King Felipe VI commits to a strong and united Europe to tackle global challenges

© Jero Morales

This morning, the Royal Monastery of Yuste hosted the award ceremony for the Thirteenth European Carlos V Award awarded by the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation, which for the first time is awarded to an initiative, the Cultural Itineraries of the Council of Europe. In his speech, His Majesty King Felipe VI highlighted the need to work collectively to tackle global challenges with a Europe that is more united, stronger and more effective in meeting the expectations of its citizens.

Among the challenges that Europe has to face, Felipe VI has pointed out climate change, sustainability of the planet, massive migrations or the results of the technological and digital revolution and has shown himself confident that the EU, with tools such as Agenda 2030 or the SGD, has appropriate tools to address them.

“Cultural itineraries are an opportunity to focus on almost unpopulated areas becoming a commitment to sustainable development and a boost for economic growth and tourism in such areas, in addition to an example of transnational cooperation” said Felipe VI.

The King has defined this initiative, in his opinion, as an example of cooperation between individuals, peoples, countries, continents where the identity of European values and heritage are reflected.

“It emphasises the cultural and historical pillars that represent who we are, our history, our roots, our differences and our common points which are at the origin of the paths represented by the Itineraries and the Certified Routes of the Council of Europe” he said.

He showed himself proud to be Honorary President of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation after having worked for 27 years in the interest of European integration through the basic pillars that identify its citizens and always taking to the highest level the EU motto “united in diversity”.

Furthermore, the President of the Board has advocated for facilitating bridges of understanding, tightening ties and sharing key knowledge for progress. He appreciated the importance of these itineraries as they symbolise the promotion of cultural democracy, the promotion of dialogue and the merger of values, activities and behaviours.

“Young people are the present building the future,” said Fernandez Vara, defining these convulsed moments where “we must all have an ambitious vision to give answers to the challenges we face.

The President of the Board stressed that Extremadura society is a reflection of all European values, a source of integration, progress, dialogue and consensus, while recalling at the same time that the region is very aware of the sustainable use of natural resources.

Statement by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe

The person in charge of collecting the award was the maximum representative of the Cultural Itineraries of the Council of Europe, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, who said that these routes are more than a network of physical routes, they are journeys through space and time.

“Each is based on a historical route, cultural concept, figure or phenomenon of transnational importance and significance for the understanding and respect of common European values”, he said.

Jagland recalled that the routes run through at least three member states, providing an opportunity for Europeans to get to know each other better and participate in a shared culture by contributing to sustainable economic development along the way. He also added that the success of the programme arises from Europeans’ demand for greater.

The network will soon have its 33rd member state when Latvia joins this year. There are a total of 38 certified routes crossing more than 61 countries, 21 of which cross Spain. The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has expressed his concern about the rise of nationalism and extremism caused by the loss of historical memory, the increase in poverty and inequality and the perception of the threat of “others” in a rapidly changing globalised world. He has defended constitutionalism as the answer to these problems.

“I firmly believe that a state should be governed based on an agreed constitution and internal conflicts, whether legal or political, should be solved that way, according to rules that provide clarity, fairness and predictability” said Jagland.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has recalled that no government has so far changed the law and if that were done they would have to abandon the Convention and their citizens would pay a high price for the losses of their legal protections. He ensured that the creation of a common space such as the EU has allowed agreeing on legal rights such as the right of expression, freedom, security, seven decades in which the system of conventions has replaced conflict with cooperation.

To persuade member states to better apply the European Social Charter as a remedy to poverty and rising inequality Jagland is committed to European citizens and leaders working to recommit themselves to shared values with a deeper understanding of culture and shared heritage.

This year, the event, as a novelty, included the raising of the European flag upon the arrival of His Majesty the King at the same time as the anthem was performed by a wind trio from the Extremadura Youth Orchestra (Orquesta Joven de Extremadura). The ceremony was also attended by Cecilia Pereira Miramón, Director of Xacobeo 2021 and representative of the Camino de Santiago, the first certified itinerary of the Council of Europe; and the young Inés Rodríguez and Paula Chato, students of the Jaranda de Jarandilla de la Vera Secondary School.

Also present at the event were, among other personalities, Carmen Calvo, Vice President of the Government; Rebeca Grynspan, Ibero-American General Secretary and Yuste academic; Ana Pastor, President of the Congress of Deputies; and Marcelino Oreja, awardee of the Eleventh European Carlos V Award and Member of the Academy of Yuste.

Likewise, the Extremadura Youth Orchestra was responsible for interpreting the European Anthem, together with the soprano Carmen Solís. Some twenty ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from European and Latin American countries, such as Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Latvia, Czech Republic; United Kingdom; Malta; Cyprus; Dominican Republic; Brazil; Chile; Luxembourg; Netherlands, Hungary, Portugal, El Salvador, Italy, Belgium, Andorra and Spain attended the event; in addition to several members of the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste such as Juan Carlos Rodríguez Ibarra and Monica Luisa Macovei.

Once the solemn ceremony was over, the ‘Yuste Olive tree for Peace‘ was planted, it being a tree that symbolises peace and European values, and these values are also upheld by the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation.

To date, the winners of the Carlos V European Award have been Jacques Delors (1995), Wilfried Martens (1998), Felipe González (2000), Mijail Gorbachov (2002), Jorge Sampaio (2004), Helmut Kohl (2006), Simone Veil (2008), Javier Solana (2010), José Manuel Durao Barroso (2013), Sofía Corradi (2016); Marcelino Oreja (2017) and Antonio Tajani (2018).