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

We commemorate today the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities.

We celebrate Portugal in the noble city of Lamego, whose millenary roots testify our collective identity, forged during centuries.

We celebrate Portugal from the privileged point of view that we are a European nation and a community of destination spread over the seven parts of the World.

Throughout its History of many centuries, Portugal lived through times of affluence which alternated with times of scarcity and deep convulsion.

But we are here today, in this National Day of Portugal. We are here together, all of us, to commemorate a Nation that exists due to our people’s will to conquer.

We are a sovereign and independent State because, even in the worst times, in times of grievous crises, we never allowed ourselves to be weakened by despondency or pessimism.

We celebrate the National Day of Portugal because we never lost trust in a better future.

Some have the inclination not to believe in the future, to doubt the capability and the strength of our people. There are even some who treat inconsequent criticism as a way of life, a very sad way of life.

To those who prefer to malign everything and everyone, those that opt for destructive criticism without presenting solutions or alternatives, we must show the example of our people, which throughout History have always overcome adversities and found paths to the future.

If our ancestors had allowed themselves to be vanquished by pessimism, we would have lowered our arms, turned our backs to the Atlantic Ocean and to the worlds we brought into the world.

If we had resigned, we would not have resisted the foreign invaders or conquered freedom and democracy.


Portugal has recently lived through very difficult times. The crisis we had to face left deep sequels in many Portuguese, some of which still persist. Unemployment levels continue too high. Many families continue unable to lead a dignified way of life.

With everyone’s efforts and sacrifice, we overcame a situation of near bankruptcy that the Country was facing in 2011 and, in latter times, we have been gradually recovering our economy and job creation.

The Portuguese were exemplary in their attitude, courage and sense of responsibility.

Today, Portugal may hope for a better future.

If, in addition to the Country’s political and governance stability, guidance of political economy could be ensured to allow achieving four important objectives, I am certain we could face our collective future with confidence, independently from whoever governs us. These four great objectives are; firstly, the balancing of the State accounts and the sustainability of the public debt; secondly, the balancing of the external accounts and the control of foreign indebtedness; as a third important objective, the competitiveness of our economy as compared with external factors; and lastly, a level of taxation in line with that of our main competitors.

Only this way will we be able to ensure economic growth and job creation.

Through my contacts with the most diverse sectors of our society, I am able, on this National day of Portugal, to evince the signs of trust in the future that I have encountered with established entrepreneurs, workers and social partners, young entrepreneurs, scientists and academicians, local authorities, solidarity institutions and Portuguese communities spread all over the World.

Equally, signs of confidence in our Country may be found in the attitudes of our European partners, in investors and in the behaviour of the financial markets.

Entrepreneurs and other business enterprises did not become accommodated or resigned. To start with, it is relevant to underline the increase of 10 percentage points in the weight of exports in national production, between 2010 and 2014. Such a value is achieved with work and audacity, and not with disbelief or conformism.

In the meetings I frequently have with our entrepreneurs, I have confirmed their firm determination in increasing the production of quality goods and services, capable of competing with the World’s best and to conquer new markets.

I emphasize the investment in knowledge and innovation that has been undertaken in Portuguese companies, which, in some sectors, are European leaders in the production of goods and technologies. I record the extraordinary increase in the number of companies that fulfil the demanding selection criteria to comprise COTEC’s SME Innovation Network, an association in which I have the honour to be the Chairman of the General Meeting.

Through the initiative «Routes to a Dynamic Economy», I have contacted a great number of average sized industrial enterprises, companies which have known how to adapt their production to the demands of new markets, with a very positive impact in local job creation, in the Country’s export capabilities and in economic growth.

Signs of hope are also arising in the culture of responsibility that predominates in most of the social partners, an extremely relevant asset to carry out the indispensable reforms in the strengthening of social cohesion and competitiveness in Portuguese companies.

Here, near to the Douro Valley, where some of the best wines in the World have been successfully produced, where an exceptional gastronomy can be enjoyed in the midst of spectacular landscapes, I cannot but emphasize the success of the tourism operators in the improvement and diversification of their offer, all of which have resulted in multiple international awards attributed to our Country and above all, in the record numbers of visitors that are finding in Portugal their preferred destination.
Entrepreneurs and workers, real heroes to whom Portugal owes so much in overcoming the recent crisis, are now able to regard the future with improved perspectives.

The numbers of young entrepreneurs that have significantly increased in the most diversified areas are showing their ambition and will to conquer. They are daring youths that, challenging risks, approach an innovatory idea and endeavour transforming it into a profitable business, a job creating activity. They are the ferment of a more dynamical entrepreneurial class, guided towards the global market, which invests in innovation and knows that success cannot be based on State subsidies or benefits.

Allow me to especially mention the young farmers that have taken on the management of family companies and have given them new directions, applying innovative techniques and achieving significant improvements in productivity. We must salute and encourage this new blood which is settling in agricultural operations and which already significantly contributes to the growth in the sector’s exports and to the reduction of our food deficit.

In another area, that of higher education and scientific research, we have witnessed a significant increase in the quantity and quality of our academic production. Just recently, a few days ago, one hundred thousand chemical engineers from all over Europe elected a Portuguese young man as the best European researcher in his field of specialization. This is not an isolated case, examples of this occur frequently, with national scientists distinguished over the excellence of their work and their research.

