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Speech by the President of the Republic at the Military Ceremony in the Commemorations of the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities
Lamego, 10 June 2015

In the historic and monumental city of Lamego, incorporated in the original layout of the Portucalense County and deeply linked to our spirituality, we celebrate today the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities.

The History of Portugal, a collective work of the Portuguese, has the trait and the essence of its soldiers. Always present in the first line of assertiveness and preservation of national independence, in a continuous effort of value and bravery, they would cause the route of the Armed Forces to be inseparable from the pathways of the Nation.

For this reason I have wanted, since the beginning of my mandate, to associate the Armed Forces with the celebrations of the National Day of Portugal.

The former combatants for Portugal stand out in this ceremony. We intend, with this gesture, to pay a tribute to our betters. To distinguish those that, sacrificing the best part of their lives, gave their Country all that was asked from them.

Portugal has a debt to its combatants that must not be forgotten. Our tribute is also intended for those who gave their lives for their Country.

This ceremony has a greater significance in the city of Lamego, exemplary in how it receives and relates with military personnel and whose history confounds it with that of the soldiers who, since 1839, have been continuously present here, creating a unique affinity of the Military Institution with the local people and authorities.


The Military Institution, today as in the past, continues being one of the State’s structural and inalienable pillars.

In addition to its primary mission, the Armed forces contribute to the safeguard of the Country’s territory and resources, create the conditions of stability which are indispensable for national development and for the support of the people, and derive benefits from highly specialized capabilities and human resources.

It must be underlined, however, that the Armed Forces exist for fighting and to apply military force in defence of Portugal and the Portuguese, guaranteeing their peace and the free choice of their future.

This is their raison d’être, their primary mission, and that which distinguishes them from other State bodies.

It is for this reason that the military organization is associated with concepts of command and hierarchy, of discipline and cohesion, of authority and responsibility, of esprit de corps and camaraderie, and is based on codes of conduct and in the cult of values.

An organization with this nature must possess, permanently, a set of capabilities that ensures its readiness and a level of response adequate to fulfil its missions. This will afford improved perception of its usefulness and better understanding as to the means the State places at its disposal.


In periods of prolonged peace, the role of the Armed forces may be undervalued by some, and the need for their existence less understood.

Countering an idea installed in certain sectors of Portuguese society, the Armed forces were the object of successive reforms, and are the area of the State that went through greater changes in the last forty years. I refer, especially, to the end of National Service, to the introduction of Female Military Service and the resizing of the troops and the territorial disposition.

In the last 15 years, the Defence Budget decreased by 30 per cent and the military strength by approximately 35 per cent.

Our Armed Forces are currently going through a fresh cycle of reforms. At the same time, the gravity of the events in the periphery and in the interior of Europe caused an inflection in the trend of demilitarization and in the divestment in defence by the societies in the Euro-Atlantic world.

Who could have foreseen, three or four years ago, the brutal means which have been committed in the violent attempts against peoples’ freedom and against the most elementary human rights in regions so near to us?

This is a reality which cannot leave Portugal indifferent. We have to proceed with the necessary adaptations and adjustments in undertaking the current reforms, in order to guarantee the capabilities and the solidarity drive of our Armed Forces, together with our allies, in defending the higher interests of Peace, Freedom, Safety and peaceful conviviality amongst Peoples.

Since the nineties decade that the Portuguese Armed Forces have been providing a relevant contribution within the scope of the Detached National Forces, having deployed approximately 33,500 servicemen in 23 countries, in Africa, Europe, Asia, in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and Indian Oceans.

In difficult environments and with high risk levels, Portuguese servicemen have always been able to respond with exemplary conduct and outstanding competence and professionalism, gaining credibility and prestige with our partners and allies.

A performance that, unfortunately, is often forgotten or little valued with public opinion.


Whilst Supreme Commander, I have closely followed the legislative process associated to the new reforms in the Armed forces.

It was important to safeguard the interests of the people, particularly involving the Health and Social Support sectors, as well as the operability of the Armed Forces, guaranteeing the indispensable conditions for training purposes and equipment maintenance.

In the area of Military Health, there are now positive signs to believe that in the next few years we can count upon a highly referenced hospital unit in the Armed Forces. A unit that may measure up to the legitimate expectations of its users and provide the professional self-fulfilment of all those who serve in it.

The reforms have not finished, obviously, with the completion of the legislative process. Now is the time for these to be materialized, which demands not only flexibility, time and adaptation capacity, but also the availability of resources and the necessary means.

Only this way will it be possible to ensure a gradual transition to the new structure without disruption. The Armed Forces cannot accept successive reforms without the completion and testing of the previous reforms. This concern must be present with all those responsible and deserving of a wide consensus amongst politicians, since it is an area of vital importance for the Portuguese Nation.

And, since the men and women who serve the Military Institution are its most valuable resource, it is important that servicemen understand that these reforms are in their interest. It is fundamental that these reforms contribute to reinforce their motivation and to the improvement of the operational capability.

This must be the real meaning of the reforms of the Armed forces.


Portugal has always been able to overcome the crises and adversities which it suffered throughout its History. It fought, resisted and won numerous battles, because that was the will of its people. Because we all wanted to continue Portuguese. Because the nation always counted upon those who served it with total dedication and patriotism.

As Supreme Commander of the Armed forces, I want to express, before the Portuguese and the highest State hierarchy, my respect and deep appreciation to all our servicemen and women, for their high sense of duty to the community and for what, in extreme situations and in difficult environments, they have shown: exceptional performance, exemplary behaviour, ironclad determination.

With you we will traverse this further crossroads in our History. With you we will continue building our common destiny. The destiny must be Portugal.

Thank you.

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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.