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Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

DIRECT PRESIDENCY

SPEECHES

Speech by the President of the Republic at the Inauguration Ceremony
House of Parliament, 9 March 2016
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Portugal is the reason for the solemn commitment I have just assumed.

Here I was born, here I learned from my parents to speak the language that unites us and unites hundreds of millions around the world.

Here I raised my children and hope to see my grandchildren grow.

Here were created and will always live with me those feelings that we cannot define, but that bind us to all Portuguese. Love for the land, longing, sweetness of speech, communion on celebrations, generosity on inclusion, belief in Ourique´s miracles, heroism in the decisive moments.

It is for Portugal, for every Portuguese that goes my first and decisive thought.

Made of memory, loyalty, affection, allegiance to a common destiny.


The President of the Assembly of the Republic,
Mr. Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues,

In the person of Your Excellency, I welcome the legitimate and pluralistic representation of the popular will expressed in the Assembly of the Republic. And I assure institutional solidarity unfailing between the only two organs of sovereignty based on the direct and universal vote of all the People we are.


Professor Aníbal Cavaco Silva,

When browsing, on a mandatory memory exercise, the long and singular career of service to the homeland of Your Excellency - with a decade as head of the Government and a decade as head of the State, that greatly defined the Portugal we have - I believe to be a strict duty of justice - regardless of judgments that all political experience raises - address you a word of gratitude for the commitment that you´ve always put in the defense of the national interest – in the perspective that seemed correct to you, it is true - but sacrificing personal, academic and professional life in undeniable dedication to the common good .


General António Ramalho Eanes and Mr. Jorge Sampaio,

The presence of Your Excellencies is a symbol of continuity and richness of our democracy, lineage in which is also included Mr. Mario Soares.

Democracy that is ennobled with the presence of three distinguished foreign guests who honor us, by accepting my personal invitations, corresponding to essential coordinates of our foreign policy.

From national origin, converted in outstanding neighborhood, European brotherhood and complicity, in the person of Your Majesty the King Filipe VI.

From the desire to build a new future based on an eloquent and warm brotherhood, and common destiny, in the person of His Excellency the President Filipe Nyusi.

From the continuous affirmation of our commitment to an united and solidary Europe, in the person of His Excellency the President Jean-Claude Juncker.

In addition to this dimension of State there is another one, personal, to which is joined respect, long lasting bonds and grateful friendship.


The President,
Ladies and gentlemen, the Deputies,

A Portuguese hero from the XIX century wrote that «this kingdom is the work of soldiers». So it was, in fact, from the foundation of Portugal, attested in Zamora and recognized urbi et orbi by the Bull «Manifestis Probatum est».

In the battles of continental expansion or defense and restoration of independence, as in maritime epic sagas or, in our days, in peace missions, or humanitarian, inside and outside of Europe. With our Military Forces always faithful to Portugal.

So it was, as well, on April 25 of 1974, with the young captains, rescuing freedom, announcing democracy, allowing to convert the Colonial Empire in Community of Peoples and independent States, promising peace, development and justice for all.

To how many - military and civilian - did the Portugal we have always known, as, in particular, to how many - civilians and military – who built the Democratic Republic we owe to be here, elected by the people, in compliance with the Constitution.

I say correctly, the Constitution. In this very chamber, discussed and approved in the middle of a Revolution. And enacted almost forty years ago, on April 2, 1976.

I recall with emotion, those unforgettable times, when as young constituent, I joined my voice and my vote to so many more, coming from so many different quarters, having gone through such varied paths, with added years or even decades of struggle to the actual combat.

So that the Constitution that governs us could rise, and that was continuously reviewed and adapted to the new ages.

Therefore, the Constitution continues to be our common denominator. Everyone, at some time, has contributed to at least a part of its content.

Defend it, abide by it and enforce it is the duty of the President of the Republic.

And it would always be, even if having vote it, having accompanied some of its major revisions and have it taught over forty years, it would not held further responsible who has just assumed, before you, the presidential duties.

The President will therefore be a permanent and scrupulous guardian of the Constitution and its values, which, after all, are the values of the nation we are proud to be.

The value of respect for the human dignity, above all.

