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Spanish ambassador touts his country’s deep-rooted ties with Jordan

By Saeb Rawashdeh - May 12,2016 - Last updated at May 12,2016

Spanish Ambassador to Jordan Santiago Cabanas Ansorena delivers a lecture in Amman on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Arab Thought Forum)

AMMAN — The link between Spain and the Arab world dates back to the time of Andalusia and Muslim conquests of the Iberian Peninsula, according to Spanish Ambassador to Jordan Santiago Cabanas Ansorena.

Delivering a lecture on “Spanish-Arab Relations: Spanish-Jordanian Friendship as a sample” on Wednesday, Cabanas Ansorena said the Spanish national identity was formed by centuries of Arab rule of the Iberian Peninsula. 

“Relations between [the] Muslim and Christian populations of that time were marked by interdependence and mutual respect, and populations interacted intensely,” the diplomat emphasised.

Such a symbiosis created the exceptionality of the Spanish national identity which absorbed the best from both sides, he added.

“We are the southern frontier of Europe to Africa,” Cabanas Ansorena stressed, “but we feel privileged because such a position enriches us.”

Spain spent the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries exploring the American continents, diverting attention and energy towards newly acquired colonies while partly overlooking northern Africa and the Arab world.

At the beginning of the 19 century, however, interest in the Arab world was revived by works of different Spanish travellers, explorers, Orientalists and Franciscan missionaries, according to Cabanas Ansorena.

At present, the pillars of Spanish foreign policy remain grounded in Europe, the Arab world and Latin America, he explained.

The milestone visit of His Majesty King Abdullah I to Spain in 1949 was the first trip to Europe by a Jordanian king and initiated “very successful” Jordanian-Spanish ties on many levels, including very friendly and cordial relations between the two royal families, the ambassador said.

In the introduction of the lecture, Mohammad Abu Hammour, secretary general of the Arab Thought Forum, the event’s organiser, said Jordan and Spain established ties in 1946, and their relations “have always been characterised by efficiency and interaction”.

“Jordan is an example of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and moderation in the region and Spain firmly backs Jordan in handling the Syrian crisis,” Cabanas Ansorena said, adding that “Spain steadily supports all Arab causes, particularly the Palestinian cause.”

Throughout decades of the political isolation of Franco’s Spain by the international community, the diplomat continued, the focus of foreign policy was on Latin America and the Arab world, the ambassador noted. 

“We offered stipends for thousand of Arab students, particularly Jordanians and Palestinians, to study at Spanish universities,” Cabanas Ansorena said.

The Arab world stood by Spain on many occasions, and Spanish diplomacy has supported Arab countries in times of crisis, he added.

 

“All political parties in the Spanish parliament, who differ almost on every question, firmly support two things: [the] fight against gender violence and the Palestinian cause.”

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