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The Princess of Asturias Foundation

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Laureates  

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Yitzhak Rabin and Yaser Arafat

Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation 1994

Yitzhak Rabin

His Royal Highness,
Her Majesty the Queen,
My fellow recipients of this distinguished prize,

We have almost exhausted all the words in the lexicon of peace. When the festivals draw to their end, after all the prizes have been awarded and the trumpets remain silent, we must return to the harsh reality of everyday life.

We, Chairman Arafat and myself, are trying to change this reality in the Middle East. We have to work sometimes against human nature which seeks vengeance. We try to turn foe to friend. We try to move the hands of time forward and above all not to look back.

For behind us, we have left a hundred years soaked in blood. We have left graveyards. We have left bereaved families. We have left the disabled in body and soul. We have left a conflict which no-one believed, and still many do not believe, can be brought to an end. I believe that we can live another way.

I am convinced that Chairman Arafat is of the same mind -that man can live in another way. Enough of hostility which knows no end. If we did not believe this, we would not stand here together this evening and be awarded this distinguished prize -a prize which we receive gratefully on behalf of both of our peoples and for their sake.

Tomorrow is Friday. In the mosques, moslems will pray at noon. In the synagogues, Jews will welcome the sabbath. We are here on the stage before you in Spain and we pray for those worshippers of both religions. We pray for their peace and welfare, we pray that the peace process that we embarked upon over a year ago, will succeed. It is in its early stages -vulnerable, fragile, and we have to protect it, for the alternative is too harsh to even contemplate.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

From here, from Spain, from Madrid, from the Madrid Conference, we have set out on this journey, from which there can be no return, and which we shall continue, despite the many enemies of peace. We knew that a hundred years of bloodshed would not be wiped out by a single handshake. We knew that bitter memories do not vanish with a smile before a camera. But we did not believe just how bitter would be those enemies of peace.

We shall fight and prevent them from continuing to carry out bloodshed, death, hatred, suffering and agony -and we simply want it to be otherwise. We shall continue to seek a life of harmony, a life of equality, a life of peace.

We hope that all peoples of the civilized world, including the Spanish people, will come to our assistance. Poverty and famine are also the strident enemies of our common dream. All assistance to the peoples seeking peace -the Israeli and the Palestinian people- is a blessing for us all. An investment in peace is an investment in life.

We have much yet to achieve. There are tough moments -moments that border on despair. It is not easy to continue when you see peoples bodies blown apart by a terrorist bomb. We are determined to continue in our quest for peace, as we look at the smiles on faces of children, both in Jerusalem and in Jericho; we are determined when we hear the applause of our peoples encouraging us onwards to continue both in our homes and here in Spain.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we shall continue.

This strip of land in Spain has known wars, battles and bloodshed and has lived now for generations in peace. The people see a blessing in their lives. Here from Asturias, we return tomorrow to our different homes, to our different prayers, to our mosque and to our synagogues but also to our common dream.

The Spanish Author Cervantes once wrote of soldiers that have fallen in war:

"...The greatest display of valour and daring to be found in all the hazards of war. Blessed were the times which lacked the dreadful fury of these diabolical engines and the artillery..."

May we blessed by such times and may we have the bravery of these before us who fell for their country, to embrace the peace at hand.

This prize recognizes their immense sacrifice and for that I thank those that decided to reward this prize to me on behalf of my country.

Yaser Arafat

Your Majesty the Queen
Your Royal Highness
Your Excellencies

First of all, allow me to express my happiness for being among you in the Land of the Kingdom of Spain, for whom we have all the respect and appreciation, to the King, Government, and the People, and with whom we are tied by the strongest friendship and brotherhood relations, as a sign of the correlation of our cultures and civilizations between our two Peoples.

I would also like to express my pleasure and pride for being particularly in this beautiful City of Oviedo, and among the people of the friendly district of Asturias, which always expressed their support and understanding for the Palestinian People and their just cause. It is my honour, and from this stand, in the name of the Palestinian People, to extend the sincere verses of appreciation to his Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias Prince Philip, to the Government, and its friendly people.

Furthermore, I would like in this occasion, to express my gratitude and thankfulness to the members of the Committee who granted me this Prize.

Your Majesty the Queen,
Your Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies,

Your decision to grant Mr. Rabin and I, the Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation for the year 1994, it is a reflection of the concern and determination of the Kingdom of Spain, this friendly Kingdom, to reinforce the chances of Global Peace which would enable the whole of Humanity to live in peace, security, and prosperity.