Of real people. Who are entitled to be free, but are also entitle to a society where there isn´t, in a dramatically persistent way, two million poor people, more than half a million at risk of poverty, and, also, striking differences between groups, regions and social classes.

Preserve life, physical and spiritual integrity, freedom of thought, belief and expression and pluralism of opinion and organization is a duty of all of us.

As it is to fight for social justice, which implies effective wealth creation, but is not satisfied with the contemplation of numbers, it wants to reach out to people and their rights and duties.

Primary values of the Constitution are, as well, the ones of national identity, made of roots in our land and our sea, but of universal calling - platform that we established between continents and especially between cultures and civilizations.

Roots in this land and this sea, which form a true archipelago with three points - Mainland, Azores and Madeira - and includes the ocean that made us and makes us great. Hence we can and we should continue to assume the Sea as a national priority. A priority born of a geostrategic and, above all, a universal calling - as António Lobo Antunes wrote: «If my land is small, I want to die at the sea».

Universal calling, of a Nation divided between the five continents, where more than half of us, nationals and descendants, live to create Portugal out of our physical territory, but within our spiritual territory.

Universal calling, in the embrace that binds us to the fraternal peoples, who share our language, in an open and inclusive community.

Universal calling, in which History joins the Geography, and where us being europeans on the starting point and the firm will to participate in european unity is enriched with us being transatlantic and, more than that, we are able to bring together the most diverse people and talks and economies and societies without xenophobia, intolerance, false superiority complexes or incomprehensible inferiority.

In sum, national identity made of soil and blood, and focused on Language, on Education, on Science, on Culture, in the ability to know how to combine the past with the future, not being afraid to face the present.

An identity lived in Democratic State, representative but also participatory and with referendum. Plural and fraternal. Respectful of popular sovereignty, separation and combination of powers, independence of justice, political and legislative autonomy of Azores and Madeira and administrative autonomy of the Local Government.

Diligent in the protection of personal and political freedoms, but invested in the affirmation of economic, social and cultural rights. And therefore, Social State of Law.

Where the creativity of the private sector is combined with the relevant Social Sector, and has always in mind that economic power should be subordinate to political power and not the latter serve as an instrument to the first.

In other words, the democratic political power should not prevent, in its dirigisme excesses, the dynamism and pluralism of civil society - traditionally so weak among us - but cannot resign from his role as rule maker, corrector of injustices, pledge of equal levels of economic and social well-being, particularly for those who the invisible hand has extinguish, diminished or marginalized.

It is under this Constitution - which, like all human work, is not untouchable, but that requires extended consensus for reweighting, that unite rather than divide - that we have ahead times and challenges difficult to overcome.

We must know to combine fight, in the universal plan, for the same values that govern us – dignity of the human person, peace, justice, freedom, development, intergenerational equity or enhancement of the environment – with the defense of the reform of the institutions that have become notoriously dysfunctional or insufficient.

We must be faithful to the commitments that we sovereignly bind ourselves - especially those that correspond to permanent coordinates of our foreign policy, such as the European Union, the CPLP and the Atlantic Alliance - never losing the perception that, as well as to them, there are signs of appeal to substance reflections, form, or of solidarity spirit, in a very different context of those who witnessed their most appreciable changes. The challenges of the refugees in Europe, the non financial and economic discrimination in the CPLP and the Atlantic Alliance borders are just three examples, among many, of very important issues, even if uncomfortable.

We have to get out of the crisis atmosphere, in which we have almost always lived since the beginning of the century, affirming our self-love, our wisdom, strength, experience, sense of key.

We must go further, with realism but forward-thinking, in the ability and the quality of our Education and Science, but also of Health, Social Security, Justice and Public Administration and of the political system and its moralizing and constant credibility, namely by the fight against corruption, patronage, nepotism.

We can´t, therefore, forget that, among us as well as in the Europe we belong to, without rigor and financial transparency, the risk of return or perpetuation of crisis is painfully greater, but, as well, that sound public finances unaccompanied of growth and employment can mean impoverishment and aggravated social injustice and conflicts.

We have to heal the wounds of these long years of sacrifice, the weakening of the social fabric, in the loss of regimen consensus, in the political division between hemispheres.

All undesirable, especially in years when it is urgent to re-create convergences, rediscover dialogues, remake understandings, rebuild reasons for more hope.

