2016-05-10

H.M. Konungens tal vid Galamiddag i samband med Statsbesöket från Chile, tisdagen den 10 maj 2016

(Det talade ordet gäller)

Madame President,

Dear Guests,

It is an honour and sincere pleasure for the Queen and me to welcome you to Stockholm and the Royal Palace, on this first State Visit ever from the Republic of Chile.

With warm and lasting memories I recall the State Visit we paid to Chile 20 years ago, in 1996. The Queen and I were invited by President Eduardo Frei [-Ruiz Tagle], and together we experienced the beauty of your country, and the hospitality of your people.

I know that the Queen has special memories of a delightful visit to a school named Reina de Suecia, the Queen of Sweden. A name it was given when a group of Swedish entrepreneurs funded its reconstruction after a devastating earthquake.

However, my first visit to Chile was in 1994, when I took part in an international scout meeting. On that occasion, I had the opportunity to travel through some spectacular landscapes. The beautiful national park Torres del Paine, with geographical names such as Lago Nordenskjold and Lago Skottsberg, pointed out to me the early interest in Chile by Swedish scientists.

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More than 200 years ago, Bernardo O’Higgins fought for Chilean independence on the other side of the globe. During the same time period my ancestorMarshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte left France for Sweden. And the connection between Chile and Sweden goes almost as far back as then.

Because, as early as in 1818 the Swedish Government sent the Swedish trade agent, Captain Johan Adam Graaner, to the newly declared Republic of Chile.

His mission was to establish commercial ties between the two nations. Captain Graaner negotiated with the Chilean leader Bernardo O’Higgins himself, and as one result six Chilean students were offered scholarships to Uppsala University to study mining engineering.

I think one can say that our countries share long and close ties.

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Culture has also been an important component of Swedish–Chilean relations. In 1945, Gabriela Mistral became the first woman in Latin America to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was already then much appreciated here in Sweden through translations by the famous Swedish poet Hjalmar Gullberg. 

In 1971 our cultural bonds were strengthened once again when Pablo Neruda, one of Mistral’s students, also received the Nobel Prize in Literature. During our visit in 1996, the Queen and I had the pleasure to see his beloved Isla Negra, where our cherished Swedish singer Jenny Lind is represented among Neruda’s collection of figureheads.

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However, the ties between Sweden and Chile has been especially strong since the events of the 1970s, when many Chileans were forced to leave their country. Sweden came to be a safe haven for many of those who sought refuge.

The Swedish Ambassador to Chile, Harald Edelstam, played a crucial role in the aftermath of the military coup in 1973. He was an early proponent and symbol of what is known today as the “Responsibility to Protect”. His memorable acts contributed to saving many lives.

Today, as many as 60 000 people of Chilean origin live in Sweden. They have had a significant impact on the economic, social and cultural development of our country. And, they represent a dynamic and vigorous part of our society, adding to the rich cultural diversity of today's Sweden.

And what was started almost 200 years ago with six Chilean students, is still a vivid fact. Today, we witness a steady flow of academic exchange between our countries – in both directions – helping to sharpen the minds of both our nations’ young talents.

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Chile and Sweden also share a proud humanist tradition and a deep engagement with the United Nations and on global issues. Even if we both are relatively small countries, our nations’ impact in pursuing foreign policies based on respect for international law, human rights and gender equality has been significant for long.

We also strive for a free and open system of international trade, as just trade and commerce are strong driving forces in both our countries.

Today, the commercial ties between Chile and Sweden are solid and expanding. Our trade is often based on the common challenges, and opportunities, that lie in creating effective and sustainable management of our similar natural resources – forests, minerals and water.

For example, the explosives of Alfred Nobel, Swedish heavy machinery and the latest information and communication technologies are all necessary for mining both Chilean copper and Swedish iron ore.

And let me add, just as in the rest of the world, Chile’s exquisite wines are very popular here in Sweden.

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Madame President,

Although Chile and Sweden remain far apart geographically, the bonds between our nations make the distance seem smaller.

Our historical ties, together with many shared values and common experiences have brought us closer together. And I truly believe that our joint priorities today will contribute to enhance and strengthen the already excellent relations between our countries even more.

To you Madame President, and to the people of the Republic of Chile, I propose a toast for a healthy and prosperous future.

Skål!