Jump Main Menu. Go directly to the main content (Acces key S)

The Princess of Asturias Foundation

Sección de idiomas

Fin de la sección de idiomas


Sección de utilidades

Fin de la sección de utilidades

  • Síguenos en:
Start of Secondary Menu End of Secondary Menu

You are in:

  1. HM The King |
  2. Speeches


Start of main content

Speech by HRH The Prince of Asturias at the 2002 Prince of Asturias Awards Ceremony

It is an enormous joy to see how our Awards have become established and are more and more a cultural and social reality of the highest magnitude.

Many years have now gone by since we began, full of hope, to hold this ceremony, and it is an enormous joy to see how our Awards have become established and are more and more a cultural and social reality of the highest magnitude.

What was at the outset little more than a hopeful project and an obstacle-ridden challenge is now a major, well-established, prestigious event with ever-greater international resonance, which augurs it the brightest of futures.

Achieving such success, which I am well aware has been by no means easy, validates the philosopher´s conviction that our lives take on a deeper meaning when we strive to fulfil our dreams. For this reason I would like to reiterate my recognition of our patrons, of the members of the juries for the Awards and the people who have given over many hours of their lives to the Foundation with discretion and generosity.

I return to Asturias to relive all these sentiments once again, with the emotions of the home comer, of somebody returning to a land where affection and human warmth are never lacking. The people of Asturias have always known how to open themselves to the outside world, to establish dialogue, to lend themselves bravely to the noblest of causes. In the very special circumstances that bring us together today, they unite in their heart-felt, noble hospitality to welcome those arriving from so many parts of Europe and other continents to spend a memorable day with us. Asturias knows how much I appreciate and value this generous attitude toward the Awards that bear their name.

The beloved city of Oviedo is once again the forum where we reflect out loud about our deepest concerns, which are often the direct outcomes of the changes that throw the world into turmoil and alter it with uncontrollable force.

We aspire to making our Awards the voice of those who so often do not have that voice, the voice of the abandoned, of those who suffer injustice, of those who defend freedom and are persecuted for defending it. Their struggle, which will never fail to be our struggle, strengthens our faith that a fairer, more fraternal world, freed of terror and fanaticisms, is possible. We have no wish to turn our backs on hope; we wish to continue to believe in what the beautiful verse of the unforgettable Borges termed "the dawn that works marvels".

The roll call of this year´s award winners, like those of previous years, is a truly outstanding one. It vividly expresses the vocation at the heart of our Awards´ to be the very conscience of our times, a stimulus to creativity and a spur to the highest values. We wish them to serve as an example for society as a whole, but particularly for our younger generation, who are always in our thoughts.

The North American writer, Arthur Miller, the award winner for Letters, embodies in his very essence the ideas and values we strive to extol. Twentieth century theatre would be inconceivable without the awareness raising that the work of this exceptional playwright propounds.

"All my sons", "Death of a Salesman", "The Crucible", "A View from the Bridge", and "After the Fall" are examples of a work unmarked by the passage of time. His work has become classic and is staged time after time throughout the world´s theatres. His drama focuses in the main on the contemporary problems of the average American, the strains and discords between parents and children, social conflict, the strangleholds of persecution and the lack of freedom in environments dominated by narrow-mindedness and prejudice. Thus, his work also deals with universal, age-old issues and problems from a uncompromising stance that rejects the superficiality, intolerance, Puritanism and dogmatic beliefs that cause such devastation to the well being of society. His characters, so meek and so close to our own lives, convey their love for the sincere, morally acceptable facets of minor everyday events with an extraordinary psychological force.

This surprising ability to interpret both the society of his times and society throughout history, to take on the position of rebel with a profound sense of justice and to offer us enduring reflections hinting at enlightening solutions has made a lasting impression on several generations of Spaniards, who -particularly during the years of hardship- found intellectual stimulus and first-rate moral guidance in Miller´s theatre.

