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Visita ao Centro de Formação  da Escola da Guarda (GNR)
Visita ao Centro de Formação da Escola da Guarda (GNR)
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Speech by the President of the Republic upon his visit to the Historical Society of Portuguese Independence
Lisbon, 16 February 2016

I would like to begin by greeting the officers of the Historical Society of Portuguese Independence, as well as all its members, and by placing on public record my great appreciation for its work. I also wish to stress the relevance of this work and of its continuing topicality.

The Historical Society of Portuguese Independence was founded more than 150 years ago. It was then called the 1st December 1640 National Association, a name with which it was known during the first decades of its existence.

The name clearly shows the aim that furthered its setting up and its main objective throughout the years: to renew the spirit with which, two centuries previously, the heroes of Portugal’s Restoration met, in this same palace.

Although the integrity of the territory was not then in question, the idea of publicly reasserting the will of the Portuguese to continue as a free and independent nation mustered people from all social and intellectual quarters.

One of the most notable traits of this Society is the fact that those have coincided, since its inception, with genuinely popular feelings.

As can be viewed in a paragraph of its charter, the Society intends to «improve Portugal’s assertion by the Portuguese», that is to say, prideful to belong in the Country where they were born and to assume their collective identity, and, as such, strengthen the external prominence of national culture.

At a time of accelerated globalization, in which the ease of communication tends to omit the existence of borders, there may be those who believe that national values do not make sense any more, or else will be no more than a mere trace of times gone past.

Reality, however, is a lot different. Far from dissolving due to globalization, the values that cement the identity and the cohesion of each people have nowadays redoubled importance.

If you observe the drive with which many countries preserve their past and husband their national symbols, we must conclude that the coalescing strength of such values continues an asset that no people can afford to underestimate.

It is for this reason that, along with the values of citizenry and human rights – universal, by definition – it is equally necessary to cultivate the values that show our uniqueness in the concert of nations.

The History that placed us together in the same territory, the language with which we communicate amongst us, the culture in which we are comprised and which is renewed every generation are, in addition to our heritage, a moral reserve, a source of inspiration and a strategic asset to conquer collective adversities and challenges.

It is not by chance that Portugal is nowadays a nation and a State with many centuries of history: it was because our people did not give up, did not lower their arms and, fronting successive setbacks, even including the temporary loss of its own sovereignty, always found the necessary animus to reassert the will to be free and independent.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our current situation cannot compare with what we lived in 1861, when a group of citizens and patriots felt the need to publicly show their wish to continue defending Portugal as an independent State.

By sovereign option, Portugal is nowadays a rightful member of the European Union and a staunch defender of the European project and values. The thirty years of active and committed participation in the European project, which we are celebrating this year, were a unique opportunity for our development, and a notable period of our recent history.

Within the scope of the European Union, such as within that of the North Atlantic Treaty, our Armed forces have been performing relevant tasks, in several worldwide operational theatres, always prominently and duly recognized by the international organizations.

Our language is more than ever spoken and taught in many countries housing Portuguese or Luso-descendant communities, who share with pride our collective memory, who consider as equally theirs the symbols of our nationhood and continue being identified with the essential nucleus of national values.

It is our duty to promote and disseminate such values, with which we identify ourselves and by which we are internationally recognized.

Our offspring and our youth must learn the history of their forbears, be well acquainted with the language and the culture of the people where they belong, in order to be able, in the future, as free citizens, to provide continuity and strength to the path we have been treading for so many generations.

«To defend Portugal’s identity and independence, internally and abroad», as written in the charter of the Historical Society of Portuguese Independence is not, by any means, a retrograde attitude.

It is simply the demonstration of our will to continue as we have been, for almost a millennium: a sovereign people and a fearless and independent Country which, since very early days had friendly relations with Europe and with the remainder of the World and which, in addition, opened the way for relationships amongst European and other worldwide countries.

Mister Chairman of the Historical Society of Portuguese Independence,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the day when I was empowered as President of the Republic, in 2006, I expressed my deep conviction that “our determination is greater than any dejection, our hope is stronger than any resignation, our ambition overcomes any despondency”.

I ended my speech on that day, stating that “what the higher moments of our History teach us is that we are a people marked by dissatisfaction” and that “marks our ambition to do more and better. We are branded by the idea that we are the agents of History, owners of our future. We are a people capable to overcome difficulties in hours of stress”.

Now, when ending my mandates, well aware of the difficulties we are going through, I reiterate here, in the Historical Society of Portuguese Independence, each one of those words and thus reassert my conviction.

Thank you very much.

© 2006-2016 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic

You have gained access to the records of the Official Site of the Presidency of the Republic from 9 March 2006 to 9 March 2016.

The contents available here were entered in the site during the 10 year period covering the two mandates of President of the Republic Aníbal Cavaco Silva.