THE National Day of Spain gives me the opportunity to extend my sincere greetings to all the people of Hong Kong and to my compatriots living in the territory. Due to its strategical position, Spain has become, in the course of its history, a meeting point of different worlds, a bridge between Europe and Africa; between Europe and America. The many different races and nations which have invaded or settled in the Iberian Peninsula have contributed to create an amazing diversity of customs, languages, cultures, folklore: a Europe en miniature, a sort of microcosm with its own distinctive personality. This diversity is reflected in a federal-oriented state formed by several autonomous communities. Our Muslim and Jewish heritage has played an important role in hosting the very first step towards a lasting peace in the Middle East: the Madrid Conference of October 1991. The various types of landscapes and climates, the cultural wealth and the hospitality of its people have all together helped to turn Spain into a favourite tourist spot. Although Western Europe continues to be one of the main destinations for Hong Kong travellers, I believe Spain remains, for many of them, a secret to be discovered. The lack of direct Hong Kong-Spain flights is the main obstacle to this situation. A direct consequence has been an absence of information. In my opinion, one of the top bilateral priorities for the near future should be the establishment of a permanent Hong Kong-Barcelona-Madrid air link . Many of the excellent products Spain offers are unknown in Hong Kong, from foodstuff and wines to modern industrial products. Due to the 22 per cent devaluation of the Spanish peseta early this year, these articles have become very attractive and competitive in the Hong Kong market. Proof of this trend has resulted in a spectacular increase of imports from Spain this year, which, in the period January to June, levelled the total imports in 1990. In the five years, from 1987 to 1992, trade between Hong Kong and Spain has trebled - up from US$446 million in 1987, compared with $1.2 billion last year. The Spanish connections with this part of the world are quite ancient, but our presence in Hong Kong, compared with other European countries, is young, yet dynamic. More Spanish citizens are coming to the territory, and a growing number of Spanish companies are settling in Hong Kong, particularly iron-steel firms, banks and traders. Spain is becoming more aware of the importance of Hong Kong as a market in itself, and also as a business and financial centre for China, and the whole Asian-Pacific region. Spain has also become an essential building block for a new unified and peaceful Europe. We are dedicating an enormous amount of hope, sacrifice and work in this unique project.