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Greetings from President of the Government of Spain to Spanish units deployed overseas

Madrid, Thursday 24 December 2020


Good day. Having reached this festive period, which is so special and heartfelt for everyone, it is an honour to address all of you. Today I not only address you as President of the Government of Spain, but also as the spokesperson of the whole country, which so admires you and is so proud of your work.

We are now coming to the end of this 2020, a very difficult and complex year in which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of pain and suffering in Spain and around the world.

Many of you have taken part in Operation Balmis, and have been on the front line in supporting our country at very difficult times. After having helped your fellow countrymen in the streets and hospitals throughout the country, in care homes for the elderly in Spain, in contact tracing work, you are now deployed overseas to help many others that need you to move towards a better future that is safer and more prosperous.

You are a clear example of service to Spain and to the whole of the international community.

At this time, fulfilling your mission, and I am aware of this, does not allow you to be at home with your family, friends and partners. Today, physical distances keep you away from home, but I would like to convey to you a sentiment shared by all the people of Spain, which is that each of you, and also your families, will be very present in our hearts and in our thoughts. And from here I would like you to receive our affection, our recognition and, moreover, our firm expression of gratitude.

Your commitment to international missions is not alien to us. Your commitment to peace and everyone's security is tangible evidence of self-sacrifice, of a sense of duty and of a desire to serve, but also of a tried and tested sense of professionalism and know how. All these qualities, in addition to your proximity to the people, represent the finest qualities of our 21st Century armed forces, which are modern and capable, which carry out loyal and silent work in the service of our democracy.

At this time, and this is one of the key pillars of our foreign policy, you are deployed in far-off places, in countries that are sometimes not even present in our collective imagination. And you do this working to restore peace. You stand by the side of people who have suffered the consequences of conflicts, of misrule and of global terrorism.

You are there, on the front line, to also safeguard the security and prosperity of Spain and of your fellow countrymen.

In 2020, 8,120 servicemen - 7,490 men and 630 women - have complied with your duty abroad and you are the clearest example of our country's commitment to a more peaceful, stable and safer world.

And to achieve this, you have deliberately trained to be as efficient and effective as possible on the ground. And we know that you have achieved this. Your good work within such international organisations as the United Nations, the European Union and NATO, but, above, all, all your affection and respect for local people, bear witness to your already consolidated prestige.

Our servicemen are deployed in Mali, the Central African Republic, Somalia, Djibouti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Latvia and Colombia; sail the waters of the Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Oceans; fly over the African continent and contribute to scientific research in the Antarctic. Furthermore, and in the field of Defence Diplomacy, they have a presence in both Senegal and in Mauritania.

This whole important deployment is the best Spanish legacy to the world, and also the finest example of active multilateralism, which Spain advocates on the international stage. Thanks to your work, the men and women of Spain feel safer and the world is today a less dangerous place.

I also want my closing words to highlight your efforts abroad, particularly at such an important time of the year. And above all, allow them to serve to honour the 188 men and women who, over these 31 years of overseas missions, have given their lives defending Spain and world peace. We will always honour their memory and stand alongside their families.

Over this Christmas period, I know that you will feel the strength and the quality of the "military family" even more strongly. Allow all the men and women of Spain, even at a distance, to join with you and your families with a pride and a profound sense of gratitude.

We also give you an instruction: to look after yourselves and each other; to return home with the "noble satisfaction of having complied with your duty", a military maxim that undoubtedly represents all of you. You, the armed forces, are an example of effort, of resistance and of a scent for victory.

In my own name and on behalf of all of Spain, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2021.

Thank you very much.

(Transcript edited by the State Secretariat for Communication)

Non official translation