Señoras y señores:
¡Muchas gracias por la distinción!
Me alegro mucho de estar aquí.
Thank you very much for the honour you have shown me in presenting me with this order. I would particularly like to thank His Majesty the King, who has bestowed this honour upon me.
The order is an expression of the deep friendship our countries enjoy.
This friendship is based on common values, mutual trust and the firm desire to shape the future together.
Our societies are closely linked to one another:
Every year almost 10,000 students from both Spain and Germany get to know the other country by participating in exchange programmes. There are nearly 2000 cooperation agreements between German and Spanish universities. In 2012 more than 9 million German tourists went on holiday to Spain. More than 1100 German companies are active in Spain, thereby directly generating around 300,000 jobs in your country.
As you know, I am a great fan of Spain myself. Not only because of its rich culture and impressive scenery, but also because of its warm-hearted, open and genuine people.
In recent months Spanish citizens have demonstrated the strength of their determination to overcome the crisis. Thanks to the reforms you have introduced, Spain is now in a position to leave the European assistance programme.
This constitutes a great success both for Spain and for Europe.
Allow me to take the opportunity during this ceremony to congratulate you, Mr President, and the Spanish people on this achievement.
Spain has been a valued partner in Europe for many years. We are glad to have a partner like Spain.
Our countries are traditional and steadfast supporters of European integration.
En el mundo de mañana los Europeos solo juntos podremos hacer valer nuestra voz.
Somos una comunidad de destino y de valores y en el plano personal añado que soy y seguiré siendo un amigo fiable de España.
Thank you very much.