You are here

Spain 'strong supporter of UNRWA, Palestinian cause' — ambassador

By Mohammad Ghazal - Oct 13,2018 - Last updated at Oct 13,2018

Aránzazu Bañón Dávalos

AMMAN — Ensuring livelihood to Palestinian refugees is and will remain a clear priority until a fair solution to the refugee question is achieved, Spain’s Ambassador in Amman Aránzazu Bañón Dávalos said in an interview with The Jordan Times on the occasion of Spain’s national day, which the embassy will mark on Sunday.

“Consistently with our position and commitment to the Middle East Peace Process, we have been traditionally a strong political and financial supporter of UNRWA. Spain has publicly expressed deep concern about the critical financial situation of the agency and its impact on proper mandate delivery and provision of essential services as health, education or housing for so many Palestinian refugees,” the ambassador said, noting that, during his attendance of the donors' meeting in New York on the margins of the 73 UNGA last September, Spain's foreign minister announced that Spain will double its contribution to UNRWA this year.  

"Spain´s financial contribution to UNRWA since 2001 amounts to around $160 million.  We are starting to recover from the economic and financial crisis and this means we will be able to step up our cooperation,” the diplomat said, noting that Spain and Jordan see "eye to eye" regarding the centrality of the Palestinian issue and the need for a two-state solution.

"We firmly believe that only the two-state solution can create a lasting peace; as it addresses the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people to statehood; and of the people of Israel to live in peace and security with their neighbours within internationally recognised borders,” she continued.

She said like the EU, Spain's stance on Jerusalem has been and remains clear.

“We do not recognise actions aimed at unilaterally altering the status of Jerusalem that should be decide through final status negotiations between the parties. We very much respect and cherish the role that His Majesty King Abdullah plays as Custodian of the Holy Places of Jerusalem that is instrumental to maintaining the status quo of the city… Beyond the international legal role attributed to Jordan in this regard, the Kingdom´s authority emanates also from the values of dialogue, tolerance and moderation that it embodies,” Dávalos said.

Since establishing diplomatic relations in 1947, Jordan and Spain enjoy deeply rooted relations based on mutual trust and understanding. 

“Certainly, they are solidly cemented on the close and affectionate ties that bind our two royal families, but they are also sustained by the fact that Spain and Jordan are on the same page regarding many issues," she pointed out.

“Unfortunately, Spain has suffered terrorism during its recent history and gathered a lot of experience in confronting these threats both domestically and internationally.  We have learned the importance of the victims and their testimonies when it comes to raising awareness against fanatic and blind violence and Spain is an active and committed member in the international community in the fight against terrorism,” the ambassador added, commending Jordan's role in this regard.

“Our relations in the field on defence are also excellent," Dávalos said, citing the 2002 bilateral agreement that entails regular high level contacts and training programmes.

One of the most competitive in the world, the Spanish model of sustainable tourism makes it the second most visited country in the world, and, she said, "very well placed to share our experience with third countries".  

“Jordan has an outstanding potential to develop the tourism sector in a sustainable way with a future-oriented vision including the use of new technologies, the concept of smart cities etc.  We have already worked with the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities and provided technical assistance to expand the touristic offer in Jordan,” she noted, referring to a steady increase in Spanish visitors to Jordan. Last year, more than 17,000 Spaniards travelled to Jordan, rising from 11, 800 the year before, a 40 per cent increase.

“Spain has been providing humanitarian assistance to refugees, supporting the protection mechanisms and carrying out basic health projects and special attention has been given to the most vulnerable refugees,” the ambassador said, voicing admiration for Jordan's decision to provide unconditional refuge to thousands of Syrian civilians.

“In partnership with the EU delegation, we are closely collaborating with municipalities, severely affected by the influx of refugees, to provide quality public services. The assistance has been provided through the Spanish Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) using different modalities, above all grants and technical assistance,” she concluded.

60 users have voted.


Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.