We must strengthen the sense of belonging to a Homeland, which is the same for everyone and before which there is only - or should only be – Portuguese with equal dignity and status.

The evoked challenges are difficult, complex, shrouded in unknown?

They require forced labor before an uncertain world, a Europe grappling with renewed tensions in internal and external solidarities, public finance not handling rashness, a financial system that prevents rather than cure and that doesn´t create ostracism or dependencies contrary to the national interest, policy trying out new methods, demanding clear, faster and more equitable answers?

Absolutely.

After the transition from the revolution to constitutionalism, the stabilization of party democracy, the european membership and euro adoption, the high expectations of the turn of the century and the frustrations, meanwhile lived, as well as the selfless response of the Portuguese, ahead of us lie five years in search of unity, peace, enhanced national cohesion, complex encounter between democracy and strategic internationalization, in and out of borders and between growth, employment and social justice on one hand, and financial viability on the other, of making consonances in social and political systems, of persistent construction of a friendly and supportive community.

Never losing faith in Portugal and in our secular ability to overcome crisis.

Never disbelieving in democracy.

Never letting hope die.

Never forgetting that what unites us is much more important and lasting than what divides us.

Persisting when the temptation is to give up.

Converting incomprehension in increased encouragement.

Preferring the small gestures that bring us together rather than great proclamations that distant us.

With honesty. With patience. With perseverance. With temperance. With courage. With humility.

It is, supported by these values and motivated by these purposes, that starts his term the fifth President of the Republic freely elected in Democracy.

And, because freely elected by popular vote, President of all without exception.

A President who is neither for nor against anyone. So it will be politically, from beginning to end of his term.

But, socially, in favor of the young person who wants to exercise his skills and, in vain, looks for work.

The woman who expects to see her role more recognized in a world still so unequal.

The pensioner who dreamed, thirty or forty years ago, with an April 25 that does not correspond to his current life horizon.

The scientist looking for always postponed incentives.

The farmer, the merchant, the industrial, who, day by day, survives the world of obstacles around him.

The employee or self-employed worker that pay the taxes that sustain much of the systems that legitimately protect those who suffer the most in our Welfare State.

The new and bold talent that is changing our society and our economy.

The IPSS, the Misericórdia, the institution closest to the people – in the local authorities and the autonomous regions - which takes care of so many, the ones who no one else can take better care.

Of what, in a far inland, in the islands, sometimes forgotten, in the communities that populate the world, is a permanent picture of our tenacity as a nation.

For all of them and many more.

The President is the President of all.

With no easy promises or programs that is known that cannot meet, but with steady determination. Assuming, in full, its powers and duties.

Without wanting to be more than what the Constitution allows.

Without accepting to be less than what the Constitution enforces.

A server of the public cause. That is to say, a server of this Homeland of almost nine centuries.

A Country that challenges us at every step. Requiring much more and much better.

But the answer comes from one of our greatest, Miguel Torga. Who wrote in 1987, almost thirty years now:

«The hard part for every Portuguese is not to be; it is to understand himself. We were never able to really look at ourselves in the mirror of life. Passion obscures our vision. Hence the kind of obscure innocence with which we operate in history. In the game of life, we are not always aware of what we can do and what we are worth. We provincially hypertrophy others' capabilities and minimize our own without even remember that a creature is only no good when it ceased to be restless. And we are the very incarnate unrest. It was her who made us open all spatial boundaries and meet all human longitudes ...

… We are not a dead nation, not even exhausted. We still have a big role to play within the nations, as the most ecumenical of all. The world today does not need our poor technique, or our precarious industry or our scarce raw materials. It needs our culture and our calling to heartily embrace, as if it was the natural heritage of all men.»

This portrait may sound very distant, when multiplied, in science, in technology, in the creation of wealth, so many examples of the Portuguese inventive among us or in the confines of the universe.

Yet, Torga saw the essential.

The essential is that we continue to minimize what we are worth.

And yet, we are worth much more than we think or say.

The essential is that our genius - what differentiates us from others - is the unbending creative restlessness that leads our ecumenical vocation.

Embracing the whole world.

She made us as we are.

Great on the past.

Great on the future.

So, here we are.

So, here I am.

For the eternal Portugal!

 
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