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‘As old friends and allies, Spain and Korea represent common values’National Day message of Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul

▲ Ambassador Ambassador Gonzalo Otiz of Spain (left) and Editor Ms. Linda Youn of the Korean-language edition of The Korea Post.

Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul said that as old friends and allies Korea and Spain represent common values. In an article contributed to The Korea Post for publication on the occasion of the National Day of Spain on Oct. 12, 2016, Ambassador Ortiz stated that Spain fully shares the values of the European Union as its member countries for peace and security through denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and full comment to the human rights. Excerpts from the article follow:

I am very happy to have the cooperation of The Korea Post in the celebration of our National Day. As old friends and allies, Spain and Korea represent common values. My country, a member of the European Union, fully shares its goals of peace and security so as denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and full commitment for the Human Rights overall. This year we all celebrate the Fifth anniversary of the Korea-EU Trade Agreement, a win-win endeavor, a tool that can be used to fully extract its enormous possibilities. Nevertheless, we are worried about non-tariff barriers that limit the export of Spanish food and consumer goods to the Korea market. We expect a level playing field where European and Korea firms can compete in a fair way. That could be also applied to the services market so as public procurements.

Not long ago the Rio de Janeiro Olympics came to a close for the first time in South America. The Spanish results were very remarkable with a total of 17 medals including 7 gold, 4 silver and 6 bronze. It is for us very satisfactory for a country like Spain deeply committed with the Olympic ideals, and host of the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Let me refer to Juan Antonio Samaranch, President of ICO, who made an important contribution to the celebration of the Olympic Games in Korea 1988. By the way, I would like to congratulate the South Korean team for its excellent 8th position with 21 medals (among them 9 gold).

▲ Photo shows the picture of beautiful Spanish coast with Dia Nacional de Espana.

The last year marked an overall peak on the figures of Korean tourists to Spain. More than 350.000 visitors came to my country attracted by its security, history, food and natural wonders. Many of them returned back to Korea with incredible experiences. At this point I would like to mention the recently deceased Chung Tae-wan, a long time representative of Iberia and the Spanish Tourism and one of the factotums of this formidable trend.

2016 is the year of the commemoration of 400 years of the death of Miguel Cervantes, our most famous writer, wide acclaimed. This celebration ?as the one of Shakespeare who died apparently the same day, the same year- stresses the universal values they represent, and their contribution to the world literary history.

The Korean people are very Quixotic, fully devoted to its ideals, no matter how risky or difficult are the goals. But at the same time they have the acute sense of reality of Sancho.

Our gastronomy is more and more appreciated in Korea, and a good number of Korean chefs are now learning in selected places like the Basque Culinary Center. This year back up for the National Day, by the way, is about the beautiful city of San Sebastian, together with Woclaw, one of the European Cultural capitals of 2016. We expect that through adequate promotion our tapas (similar to the Korean “banchan”), our wine, and our delicatessen in general, will be little by little be incorporated to the Korean gastronomic culture.

I would like to mention the attraction of Camino de Santiago for the Korean mind. Camino de Santiago is pilgrimage, nature, comradeship, fiesta, culture and gastronomy. And Koreans love all of it. Remarkable is also the interest for the Tomato Festival of Bunol, now being celebrated also in Dalseong, close to Daegu.

I must confess my profound admiration for the Korean fondness to music, and dance in general. Opera, ballet, choruses, philharmonic orchestras, modern dance, have in Korea very high quality and international reputation. I envy you very much. Last week, Placido Domingo held a fantastic concert with the support of some outstanding young Korean performers. I am also honored by the high appreciation that Koreans give to the rhythm and joyfulness of composers like Granados, Albeniz, Monfort, Tarrega, Moreno Torroba, Segovia or the immortal Manuel de Falla.

▲ Korean and international guests enjoy Spanish food and beverage at the National Day of Spain reception at Lotte Hotel in Seoul on

Artistic expression is cultivated in this country so as eco-friendly architecture. Thanks to the good work of Michuhol Art Center, big artists or painters, like Picasso, Antonio Gaudi or Joan Miro have been accessible to the Korean general public. As Bartomeu Mari, the current National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art put it “Fine Arts and Architecture are areas where Korea and Spain can cooperate very much in the future”. So as in the area of Climate Change, domain where another Spaniard, Javier Manzanares, has been recently appointed Director of the Green Climate Fund.

Back to Spain, and its economic performances, we expect the Spanish Economy to grow a 3% approximately in 2016. Spain is an active member of the European Union, and as such we will deal with the new challenges coming from Brexit, terrorism or the refugee crisis. Together with the European countries we fully commit ourselves with the objectives of the Paris COP 21, in defense of the planet environment.

Spain is a solid country, full of history, and since 2014 with the renovated monarchy of Felipe VI. In recent years, the Spanish government has undertaken the adequate measures to overcome economic difficulties through reforms in the financial, tax and labor sectors. Spain is a country very generous with outward immigration, and proud of the most generous and quality oriented public health system of the whole world. It is a country between Europe and Latin America, a soft power aiming for peace, and striving to develop deeper relations with Korea.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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