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‘Spain feels very close to Korea, admires continued, strong economic growth’Amb. Ortiz of Spain hosts reception to mark National Day

Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul said, “Spain, although geographically far away, feels very close to this country and has great admiration for Korea who has achieved a continuous and strong economic growth, a full-fledged democracy (as it was the case seen in the political crisis of the past few months), a great presence of Korean companies overseas, and also for the sense of resilience, organization and challenge that characterizes its people.”

Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul (14th from left, front row) poses with CEO & Chairman Choi Sam-suk of the Daewon Plus Construction (reportedly candidate Korean honorary consul for Spain) on his left with other ambassadors and guests. The guests are, from left, Ambassadors Emma-Francoise Isumbingabo of Rwanda, Niroshani Manisha Dias Abeywickrema Gunasekera of Sri Lanka, Stephan Auer of Germany, Jaime Antonio Pomareda of Peru, Rodolfo Solano Quiros of Costa Rica, Otar Berdzenishvili of Georgia, Chafik Rachadi of Morocco, Fernando Danus of Chile, Vitali Fen of Uzbekistan, Bader Mohammad Al-Awadi of Kuwait, Alexander Andreevich Tomonin of Russia, Petar Andonov of Bulgaria, Grecia Fiodalicia Pichardo of Dominican Republic, Mohamed Salim Alharthy of Oman, Raul S. Hernandez of the Philippines, Hakan Okcal of Turkey, Gabor Csaba of Hungary, ValSarun Charoensuwan of Thailand, Marco Dellaseta of Italy, Mohamed Abdi Gello of Kenya, Hassan Taherian of Iran, Andrei Popkov of Belarus, Milan Lajciak of Slovak Republic, Peteris Vaivars of Latvia, Ramzi Teymurov of Azerbaijan, Nozuko Gloria Bam of South Africa, Luis Fernando Iribarne Restuccia of Uruguay,Oscar Gustavo Herrera Gilbert of Ecuador, Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d'Ivoire, Adulah Sarif Ali Saleem Al-Nuaimi of United Arab Emirates, Ganbold Baasanjav of Mongolia, Irineo Raul Silvero Silvagni of Paraguay, Eero Suominen of Finland

Speaking a large reception Ambassador and Mrs. Ortiz hosted at the Marriott Dongdaemun Square Hotel in Seoul on Oct. 12, 2017 in celebration of the National Day of Spain, Ambassador Ortiz said that the Spanish economy was currently very open (the 5th country in the world due to its degree of internationalization) and that exports of goods and services were 35.3% of country's GDP.” (See excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Ortiz toward the end of this article.)

Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul

Excerpts from the speech of Amb. Ortiz of Spain:

By 2017 we expect an increase of GDP of a 3%, one of the fastest growing economies among the advanced countries, according to the IMF and the European Commission.

First of all, I would like to thank you very much to all of you for your participation today at the celebration of the National Day of Spain. It is an honour, and a proof of the affection that you profess to my country.

Let me address you in Spanish, the language that reached its maturity during the reign of “Alfonso X The Wise” King of Castille between 1252 and 1284. He was a great jurist, a musicologist and the founder of the School of Translators of Toledo in which Christians, Muslims and Jews cooperated in the medieval recovery of the classical culture of Greece and Rome.

From left: Chairman Choi Sam-suk of the Daewon Plus Construction, Ambassador Gonzalo Ortiz of Spain in Seoul and Kim Seong Kon of Literature Translation Institute of Korea

King Sejong and King Alfonso X are parallel driven personalities who brought the culture closer to the people, and laid the foundations for their future development.

Nowadays, the Spanish language is the mother tongue of more than 500 million people, among them 35 million are living in the US. The Spanish language is the second mother language more spoken in the world, and also second in international communication and internet usage.

The Spanish language, also called “castellano”, is our common language with countries with shared and deep bonds of blood, Christian culture, and particularly the Spanish way of enjoying life. Spain is very keen to collaborate with the sister Latin American countries working together in search of democracy, freedom and progress.

