On January 16, 2012, His Majesty King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain along with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia of Asturias welcomed French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Zarzuela Palace in Madrid.
During the visit President Sarkozy was awarded Spain’s highest honor, The Order of the Golden Fleece, for his “…cooperation in the fight against the armed Basque separatist group ETA.” During the ceremony President Sarkozy gave a speech in which he stated:
I convey my pride and that of all France, for having been in recent years, with the Spanish people to defend the rule of law against terrorism and to eradicate the blackmail, extortion, assault and murder. In this moment, my thoughts turn to the many victims of decades of violence. Thinking the first to them, is what I wanted-all the French Government to spare no effort in helping Spain to permanently close the bloody chapter of terrorism ETA.
I want to reassure you, Majesty, and the President Mariano Rajoy, the total commitment, consistent and seamless, of France with Spain in the fight against terrorism in all its forms. There are no more Pyrenees in the fight against terrorism. On both sides of our border is a single determination and the same objective: to put a definitive end to the senseless violence.
For his part, His Majesty stressed that “…we are committed to Europe and we are very aware of the fundamental importance of Franco-Spanish cooperation in the project of European integration in all its facets and dimensions.”
His Majesty also noted that President Sarkozy and France, in its relationship with Spain, has “…consistently contributed, effective and generous to fight terrorism while taking victims as North and the end of your solidarity which leads to a strong and effective partnership the largest political, judicial and police between our two countries to end terrorist violence.” As a Knight of the Golden Fleece, “…we recognize as the most representative of a great nation and neighboring friend who has ceaselessly promoted closer ties between our two countries in all fields.”
Prior to the presentation of the Order of the Golden Fleece, His Majesty King Juan Carlos I held a private meeting with President Sarkozy. Later in the afternoon, His Majesty and Queen Sofia of Spain along with Their Royal Highnesses Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia hosted a luncheon in honor of President Sarkozy.
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Source and photo courtesy of Casa de Su Majestad el Rey