Just as Willy Lomax, the protagonist of Death of a Salesman, is painfully aware of the felling of the old oak trees in his street, so are we also profoundly moved by Miller´s unbreakable spirit. With the same nostalgia with which his memorable character evoked the Spring-time scent of the lime trees and acacias near his house, so are we also moved, and we admire the message of his work, which heralds a forthcoming new Spring, the advent of a time of hope.

An original German writer, the source of perceptive observations about Spain, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, has been given the Award for Communication and Humanities. The versatility and richness of his thought are hallmarks that set him apart in the contemporary European Arts field, With exceptional sensitivity and intellectual perception, Enzensberger writes poetry, essays, theatre and media articles founded upon a profound Humanistic education and an enormous capacity for observation and literary criticism,

Apart from targeting burning issues such as poverty, emigration, xenophobia, and racism, Ensensberger calls upon us to rise to the challenges that are upon us, such as the welcome new-found role of women in society, the possibility of a inter-racial breeding in a spirit of solidarity in Europe, the rational use of economic development, or the need for a new teaching methodology that appeals to children during their school years, so that they learn that only education and ongoing training will make them free.

To stimulate society with new ideas, to shake it out of the slightest tendency to drift along from lethargy and routine, to take poetry to the masses, to translate complicated scientific concepts into clearly understandable words, or to turn his caustic, sharp-witted humour on sectarianism and violent ideologies are all additional facets of Enzensberger´s work, which is replete with thought-provoking proposals for Europe and the world we would wish for.

On more than one occasion we have heard our Award winners in different fields warn us from this very stage of the threats and excesses of contemporary societies. But we have also been reminded in unforgettable words that we can, and indeed should, hold on to our hope that a balanced, rational use of science and technology will add to the well being of all Mankind and will facilitate man´s life on Earth, This is why the jury´s decision to confer the Award for Technical and Scientific Research on those who we know as "the Forefathers of Internet" -the North Americans Lawrence Roderts, Vinton Cerf and Robert Kahn and the Briton, Tim Berners-Lee- was such a wise one. With their talent and sacrifice, they have created the most immediate, imaginative and revolutionary communication and information medium in the history of Mankind. In a show of fairness, the jury also recognised the participation of thousands of people and of many organisations in this task when they bestowed the award.

The influence that Internet is having on the fields of culture, finance, the business world, education, scientific research and technology is a major one, because -as has already been said- one of its many hallmarks is an extraordinary capacity to distribute the power of information. According to its creators, Internet will still provide us with unthought-of, surprising applications, whereby many of the social changes to come about henceforth will be decisively and inevitably linked to the evolution and improvement of this new medium for universal communication.

We must ensure that such evolution is guided by ethics, equanimity, and justice so that the gap between some countries and others does not grow, so that peoples are nor separated more than they are now, so that the lives of human beings throughout the planet can continue to improve.

The British sociologist Anthony Giddens has been given the Award for Social Sciences. The Director of the prestigious London School of Economics, one of the major research centres and think tanks in the world -which Giddens has led to its greatest heights- is considered to be one of the most outstanding sociologists in the international field.

His work has been, and remains, one of the most influential of our times in its field, and is unquestionably the most widely read and quoted of his generation. He is also renowned for his innovative, perceptive observations, which transcend the borders of his science and touch upon the fields of history of thought, class structures, nationalisms, family relationships and political thought.

He is the author of numerous important studies that have been translated into thirty languages. His book, Sociology, has become an essential text in many of the world´s universities, Spanish ones amongst them. He is the master of generations of young sociologists, and has led them to see that some of the clearest aims of social science are to question dogma, appreciate cultural variety, and understand the workings of organisations, thereby to increase the possibilities of human freedom.

Anthony Giddens has rebuilt the classic tradition of sociology, moulding it masterfully to contemporary reality in a spectacular tour de force of synthesis. Yet the most influential part of his work is in how he has explained "reflexive modernity", that is, the hallmarks of our society and their main consequences. The indispensable work of Giddens contributes to our understanding of our world, accompanies and guides us, offering, in short, a radical reflection on what a better life and better society for all might be like as the twenty-first century dawns.

