BUENOS AIRES – Spain’s King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia began their first state visit to Argentina on Monday with a message of total support from Spain for the economic reforms being carried out by President Mauricio Macri.
After visiting the monument to the hero of Argentine independence, Gen. Jose de San Martin, the monarchs were welcomed in a ceremony that took place at the Casa Rosada – the presidential residence – where they were received by Macri and his wife, Juliana Awada.
Macri, the first to take the floor, thanked the royal couple for their visit, which he interpreted as a sign of affection and, at the same time, of support for the “moment of change” that his country is experiencing.
The Argentine leader said that this period of change brings with it “deep transformations that are very demanding and require great effort,” recalling those changes undertaken by Spain when necessary and the positive results of which prove they were truly needed to achieve a better quality of life.
The king said that Spain has always supported Argentina “when times were difficult.”
“We’re very much aware of the economic situation Argentina has gone through and we support all the reform programs currently in effect,” the Spanish monarch said.
Macri and Felipe then moved to a separate meeting, where several officials from the two countries were present, including Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and his Argentine counterpart, Jorge Faurie, along with three more of his Cabinet colleagues, namely Finance Minister Nicolas Dujovne, Production and Labor Minister Dante Sica and Security Minister Patricia Bullrich.
According to the Argentine administration, the king expressed great interest in the progress of the negotiations to reach a commercial agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.
The king was also interested in the creation of the Forum for the Progress of South America (Prosur) as a new space for South American integration.
During his public speech, the Felipe said that his visit was also intended to provide continuity to the “excellent relationship” that unites the two countries and to promote the strategic partnership between Spain and Argentina.
At the same time, Queen Letizia and Awada were scheduled to converse about the first stage of infancy and rare diseases.
Later, after the two couples had lunch at the presidential residence in the town of Olivos, north of the capital, the king visited the building that houses the Argentine legislature and met with its leaders: Emilio Monzo and Federico Pinedo.
He then went to the Supreme Court to also meet with Chief Justice Carlos Rosenkrantz.
The first day of the Spanish monarchs’ visit will wrap up with a gala dinner offered by the Macri in honor of the royal couple at the Kirchner Cultural Center, where the king and queen will greet the individual guests before Macri and Felipe say a few words during the toast.
On Tuesday, the king will have a working breakfast with Argentine and Spanish business owners and executives and will give a speech at an event organized by the Cotec Foundation, dedicated to promoting innovation as an engine of economic and social development.
A conference with the Spanish community in Argentina, as well as a meeting between the queen and officials of the Ibero-American Rare Diseases Alliance, will lead to the final activity of the state visit: a reception offered by the monarchs in honor of Macri and his wife at a downtown Buenos Aires hotel.
On Wednesday, the royals will attend the inauguration of the 8th International Congress on the Spanish Language, to be held in the Argentine city of Cordoba through March 30.
The official visit is the first by a Spanish head of state to Argentina in almost 16 years, the last being that of King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia in November 2003.
It was the Argentine president himself who invited the royals to make the trip to Buenos Aires when he was in Spain in February 2017.
The last time Felipe was in Argentina was as Prince of Asturias in September 2013, when he headed a delegation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting in Buenos Aires that tried to salvage Madrid’s rejected candidacy as the site for the 2020 Olympic Games.