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Feira do Livro

DIRECT PRESIDENCY

SPEECHES

Welcome by the President of the Republic to the Ambassadors of the European Union accredited in Portugal
Belém Palace, 11 April 2016

I would like to express my appreciation for the words that the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands has just addressed me as President of the European Union and, inherently, of this Group of Ambassadors.

It is with the utmost pleasure that I welcome you here in Belém, at my very first meeting with a Regional Group of Ambassadors accredited in Lisbon. This is, as you all may recall, an objective set out immediately after I came into office, when I addressed the whole Diplomatic Corps accredited in Lisbon to present my compliments. I wish to maintain a close, constructive relationship with everyone. I am sure that these regular encounters will contribute to fostering and strengthening the dialogue with the distinguished representatives of all Nations friendly to Portugal, and to deepening our knowledge of each other so as to better carry out our work.

Together we can promote more economic and cultural partnerships between your countries and Portugal, within a spirit of mutual advantages and respect which will benefit us all and, I am sure, make your and our work more meaningful and enriching from a personal perspective.

The Ambassadors of the European countries are the first Regional Group that I have received; however, as you know, before this meeting, I also welcomed not a regional but a gender Group. Last month, I received the Group of Lady Ambassadors accredited in Lisbon for what I intended to be a demonstration of the importance I attach to the issue of gender and equal opportunities - a cross-cutting and global issue. My intention with that meeting was to express my deep conviction that the promotion of gender equality should be an achievement by all, European and non-European alike.

Today, in welcoming the Ambassadors of the European Union, I wish to highlight not only the significance of the European project for Portugal, an ongoing priority on its foreign policy agenda, but also to convey my commitment to contributing to what, as Schuman once said, is a project based on a de facto solidarity so that we can together meet increasingly complex challenges.

This year, Portugal celebrates the 40th anniversary of its current Constitution, a Constitution based on the European values of freedom and democracy, to which I am proud to have contributed. In this light, Portuguese democracy is inseparable from the European project, reflecting the desire of every Portuguese - as much then as now - to be an active part of this great project for peace, solidarity and social development. It is within this spirit – and I will take with me this clear message from the Portuguese people – that in two days' time I will address the plenary session of the European Parliament, the house of European democracy.

Since its accession in 1986, Portugal has been at the forefront of the major European endeavours. The various national governments, regardless of the political parties behind them, have converged in the certainty that Portugal is European and that, more than a cultural heritage and a geographical cradle, we share with Europe a common aspiration to live in a space where everyone, without exception, has the right to a dignified life in a shared space of peace, democracy, solidarity and prosperity. The European dream represented and continues to represent Portugal's paradigm of political, social and economic development.

My Country, even if at the cost of sacrifices in the most difficult times, has successfully honoured its European commitments. The way in which we succeeded in implementing the Adjustment Programme sent out a strong sign of the determination and effort of the Portuguese, that we should all value. It is with the same decision-making capacity that we should face this complex challenge of combining rigour with growth and social justice.

Even under adverse circumstances, the Portuguese have demonstrated their total solidarity with their partners, such as in the management of the dramatic refugee crisis, thus seeking to keep alive the ambition that brought us together and has allowed us to experience the longest period of peace and prosperity in our history. Let us never forget that it was the quest for peace and prosperity that united us!

We need to find a way to continue nurturing this project, and to keep in mind its most important component - its people.

Distinguished Ambassadors, Dear Friends,

The European Union is a project of belief, commitment and sharing. It is also a project of international affirmation of a model of civilisation based on respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

The European Union, as a whole, is a more prosperous and more relevant entity in the international arena than if all the nations that comprise it were separate.

So we hope that the European Union and all its Member States continue to successfully overcome all the challenges that present themselves, so that we can go on attracting ever more partners without losing any along the way. I also hope that together we can and will respond to the most urgent challenges that European citizens pose to their political leaders and representatives. Only a Europe capable of feeling the pulse of its citizens can avoid mistakes that could hinder the development of this honourable project.

The European Union must respect the individuality of each Nation and People so that everyone feels they are an equal part of the European project; we need, however, to strike the right balance here, lest we encourage extreme forms of nationalism that have proved in the past to better foster conflict, suffering and loss.

I feel confident that together we will go even further and find the way to get there.

In short, and borrowing a phrase by the Portuguese writer Agustina Bessa-Luís: “we don't need anyone to say what is wrong, but someone who knows what is right”.

Thank you very much.

 
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