It is not coincidental that the International Peace Conference was first held in Madrid because of your continuous support for this process by all methods and at all levels.

Your Royal Highness, I would like to thank you, hereby, for granting me this Prize of which I am proud of.

I accept this Prize as a gracious gesture for the Palestinian People, their martyrs, the injured, the detainees and all those who contributed in the making of the Peace of the Braves, for the future of our children and theirs, so as to enable them to live in security, peace, and stability in the homeland of peace, the Holy Land.

I consider this Prize, a great support for the genuine efforts we exert for the enhancement of a just and comprehensive peace in the whole region, based on friendly neighbourhood, peaceful coexistence and cooperation; this peace shall guarantee security, future and the rights, for all the nations of the region, in general, and will guarantee for the Palestinian People to practice their legitimate National rights beginning from the right to self determination, and the right to enjoy sovereignty over its territories including the Holy sites, and the Holy Arab Jerusalem, along with the implementation of all Security Council resolutions starting with 242 and 338 upon which the whole peace process is based.

Your Majesty the Queen,
Your Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies & Gentlemen,

Despite all the severe problems and obstacles with which the Palestinian National Authority is facing, especially those involving the reconstruction of the infrastructure which has been completely destroyed during the occupation, we have been able to set the basis of the National Authority, and the governmental institutions and ministries, all of which have started carrying out their duties and responsibilities in regulating and fulfilling the daily needs of the Palestinian citizens, implementing their future plans and programs, in addition to the enormous efforts in maintaining security and order for the establishment of a democratic and civic society.

Here we state again that the choice of the Palestinian People is Peace, as a strategic goal. Furthermore, it reflects its genuine desire of laying the foundation of a just peace, and the determination of our people towards the self-building process.

Ladies & Gentlemen, we look forward to the future, with hearts filled with hope and persistence to make this land, The Holy Land, an oasis for peace, freedom, democracy, stability, and prosperity.

One of the most important means towards the reinforcement of the Peace Process, and guaranteeing its continuation so as to achieve its goals, is by enabling the Palestinian People to choose their representatives and constituencies, freely, through an honest election process, under International supervision so as to give those representatives the opportunity to carry out their duties and responsibilities, and to deal with the difficult tasks awaiting them.

The electoral due process is closely linked to the hand-over and the early empowerment of the remaining fields of responsibilities on the rest of the Palestinian Territories. From that point, arises the urgent and the basic need for the completion and implementation of the DOP and the subsequent Cairo Agreement, in order to spread the Palestinian National Authority's apparatus in all the Palestinian territories.

The special and unique status that we hold for Jerusalem, Palestinians, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, urges me to call on all the parties concerned, to make this sacred City, a city for the enlightenment of peace, hope, and co-existence.

The advancement on the Peace Process must reflect on the daily lives of our People. In addition to the fact that it is crucial for the Palestinian citizens to feel the change in order to increase their faith and support to the Peace Process.

Ladies & Gentlemen, we have great hope in the World Bank to take the initiation and to be up to their moral, political, and human responsibilities towards our people, who have suffered and still are suffering greatly in severe and cruel living conditions. Furthermore, we call on the World Bank to increase their efforts in accelerating the fulfilment of our People's basic needs, to implement the projects and programs that would insure the reconstruction of the infrastructure for the sake of insuring a better life for the Palestinian People who are leading for a prosperous, flourishing, and stable future for the generations to come.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a very basic right for our people to live in security, like all other World Nations who together must coexist on the basis of justice, Democracy, equality, national dignity and humanitarianism under a genuine peace on the land of Palestine, the land of peace.

The International Community headed by the Co-Sponsors of the Peace Process, the United States and Russia, are required to push forward the peace process by eliminating all the obstacles that face the peace process that are being continuously created in the face of the peace process.

Moreover, the accurate and substantive implementation of what has been agreed upon in the DOP, and Cairo is the only correct method towards the achievement of peace.

Your Majesty the Queen,
Your Royal Highness,
Your Excellencies,

I would like to thank you from the depth of my heart on behalf of my name, and on behalf of the Palestinian People.

We pledge to you all, that we will continue with the Peace Process, the peace of the Braves, in the land of peace, the Holy Land in Palestine.

Thank You.

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