President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Mayor! Representatives from municipal districts! Members of the municipal association! Ladies and Gentlemen!
I would like to thank you and all our Spanish friends for such a warm welcome. It is a clear sign of the friendship and warmth in Russian-Spanish relations.
These feelings are mutual. They are imposed through the great interest Russian citizens feel toward Spain, one of the most remarkable and alluring countries in the world – an interest in your unique culture, which is woven together from the traditions of different peoples, forming, in all its cohesion, an amazing unity. This affinity results in part from a good knowledge of modern Spain.
These positive attitudes toward one another can truly be felt here, in your magnificent capital. You have a saying that the only place better than Madrid is heaven. And any Spaniard will add, “Because from heaven, you can get a good view of the city.”
Madrid is one of the brightest symbols of the multifaceted images of the “Land of the Evening Star,” a participant in its rich history, which has influenced the development of all human civilization. It is enough to recall the era of great geographical discoveries, the names of famous scientists, musicians, artists, and writers. The Spanish language itself seems as if it were created for a lofty poetic style. It is expressive, melodic, and emotional. Perhaps this is why the ancient land of Iberia was so rich in writers and poets whose work is well-known in our country.
It is comforting to know that the incredibly rich history of Russian-Spanish relations has left its trace on the maps of our cities, as Mr Mayor has just mentioned. One of the most romantic parts of Madrid – the Parque Fuente del Berro – has a statue of one of Russia’s greatest poets, Pushkin. Recently, the Spanish capital acquired a monument in honour of an outstanding Soviet space program designer: Sergey Pavlovich Korolev, as was also mentioned by Mr Mayor. In turn, for two decades, residents of Moscow have admired a bronze statue of Miguel de Cervantes, and Saint-Petersburg is decorated by a monument to Agustin de Betancourt, who made a great contribution to the architecture of this northern Russian city.
Ladies and gentlemen! It is well-known that a capital city is the “face” of any country. And I have seen that Madrid is not only a concentration of museums, palaces, and monuments, but also a future-oriented centre of Spain. This becomes clear through the dynamic development of your city and the rapid pace of life of Madrid’s inhabitants – energetic, business-minded, and unfailingly kind-hearted people.
It is a great honour to accept the Golden Key to Madrid. I see it not only as a traditional Spanish form of welcome, but also as a sincere and profound demonstration of respect toward Russia, and an aspiration to establish the closest possible ties between our peoples.
I accept this key from your hands, Mr Mayor, as an important symbol and with a feeling of genuine gratitude. And I hope that the gates to our cities, much like our hearts, will always be open to one another. Thank you.