GUIÓN PARA LA INTERVENCIÓN DE ESPERANZA AGUIRRE EN LA ACADEMIC SESSION “SPAIN AND EUROPE: OLD MYTHS AND NEW REALITIES”

EN EL MARCO DE LA OXFORD EUROPEAN REUNION (Madrid, 27th april 2013) Rt Hon Lord Christopher Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Dear friends Tom Burns, William Chislett y Charles Powell, Alumni of the University of Oxford, First of all I want to say thank you. It is an honour for all of us madrileños that you should have chosen our city for your European Reunion. Thank you and welcome. Quite a few Oxford alumni such as Tom and Charles live and work in Madrid, and as for William he had the great fortune to be born in Oxford. They are all very much madrileños. They will be your best

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guides to Madrid and the best sources of information on Spain today. I am very grateful to my friend Lord Patten of Barnes for his invitation to attend this academic programme. It has long been a pleasure of mine to know Sir John Elliott and I am delighted to have made the acquaintance of Doctor Jonathan Thacker. And now let me tell you a couple of things about my country. It is true that we are in the middle of a profound economic crisis and that many Spaniards are unemployed. And it is true that this crisis has somewhat demoralised us. But in the last decades, and especially when José María Aznar was prime minister between nineteen ninety six and two thousand and four, Spain has made huge economic and social advances. We are still twice as prosperous as we were during our

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last recession at the beginning of the nineteen nineties and this gives us hope for a future recovery. Our infrastructures are a good example of our progress. Spain has now a best-in-the-class highway and fast speed train network and this is a clear competitive advantage for business and also for tourism. Spain is a global power in the tourism industry. We have the climate and the space. We have landscapes, mountain ranges and coastlines. We have a magnificent cultural heritage in our monuments, our churches and museums and, last but not least, we have very good wines and a superb cuisine. Spain is very attractive place to visit, to live in and to work in. It is also a safe place. Security is good.

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One

of

Spain’s

strengths

is

the

positive

disposition of the immense majority of Spaniards. In the midst of our current recession, we get on with the job in hand and remain confident that prosperity will return. Since the restoration of democracy and the Monarchy, Spain has become an increasingly open society and, as such, open to opportunities. One cause for optimism is that for the first time in our history many of our qualified young people are working outside Spain. I am certain that the increasing number of young Spaniards holding good jobs abroad will have a very positive effect on our economy and on the manner that Spaniards face future challenges. And I can’t help adding that what really makes us Spaniards happy and proud and fills us with optimism is the success of our national football team, which has now for several years been the best in the world.

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Many of us think that if we are capable of winning in a sport that the whole world plays, surely we will be able to emerge from the current economic crisis and once more create more jobs than anywhere else in Europe as occurred during Aznar’s premiership. Dear friends, As you must have noticed I am full of optimism for Spain despite our problems. Spain was too exotic for its own good over the past two centuries when it endured countless political upheavals. It was a very exciting country for those who looked at us from abroad. Too exciting. And because of that it attracted many British travellers, romantic travellers and romantic writers, as Tom Burns discussed in his book “Hispanomanía”.

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Since the restoration of democracy in 1977 we have striven to be less exotic, more normal, more boring. Charles Powell has written in depth about Spain’s peaceful political transition and William Chislett has closely studied the growth of the Spanish economy. I think the result has been pretty satisfactory. We will continue on this path although we will be less exotic for colourful British writers and travellers. Let me finish by making a confession. I am a huge anglophile and one of things I most envy about the United Kingdom is its university education. I would copy it if I could. You have the best university system in the world and your university is its best exhibit. If Spain had an Oxford I would be even more optimistic about our future. Thank you very much and I look forward to our debate on “Old Myths and New Realities”.

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