The corner stone of the cinema production of an exceptional North American, Woody Allen -who has been given the Award for the Arts- is an original, lively awareness of this new era straddling two centuries, and a nostalgia for a more mutually supportive, human and happier world, where joie de vivre, hope and illusions are ever-present.

Woody Allen, whose sensitivity and talent arouses universal admiration, is a genius who has managed to combine the roles of director, actor and film script writer in his art. Although he has modestly said that his talent is simply to make us laugh, we all know that his films have a far wider and profounder meaning than just humour, even though the latter is one of the hallmarks of his cinema production. We perceive the meaning in his films -which are anguishing and stimulating at one and the same time- of life and death, love and religion, psychoanalysis and different art forms, the role of women and the witty, continual jibes at a society that turns its back on essential, simple human values by the day.

At the same time, noble feelings such as tenderness and modesty, subtle intelligence and cordiality, emotions, pity, besides a wealth of irony continually intertwine in the life of the main character of his films: an original character, impossible to categorise, who lives immersed in a time of urgency, an unpredictable contradictory time, which he somehow manages to bustle his way through with a sensitivity and humanity that is replete with dignity.

Woody Allen has set his film world in an emblematic metropolis of our times that is wounded right now by fanaticism New York City which he has shown us through more humane eyes but even more than that, through the eyes of poetry. Deep down in his work there is a profound criticism of the city and the society his characters inhabit, and yet the poetic atmosphere that pervades the scenes of his films make us contemplate his world with feelings of tenderness and a sense of humour. The European public have felt this intensely, and for them the cinema of our times cannot be conceived of without the work and figure of Woody Allen.

Our Foundation has always been particularly responsive to efforts to defend the environment, and has always made highlighting its benefits for Humanity one of its concerns. This is why we feel great satisfaction at this year´s Award for International Cooperation going to the Scientific Committee for Antarctic Research. The representatives of this organisation with us today are a shining example of the fact that generous agreements guided by the general interests of Mankind can still be reached.

The Committee was founded to coordinate scientific research in Antarctica and to preserve this fragile, mysterious continent as a land for peace science, and defends the interests of the whole planet in its work. The signing of the Antarctica Treaty was an important step forward, intended to establish measures to be taken impervious to self-interested sharing out of land. Saving Antarctica from the avaricious exploitation of its resources and jealously guarding it for scientific studies and for peaceful progress are some of the highest aims that the international scientific community can pursue and achieve.

Spain is one of the 32 countries running research programmes in Antarctica, and has two science bases there, the Juan Carlos I and the Gabriel de Castilla, alongside two ships, one a research vessel, the Hespérides and the other a support ship, the Las Palmas.

We hope that today´s recognition of such ideals from Spain also serves as a call to highlight the many values that are encapsulated in the work being done right now in that beautiful, fascinating white continent. We hope this award also helps governments and international bodies to dispose of the resources to carry on work that is so crucial to the future our planet.

The men and women who are working tirelessly at the Antarctic research stations are the vanguard of a project that is fundamental to the lives of those that follow us in Mankind´s centuries-old journey. Rarely has the work of just a handful of scientists safeguarded such a noble and essential cause in such an urgent and valuable way.

Music, according to an age-old definition of some beauty, is the food of love and the most sublime of sentiments. It has brought together the outstanding Argentine performer and orchestra director of Jewish roots, Daniel Barenboim, and the American lecturer and writer of Palestinian descent, Edward Said, in a valuable project in favour of coexistence and peace, which has earned them the Award for Concord.

Edward Said has taught us through his profound literary, historical and political analysis that we can only find a communion of projects, ideas and hopes to fortify Man in his quest for happiness by knowing ourselves and others, by rejecting ingrained ideas that have sometimes served only to add to the confusion, and by looking within ourselves without facile self indulgence.

Daniel Barenboim exemplifies in his person and his attitude the old, oft-repeated idea that music is the universal language par excellence, helping to break down barriers, eliminate geographical barriers, and unit different races and mentalities; for this reason it is an essential aid on the road towards concord. For in no way can we feel ourselves to be either responsible for, or the heirs to, the errors of the past; nor can we futilely prolong their effects. This is why the examples of Edward Said and Daniel Barenboim point a way forward, which we should not flag in pursuing.

