Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to join you for this signing ceremony.
For a global organization such as the United Nations, the ability to communicate clearly, quickly and around the clock is crucial. For our peacekeeping operations, communications can be the difference between life and death.
That is why the United Nations General Assembly recently approved the establishment of a new global telecommunications facility for peacekeeping operations, to be built in Valencia.
With its proposal for the facility, the Government of Spain has shown once again its generosity and global citizenship.
Indeed, since joining the United Nations in 1955, Spain has been an important and dedicated member. You have supported the United Nations financially. You have contributed troops, police and civilian personnel for peacekeeping missions. And you have made your technical expertise available for development and other pursuits.
This facility is yet another manifestation of your Government's commitment to international cooperation for the common good.
The satellite and land-based telecommunications capacity that it will provide will complement our existing infrastructure in Brindisi, Italy. It will reduce the very real risks associated with depending on a single hub. It will ensure uninterrupted voice, video and data services to United Nations operations. Most of all, it will help us help people in dire need throughout the world.
United Nations personnel from the Department of Field Support are working with engineers and other Spanish officials on pre-construction activities. Telecommunications operations are expected to begin in approximately 18 months.
I would like to commend the hospitality and professionalism of the local officials and representatives from the Government of Spain with whom we have been working. Their diligence has ensured the smooth completion of all the preliminary activities associated with establishing this facility.
My colleagues and I look forward to working with you in the coming months and years. We also look forward to a long and productive relationship with the local community in Quart de Poblet. And I myself look forward to visiting it once it is operational, since that was not possible during this visit.
Again, on behalf of the United Nations, I would like to express our tremendous appreciation to the Government and people of Spain for helping to strengthen our ability to meet some of the most pressing challenges of our times.