Iraqi people deserve to enjoy all these things which a brutal tyranny denied them for so long.

Many countries, including Spain and the United States, are working together to guarantee peace and security in Iraq. We want a free and plural Iraq, a fully sovereign Iraq.

Only if security is guaranteed will it be possible to properly address the reconstruction of Iraq

A Donors' Conference for the reconstruction of Iraq takes place in Spain next week. This is a job which has to be undertaken by the entire international community. For the sake of the future of Iraq, this Conference must be a success.

A democratic, pluralist Iraq, an Iraq at peace, will certainly be an element of stability in the Middle East, not to mention a orthy example to follow.

Dear friends,

Let me end with a quote by Winston Churchill which I believe is particularly appropriate on this occasion: “Wherever men are fighting against barbarism, tyranny, and massacre for freedom, law and honour, let them remember that the fame of their deeds may perhaps be celebrated as long as the world rolls round”.

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