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The President's Toast at a State Luncheon in Madrid, Spain

June 25, 1980

Your Majesties, Mr. President, friends of Spain and the United States:

This is a great moment for me to be here and to bring you and your people the warm good wishes of the Government and people of the United States of America. It is a special pleasure, because of my great personal interest in your language and culture.

Four hundred years ago, Spain was the superpower of the Western World, and the Spanish of that day left a legend of vision and courage that has never been forgotten. During that golden age, painters like El Greco and Velasquez and writers like Cervantes and Lope De Vega taught the world new ways to see and to feel. The Spanish explorers were the astronauts of their day, bravely probing new worlds with unforeseen dangers and difficulties. All of us have benefited from this greatness of Spain.

My own State of Georgia began as a very small outpost of the Spanish Empire. The first European to set foot there was Hernando de Soto, in 1540. Georgia was a Spanish colony for a much longer time than it was an English colony.

I speak of the historic influence of Spain because it is so obvious that Spain's courage and greatness prevail today. In little more than 4 years, you have created a vigorous, thriving democracy, with respect for human rights, individual liberties, and freedom of expression. The task has not been easy. You have had to contend with worldwide recession, with enormous increases in energy costs, and with ancient and sometimes divisive internal challenges. Yet you have succeeded brilliantly in rebuilding old institutions and creating new ones.

The growth of Spanish democracy has been a tonic for the entire Western World. Spain refutes the false contention that the sweep of history is invariably toward authoritarianism. So, Spain is a source of hope and inspiration to democrats everywhere. Spain's experience holds lessons about resolution, moderation, and selfcontrol, lessons for other democracies and for new countries in the Third World which have found freedom and now are searching for models to follow in shaping their own societies.

In the past 4 years, Spain has also moved toward a new place of leadership in the world. Your Ministers have repeatedly made it clear that Spain stands side by side with the other Western democracies, as a full member-to-be of the European and Atlantic Communities. We are pleased that you have begun negotiations for entry into the European Communities, because we believe that Spain's accession will strengthen the Community, just as the Community strengthens Europe.

Similarly, we hope that Spain will see its own interests served by participating in the collective defense of the West. However, we fully recognize that this is a decision to be taken solely and exclusively by Spain, in its own time and in its own way. Our Nation will give full support to your decision once it has been made.

In addition, our two countries share a bilateral security partnership based on important common interests. We will begin a review this year of the security relationship that has well served the interests of both our countries and that will continue to serve our joint interests for many years to come.

Our significant economic relationship also links our peoples. American business leaders have demonstrated their faith in Spain's future by their high level of investments here in recent years. Exporters in each country have looked to the other as an important market for their products. What is absolutely clear is that the growing economic relationship is of very great benefit to both countries.

Spain's concern about energy supplies is fully shared in the United States. As you know, I took office as President at a time when the American people still largely believed that oil was an infinite resource. The central drama of American public life during the last 4 years has been the struggle to change that attitude and then to build a viable energy policy. The struggle goes on, but the foundations for such an energy policy are now nearly complete. This is crucial not only to the future of my own country but to the broader web of relationships of which both our countries are a part.

Our two countries also share a strong interest in democratic evolution and respect for human rights in other parts of the world. In Latin America we both have special ties. I appreciate the support and wise counsel we have often received from Spain with respect to difficult, frequently critical situations in Latin America and the Caribbean. We also appreciate the close consultations we have had and the assistance you have given us on the hostage crisis in Iran and other aspects of that delicate situation. In the Middle East and parts of Africa, we can look forward to further cooperation, especially valuable because of your historical knowledge of the Moslem world.

The United States has special reason to applaud Spain's emergence as a major partner in the unfinished tasks of peace. Her cultural and historical ties in so many areas of the world enable her to be a bridge between the Third World and the West. This is especially relevant as we take up the problems of the new decade, which in many ways will be more difficult and dangerous than any we have surmounted before.

Today the West confronts a strategic challenge of historic magnitude. From 1945 through the mid-1950's, we successfully resisted Soviet expansionary power westward and eastward. Today the Soviet Union is thrusting southward directly in Afghanistan, indirectly through Vietnam and Cambodia, and elsewhere by means of foreign proxies. The challenge is clear, and so is the question it poses for our democratic institutions: Do we permit aggression to proceed with impunity, or do we resist encroachment which affects our common vital interests? There is no doubt in my mind where both our countries stand on this issue.

The gratifying resurgence of Spanish influence throughout the world is an important source of confidence with which the West can approach the difficult decade of the 1980's. That confidence is fully justified. The vitality I have witnessed here attests to Spain's own sure sense of its future and the direction it has freely taken toward democracy, diversity, and the unfettered exercise of the human spirit.

Your Majesty, I would like to raise my glass: To you, to your lovely queen, to your President and all the leaders of the government and of the democratic opposition who have helped build Spanish democracy, and above all to the Spanish people, to whose spirit goes the bulk of the credit for the successes of the past several years. Viva Espana!

Note: The exchange of toasts began at approximately 3:15 p.m. in the State Dining Room of the Royal Palace.

Following the toast of King Juan Carlos I, the President delivered his response in Spanish. As printed above, the President's toast follows the advance text released by the White House.

Jimmy Carter, The President's Toast at a State Luncheon in Madrid, Spain Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/251358

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