The King of Spain, Felipe VI, concluded Friday a day full of events prior to the official start of the 28th Ibero-American Summit in Santo Domingo, in which he recalled the challenges facing the region, and called for a strengthening of relations between countries and with the European Union (EU).
The Spanish monarch had a busy agenda, with bilateral meetings, such as the one with the President of Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou, and the President of the Dominican Republic, the host country of the summit, Luis Abinader.
He also met with a representation of young Ibero-American leaders, with whom he discussed the future of the region, and took part in an event to support the Ibero-American Disability Programme, aimed at the inclusion of this sector of the population, which represents around 15% of the Latin American population.
Felipe VI then attended the closing ceremony of the 14th Ibero-American Business Meeting, in the port of Sansouci in Santo Domingo, together with President Abinader and the presidents of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez, and the Ibero-American Secretary General, the Chilean Andrés Allamand.
In his speech, the King of Spain encouraged the "continued strengthening" of ties between the Ibero-American countries in order to "take advantage together of all the opportunities" offered by this space, a "great project that requires a common strategic vision and the greatest commitment from all".
The challenges facing the region "justify, even more if possible, the need for this type of meeting to share the concerns affecting our societies and thus seek recommendations that will lead us to implement joint measures", he said.
And in order to overcome these challenges, the monarch highlighted the importance of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union in the second half of the year.
He also highlighted the holding of the EU-CELAC summit in Brussels in July, "at which a portfolio of strategic investment projects for the region will be presented, which will have the backing of the EU and its Member States".
In addition, among the priorities of the Spanish Presidency of the EU, he pointed out the support and greater impetus for the signing of the pending bilateral agreements aimed at liberalising trade and establishing a framework for strategic relations between the EU and Latin America.
Among these agreements, the Spanish monarch referred to the Global Agreement with Mexico and the Association Agreements with Chile, Central America and Mercosur.
After closing the Ibero-American Business Meeting, Felipe VI was received along with the rest of the participants in the Summit by the Dominican President, his wife, First Lady Raquel Arbijos, and Allamand at the foot of the Ozama Fortress, the first permanent military structure in the Americas.
The official inauguration of the regional meeting took place in these historic surroundings, which will have its most important day tomorrow with the holding of the plenary sessions.
The Spanish monarch's day concluded with a dinner for heads of state and government at the Casa de Bastidas, in the colonial area of Santo Domingo, a historic building whose construction dates back to the 15th century.
This Saturday, after the plenary sessions and the official closing of the Summit, he will hold a bilateral meeting with the President of Costa Rica, Rodrigo Chaves, before flying back to Spain.
This is the fifth Ibero-American Summit in which Felipe VI will participate as King of Spain.