Speech during the Audience with His Majesty King Felipe VI of Spain
As President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and as a Spanish citizen, I am honoured and proud to be received by you today.
I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for giving a private audience to the members of the Parliamentary Assembly's Standing Committee.
The Standing Committee is one of the governing bodies of the Parliamentary Assembly. It brings together the President, the Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, the Chairpersons of National Delegations, the Chairpersons of our Committees, as well as Leaders of our Political Groups.
Leading members of the Spanish delegation to the Assembly have also joined us today, together with senior members of the Secretariat.
It is the first time that representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are received by the Spanish Head of State after 40 years of Spain's membership in the Organisation.
So, my gratitude to you is even deeper.
The importance of the Council of Europe as the guardian of European values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law cannot be underestimated today.
Under your reign, Spain has continued to demonstrate its strong commitment to European values. All of us present here today can attest that Spain continues more than ever to adhere to the aims and principles of our Organisation, that is building a united Europe without dividing lines based on shared values and common standards of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
I would like to thank you for your endeavours which aim at keeping the spirit of cooperation, collaboration and commitment alive. This is the raison d'être of the Council of Europe.
Our Continent faces momentous challenges which are a threat to the harmonious living together of the nations.
I refer to international terrorism, the rise of populist movements at the right and at the left wings of the political spectrum, "frozen" and active conflicts in Europe and our neighbourhood, as well as the refugee crisis and the management of mixed migratory flows.
From the very start of my mandate as President I have been giving my utmost to tackle them.
In this context, let me inform you that, during our today's meeting in Madrid, the Standing Committee will address two issues of crucial importance for Europe: the conflict in Ukraine as well as the Council of Europe's relations with the Russian Parliament.
I would like to conclude my words by reiterating my invitation to you to address the Assembly and my sincere wish to count on your presence in Strasbourg soon. It will be a great honour for us to hear your message.
Once again let express my thanks to you for making this audience possible today.