Spain celebrated this Monday at the Teatro Real the 40th anniversary of its accession to NATO. Four decades of "a historic step after our exemplary Transition towards a democratic and modern society", as claimed by His Majesty the King in his closing speech at the event held at the Teatro Real
Felipe VI stressed that Spain's entry into the Atlantic Alliance "allowed us to fully integrate into the European and Atlantic political sphere and, ultimately, the international one".
“Spain always considered that being a member of the Alliance did not simply mean joining an international organization, which was and continues to be the backbone of our deterrence and collective defense. It was also embracing the principles and values of democracy, individual freedom and the rule of law, enshrined in the preamble to the Washington Treaty”, explained the King.
The King emphasized how joining NATO marked the way to join the EU and «implied definitively linking our future as a nation with that of the Euro-Atlantic community; a link that would be further strengthened with our incorporation into the European Communities almost four years later».
The event was attended by the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, eight Government ministers (none from Podemos), the former presidents Felipe González, José María Aznar and José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, as well as four former general secretaries of the Alliance, among them the socialist Javier Solana.
As he did in the toast for the Armed Forces Day celebrated on Saturday in Huesca, Don Felipe had words of remembrance for the Ukrainian people at the beginning of his speech: «The unacceptable Russian aggression against Ukraine reminds us, and it does so in a tragic way , the enormous value in our lives of peace, security and democracy […] We are united in our support for Ukraine».
Don Felipe also claimed the transforming role of NATO in our armies: «From Armed Forces historically dedicated to guaranteeing the security of our borders, we evolved towards a model in whose DNA not only traditional territorial defense appeared but also collective defense, along with other defining elements of our current Armed Forces such as interoperability, combined action, joint operational and capabilities planning».
The King also referred to the momentous Madrid Summit to be held from the night of June 28 to 30. “Spain will spare no effort to guarantee its success. Strategic reality demands it. Spain fully shares, and at this precise moment even more so, the crucial importance of maintaining a solid deterrence and defense on our eastern flank”, said Don Felipe, who offered lunch at the nearby Royal Palace after the event.
Facing the Madrid Summit, Felipe VI asked NATO not to forget the threats coming from the South. "Our collective security also requires that the Alliance pay increasing attention to the challenges of the strategic direction South, where jihadist-based terrorism directly threatens our societies."
Among those attending the event were also the presidents of the Congress, Senate and CGPJ, the leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, the ambassadors accredited to NATO from the 30 allied countries and the diplomatic corps accredited in Spain.
The act was inaugurated with the anthem of Spain and NATO. After an overture by Beethoven, President Pedro Sánchez went to the audience where the guests were to remember "such a special date."
"This permanence in NATO allows us to be what we are, because we are not only talking about a military alliance but an alliance of countries with principles that originate the well-being of our peoples," said Sánchez, who recalled "the decades of dictatorship, darkness and blockade of the Franco's dictatorship. The president took advantage of his speech to justify the need to increase defense spending, from 1.03% of current GDP to 2% in a decade.
Sánchez also condemned Putin's "brutal" war in Ukraine, "which is not going to achieve its objectives." The president emphasized that "NATO is fundamental to guaranteeing who we are."