The Ambassador of Spain to Ghana, Mrs Alicia Rico Pérez del Pulgar, has stated that in this increasingly interdependent world, there is the need to work together to face the many global challenges that no country or region can overcome alone.
Among these challenges, she said, was the refugee and migration crisis, which was an issue that touched Spain very closely because it had been a country of migrants and also of refugees only 80 years ago.
As a founder member of the Rabat Process and in line with the Valetta Action Plan, together with other European partners, she disclosed that they were cooperating with Ghana to prevent human trafficking and the loss of more young lives in their dangerous journey to Europe.
Mrs Pulgar was delivering her address at a reception to mark the National Day of Spain held at her residence in Accra.
She noted that because of Spain’s history and geographical position, at the crossroads of continents and seas, the country had had the privilege of having European roots and identity and reaffirmed its commitment to the European project, the values and principles it embodied and a Mediterranean vocation and responsibility.
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“Because of our proximity, it is only natural that western Africa should be a strategic region for Spain, at the core of our foreign policy and of our regional cooperation with the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),” she pointed out.
Mrs Pulgar stressed that Spain and Ghana had had excellent relations since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 1968, adding that the two countries shared the same values but much more could be done.
Sixty-one years after her independence, she observed that the government of Ghana had the conviction that more needed to be done in terms of real economic and sustainable development to provide jobs and opportunities for her youth.
She referred to the great African leader Nelson Mandela who stated that “the greatest responsibility of every single generation is to contribute to the progress of the next one”.
Ghana Beyond Aid
The ambassador noted that the structural economic reforms and the changes that the government of Ghana was working on in the framework of the Ghana Beyond Aid policy would not be achieved overnight.
She said it would require effective implementation and the fight against corruption, and just like in every country, long-term development could only be achieved if it was not affected by partisan politics.
Spain, she emphasised, was committed to accompanying Ghana on this journey to self-sufficiency and prosperity it had embarked upon.
She said they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Railway Development to cooperate in a strategic sector for the development of adequate transport infrastructure in this country.
“In a world where the global economy is creating a wider gap between the rich and the poor, it is important for both our countries to ensure inclusive growth,” she added.
Fight against organised crime
Mrs Pulgar stressed that Spain and Ghana were also strategic partners in the fight against organised crime, terrorism and drug trafficking.
We have also been involved in maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea for the last 20 years, she announced and said, “Every six months, a Spanish military vessel carries out training exercises with the Ghanaian navy in the context of our defence diplomacy.”
Spain will continue advocating for gender equality and the empowerment of women, she assured, adding that their cooperation with the academia, and in particular the University of Ghana, Legon continued to be a priority, particularly with the Department of Modern Languages.
The ambassador observed that the occasion marked the historic event which took place on October 12, 1492 when three small vessels commanded by Cristopher Columbus arrived in America.
She said the historic encounter between two worlds was one of the most important events in history and it was at the origin of Spain’s long and enduring relationship with her partners of the Ibero-American Community of Nations with whom, among other strong ties, they shared a common language spoken by over 572 million people in the world.
Today, she said, Spain remembers and celebrates two landmark events in the history of their country and of the world, adding that more than 500 years ago, different kingdoms with diverse realities united under one single monarchy and gave birth to Spain as a modern nation.
This year, she said, Spain also celebrates the 40th anniversary of its Constitution adopted in 1978.
Mrs Pulgar proposed a toast to the well-being of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the people of Ghana and to the strong relations between the Kingdom of Spain and the Republic of Ghana.
It was attended by ministers of state, including the Minister of Railways Development, Mr Joe Ghartey, Members of Parliament (MPs), members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Spanish Community, religious and traditional leaders.