Both have striven to find -in dialogue and humanism- the strength to maintain their belief in the possibility of mutual understanding between men. They have worked with tenacity and courage, recently setting up an orchestra made up for the most part of young Jews and Palestinians. It is a joint project in hope, art and expectations, which was, in fact, welcomed just last summer in our beloved Andalucía, a land forged by the merging of peoples and cultures, and thus so sensitive to the values of concord and true peace.

At a time when Christians, Jews and Muslims lived in harmony, the greatest Sephardic poet of the time, in luminous Granada, penned equally illuminating verse on friendship and fraternity, and the pain of its absence:

If our hearts did not expect you to return
Death would have taken us when we parted

By quoting the symbolic, moving lyricism of this poem, we celebrate that art in one of its most beautiful forms has united Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said; for we believe, as does our much admired winner from last year George Steiner, that music can transform space, density and even the course of the world. We wish them ongoing success in their ambitions for concord -which we all share- in a world torn by its past and so wounded by its present.

The Brazilian Football Squad has won the Award for Sports. The prize was established to extol the benefits of sport for man and to reward those who not only rise to sporting excellence but are also exemplary in their moral values. On this occasion it highlights the past merits of Brazil´s footballers and the social importance that football has in their country,

In Brazil, football is indeed a phenomenon that exceeds the bounds of sport. Capable of expressing feelings in a unique way, playing football has become part of the Brazilian identity. It is also a passion that they share. Such characteristics are common to many other countries yet are particularly marked in Brazil, where football boosts the self-esteem and dignity of a whole nation, as President Fernando Enrique Cardoso has pointed out

If sport channelled in the right directions is always particularly beneficial and effective, this is even more the case when it is played in communities suffering high levels of social alienation and isolation. It makes a major contribution to social integration and the education of children and youth, who often find in sport the opportunity to free themselves for ever of a future that is threatened by illness, poverty and social upheaval.

The first stages of the XXI century and the third millennium of our era have ushered in a fascinating world that is witnessing change at breakneck speed, of unforeseeable results, plagued by uncertainty and risks. Yet it is also replete with opportunities. We are witnessing undreamt-of breakthroughs in Science, sublime acts of artistic creation and heroic acts of solidarity that transcends frontiers. Parallel to all this, and clearly global in their dimensions, poverty, hunger, illness, and rampant mass migration all stand out alongside ignorance, fanaticism and the reign of terror in new, diverse and destructive guises. Mankind faces these problems, and solving them is one of the great challenges of our times.

And yet, as is always the case, the doors of hope are still open, for history teaches us that however enormous tragedies, failures, and difficulties may be, they have not stopped Man progressing towards a better world. Such a world will inevitably need to be ruled by a global ethics that respects cultural diversity and unites peoples around sincerely shared, common values.

Throughout this speech I have used one of the most beautiful words that our language has coined hope. I will invoke the word once again to thank our award winners for attending this event. Their lives and work inspire a deep feeling of esperanza in us. They also symbolise the yearning for concord, cooperation and solidarity that our Awards encapsulate. This does not only refer to the Awards that carry these words in their title but also to the others, for sport, the arts, scientific research, literature, or social sciences are all born of the need to communicate with and understand our fellow men, to share feelings, experiences and projects. In short, they are activities born to unite, not to force apart. Great human undertakings have blossomed out of union and cooperation. Union is not the same as uniformity; it is rather the sum total of variety, the harmony of different efforts, of contrasting ideas that coexist, blend and mutually enrich.

If a single little boy or a single little girl somewhere in the world, in some forgotten village in the mountains of some distant country, watches this ceremony and feels the urge to one day be as generous, as brilliant, and as wise as those who honour us by accepting our awards, then our efforts and dedication will have acquired meaning. We could then state that this has undoubtedly been a beautiful evening, an evening replete with hope.

Thank you.

End of main content

Sección de utilidades

Fin de la sección de utilidades