Spain's Crown Prince Felipe presided Sunday along with Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli at the closing ceremony of the 5th Centennial of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, to whom tribute was paid before a statue of the explorer that Spain's King Alfonso XIII presented to Panama 100 years ago.

On his latest trip to Panama, where he participated in several events within the framework of the 23rd Ibero-American Summit, Prince Felipe emphasized the growing links between Spaniards and Panamanians and was presented with a miniature replica of the Balboa statue.

In his speech, the prince, who was accompanied by Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo, made reference to the gift by his great-grandfather to Panama to commemorate the fourth centennial of the discovery and took advantage of the occasion to relay a message of "affection, friendship and brotherhood" from King Juan Carlos.

The king could not travel to Panama because he is recovering from hip surgery.

The prince said that the discovery of the Pacific was the first act of globalization and emphasized that, in the following centuries, other Spanish explorers and navigators departing from the American viceroyalties traversed and renamed the "Southern Sea" as the Pacific Ocean.

"Spain feels honored to be able to contribute to Panamanian prosperity and dynamism through the work of our companies and professionals, which are present in the main sectors of the economy of Panama, thus contributing to improving the well-being and prosperity of its citizens," the prince said.

Martinelli brought the ceremony to a close by asking the prince to convey to the king his wish for a quick recovery and emphasizing the discovery of the Pacific as an act of vital importance for world trade and for Panama. EFE