On October 12th, 1492, three tiny sail vessels arrived in the new Hemisphere that we now call América. It was the beginning of the internationalization of Spain, and that day is our National Day because it marks our historical role as a nation in the last 525 years.

From left: Chairman Choi Sam-suk of the Daewon Plus Construction and Director Kim Seong Kon of Literature Translation Institute of Korea

The Spanish economy is currently very open (it is the 5th country in the world due to its degree of internationalization). Exports of goods and services are 35.3% of country's GDP. By 2017 we expect an increase of GDP of a 3%, one of the fastest growing economies among the advanced countries, according to the IMF and the European Commission.

At present, Spain has an estimated income of 23,970 euros per capita. Because of the past crisis, the Spanish government undertook a series of structural reforms aimed, among other objectives, at fiscal consolidation and the reorganization of the financial system.

We are confident in creating half million jobs annually in 2017 and in the coming years. Our risk premium was set of 94 points at July 2017 (at historical lows). Spain is the first European destination with 75 million tourists last year and 3rd worldwide. As a country playing a very active role in the EU, Spain expects that Europe will intensify its relations with Korea in all areas, using the existing Agreements.

In addition, it is the third country with the highest number of recognized world sites by UNESCO and the second in biosphere reserves. Koreans who travel to Spain are interested in our churches and cathedrals, (Camino de Santiago) as well as our National Parks.

My country produces excellent goods and services in traditional sectors such as tourism, gastronomy and food industry, textiles and clothing, as well as modern sectors incorporating R & D, such as biotechnology, communications, renewable energy, banking and the automotive industry. Another remarkable sectors are transportation and infrastructure (third country in the world in its network of high-speed trains).

Spain counts on the confidence of the markets. The visitors are pleased by the hospitality and the climate, as well as the relative low cost of living. Education and healthcare are free and of high quality. In addition Spain is very generous with immigrants - workers, pensioners - who have been attracted by its security and the rule of law, and the extraordinary attractive monuments of Roman, Arab, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque or Neoclassical origins disseminated in our cities.

Spain, although geographically far away, feels very close to this country and has great admiration for Korea who have achieved a continuous and strong economic growth, a full fledged democracy (as it was the case seen in the political crisis of the past few months), a great presence of Korean companies overseas, and also for the sense of resilience, organization and challenge that characterizes its people.

Chairman Choi Sam-suk of the Daewon Plus Construction (reportedly candidate Korean honorary consul for Spain)

This year we celebrate the 67th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Our bilateral relations have a lot of public diplomacy elements, such as the annual Forum of civil societies, in cooperation with the Korea Foundation, the close relationship with the 16 Korean universities with Spanish department, strong tourism (already in 2017 we will reach the 400,000 visitors), the new Chamber of Commerce of Spain in Korea, and since August 2017 the appointment of a new and dynamic Honorary Consul of Spain in Busan. Hopefully in 2018 we can make reality the State Visit of the King of Spain adjourned in 2016.

Korea and Spain are two countries that are getting closer together. From the good people to people contacts derive a multiplicity of initiatives, but as I have said years of mutual knowledge have produced admiration and sympathy, features that characterize a sincere friendship.

At the beginning of my speech, I have mentioned two Kings, one Korean and one Spanish, that had a lot in common. I would like to finish my speech with a reference to the current King of Spain. In recent weeks Spain has been through a severe crisis, but this crisis has nevertheless reinforced the strength of the Spanish nation on October 4. Felipe VI delivered an important speech to the country with an emphasis on its unity, and the necessary respect for the rule of law, while denouncing the disloyal and anti-democratic actions of the current Catalan regional government.

Please allow me to refer the performance of the King Felipe VI to three quotations of Chinese wisdom: the first, with respect to the rulers, "it is a shame if an official always avoid things," second, with respect to the spirit of service, "serve your country with a sincere heart, "and third and last, with respect to the unity, "the team that is driven by the same spirit throughout all its ranks, wins. "

John Kim  edt@koreapost.com

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