Her Majesty Queen Sofía presents the 1st Spain-India Council Prize to conductor Zubin Mehta at a ceremony in Valencia in May 2012
South Asia

South Asia plays a key role in the "Asian century"; the region has the largest economically active population in the world. At present, it is attempting to improve quality of life through accelerated economic growth, foreign trade, social progress and cultural development.

Spain has included South Asia within the parameters of foreign policy with increasingly closer and more active ties. The main regional intergovernmental organization is the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) established in December 1985 and comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Relations with the Republic of India

Diplomatic relations between Spain and India were established in 1956 with the opening of a resident Embassy in New Delhi in 1958. The Republic of India (in Hindi, Bhārat Gaṇarājya) is the seventh largest country in the world, with a system of parliamentary democracy that makes it the most populous democracy on the planet.

2016 marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries; an event with was accompanied by an intense programme of bilateral exchanges. The visit of the Prime Minister of India to Spain in May 2017 concluded with the signing of an Association Agreement for Peace, Growth and Innovation which contains a roadmap for bilateral relations. The 13th EU-India Summit, held in March 2016, established the roadmap for the EU and India for the next five years. Its goals included greater cooperation in the areas of energy, climate and water management and urban development along with a partnership for migration and mobility.

Spain organises its economic and commercial activities in India through a Comprehensive Market Development Plan, the last update to which, in 2015, aims to improve our market share, drive Spanish industrial expansion in India and establish positions in this country ahead of a future Free Trade Agreement between the EU and India while also fostering better knowledge of our technology sectors and opportunities for Indian investment in Spain.

Spain considers relations with India to be of the utmost importance; it is a country whose contribution to security and stability in South Asia is fundamental. From the international perspective, Spain and India frequently share similar points of view on important matters, having also exchanged reciprocal support in favour of our respective candidacies to a number of international forums.

Since 2009, the Spain India Council Foundation has organised meetings and seminars, prizes and visitor programmes with the aim of strengthening the ties between both societies. These forums help create networks of people, institutions and companies committed to the development of bilateral relations and a deepening of mutual knowledge from civil society. The excellent work of this Foundation is recognised in the Partnership Agreement of 2017.
 

Relations with the Republic of Afghanistan

For more than thirteen years, Spain has maintained a firm commitment to the stability of Afghanistan, pivotal to the sustainable development and prosperity of the entire region. Between 2001 and 2004 Spain participated in the ISAF mission under the command of NATO with the presence of more than 21,000 troops and member of our Armed Forces with the aim of guaranteeing the security and training of the Afghan armed forces and security forces.

Since 2014, Spain has also participated in the NATO Resolute Support Mission, the objective of which is to assist, train and advise Afghan institutions. It is a task in which around 13,000 troops from 42 countries are involved. The Spanish forces currently deployed in the country deliver training, advice and assistance to the domestic Afghan logistics bodies, the Afghan National Special Operations Command and a Special Operations Battalion.

Similarly, there have also been major efforts in the area of development aid in the same period, making Afghanistan a priority country for many years in terms of our development aid to Asia. Between 2005 and 2015, the AECID designated more than 500 million euros to important projects, primarily through the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Barghdis Province, but also through contributions to multilateral funds and mechanisms to assist the country.

Thanks to the financial and human efforts of Spanish cooperation, communication infrastructure (airports, roads) was built, the Province was provided with a fleet of machinery for public works and new water, sanitation and electricity distribution structures, non-existent until then, were built. The health sector is also one of the most important areas, with the refurbishment, extension and equipping of the Qala-i-Nao Provincial Hospital, the construction of 7 rural clinics and the setting up and management of a Matrons' School and a Nursing School. The work carried out by Spain in the area of rural development, training and education, the extension of irrigation and the establishment of an Agricultural Education Centre also stands out.

After the completion of the ISAF mission, Spain transferred the management of these projects to the Afghan authorities. Our commitment to the country and the efforts made, both on the part of our Armed Forces and Security Forces and on the part of AECID personnel has allowed Spain to remain a strong partner in the development and stability of Afghanistan. At present, Spain remains involved in the country through the NATO Resolute Support Mission, but also through active participation in political forums and regional and international conferences supporting the national peace and reconciliation process allowing for an end to the violence and the stability of the country as essential prerequisites for the sustainable and inclusive development of Afghanistan and of the region as a whole.

 

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