Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy emphasized on Monday the contribution of its military missions abroad to Spain's security given international threats such as terrorism and piracy.

"Spain gains prestige each day with its sacrifice," Rajoy said in a Christmas message by videoconference directed at its troops serving in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Bosnia, Djibouti, the Indian Ocean, Uganda and Antarctica.

A few hours after the premier visited Spanish troops in Afghanistan, Rajoy said that what he saw there pleased him and moved him, because he could verify that Spain has "modern, professional and dedicated" armed forces.

Rajoy sent his Christmas message from the headquarters of the Air Transport Infantry Brigade in Figueirido, in Pontevedra, in his home province of Galicia, where he will spend the holidays.

Spanish armed forces currently are participating in the international assistance force in Afghanistan, or ISAF; the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon, UNIFIL; the European Union's Operation Atalanta to fight piracy off the coast of Somalia, and Madrid also has a small military contingent in Bosnia.

The most important mission is the one in Afghanistan, where Spain has deployed about 1,400 troops.

The Spanish armed forces began their participation in international missions in 1989 and, since then, more than 100,000 Spanish soldiers have been dispatched to take part in about 50 operations on four continents. EFE