In the global economy, where heavy competition reigns, the future lies in the correct linking between education, research and innovation, on the one hand, and with companies’ activities, on the other. I have dedicated several campaigns of my “Routes” in the Country to this national priority.

The action of our Universities and Polytechnic Institutes, together with that of laboratories and research centres, as well as with the qualification and talents of the younger generations gives us good reasons to confide in our collective future.

Signs of confidence also result from the actions developed by local authorities to whom a word of recognition is due for the work they have carried out.

Due to my frequent contacts with the Country’s Mayors, I can assert that local authorities, one of the great conquests of democratic Portugal, can now avail themselves of a new generation of councilmen that are well versed with the issues of their lands and their people, but equally dispose of a more embracing and integrated perspective of the challenges emerging in the framework of the European Union. The Country currently holds dynamic, well informed and motivated local authorities.

I can witness that today’s councilmen are active agents in the Country’s economic and social development. Driven towards the strengthening of the productive bases of their municipalities and to job creation, they promote the capturing of investments, support companies’ competitiveness, the disclosure of the culture of entrepreneurialism and innovation, the utilization of their regions’ resources, the preservation of the environment and the recovery of the historic and cultural heritage.

Local authorities must now perform the indispensable catalyst role to take advantage of the resources available through the “Portugal 2020” Programme, contributing towards the reduction of territorial development asymmetries.

It is equally worthwhile recalling the essential role that local authorities performed in aiding those more afflicted with the crisis. The effort developed by the local authorities was joined by an immense network of institutions and voluntary workers that, due to their actions on behalf of the most vulnerable, gained the admiration of the Portuguese.

To this end I also wish to call attention to the entrepreneurs who, responding to an appeal of mine congregated in the association “Entrepreneurs for Social Inclusion”, in the combat against schools abandonment and failure.

Our communities spread all over the World, which I greet with special affection, one of the Country’s strategic assets, are an increased reason for our confidence in the future.

In the meetings I have held with the Portuguese and Luso-descendants in the Diaspora, I have confirmed their firm wish to contribute towards the Country’s development and to overcome the challenges we are facing.

The Council of the Portuguese Diaspora set up under my sponsorship and which brings together Portuguese who, in the countries where they reside, stand out due to their merit in the fields of science, culture, economy and citizenship, has been contributing towards the dissemination of a positive image of Portugal, and making the World aware of our Country’s undertakings and potential.

From my visits abroad and from the contacts I have maintained with members of governments, representatives of international institutions and foreign investors, I can assert how the attitude towards Portugal has favourably changed. We are viewed as an attractive destination and, above all, as a destination that can be trusted.

We are praised due to the corrections we have achieved in the grievous economic and financial imbalances which led the Country to a disruptive situation, to the reforms undertaken for the improvement of business competitiveness, to the path of economic growth and job creation which we have been treading, to the fulfilment of the rules of budgetary discipline which we approved within the scope of the European Union.

The interest rates of Portuguese public debt have decreased very significantly. Portugal is recognized as a competitive destination for foreign investment and our human resources are sought and valued. The quality of Portuguese products is relished in particularly demanding markets.

On another hand, within the scope of the European Union, since the capacity to face financial crises and the supervision of Member States was strengthened, there is now a clear drive for an agenda of economic growth and job creation.

These are positive signs that reach us from abroad and that contribute to reinforce our trust in Portugal’s future.


In a time stamped by so many uncertainties, in which news of human drama reached us from many worldwide sources, some of which very near to us, Portugal crossed, without any deep jolts, one of the most demanding periods in its recent History.

It is true that in the past, in the first decade of our democracy, the Portuguese State had already been obliged to recur twice to emergency external aid. In the memories of many of us the remembrance is still very real of the heavy cost we had to pay, when the economic crisis was joined by a very tense and highly conflictual social crisis, at times extremely violent.

This time, differently from what occurred in the past foreign interventions, the economic and social crisis surged when the expectations of wellbeing are much greater than they were thirty or forty years ago. The quality of living of the Portuguese had significantly increased, the standards and habits of consumption had changed, and the peoples’ legitimate aspirations became naturally wider.

It was in this context that, after a decade of reduced economic growth, Portugal reached a situation which I qualified as «explosive». In May 2011, we were obliged to recur to external aid to fulfil the State’s and the economy’s financing needs. Without external aid the Country would have entered a disrupting situation, with catastrophic social consequences. It is not by chance, in any case, that other countries in the euro zone had to follow the same path of requesting external aid. And not all of them have been able, as did Portugal, Ireland and Spain, to overcome their difficulties.

In following the programme of financial aid, we were obliged to go through great sacrifices. At a given moment it was necessary to make representations as to the limits that existed in the sacrifices imposed on the Portuguese. On another hand, the risk almost existed of the Country entering into a spiral recession. We were fortunately able to put a stop to it.

In those days it was necessary to hear the voices of those that did not have a voice – the unemployed, the excluded, the retired, the pensioners.

It is true that we still have a long way to go. But there are good reasons today to face the future with greater optimism and confidence.

Just as I never sold illusions or promises to the Portuguese, I now clearly state that no one should count on me to sow discouragement or pessimism as to the future of our Country. I leave that to the professionals of disbelief and to the prophets of hopelessness.

If we carry out our duty – and nobody else will do so for us -, if we ensure political stability and good government, if we define, in a medium term horizon, a line of action favourable to economic growth, to job creation, to the sustainability of public finance and to the promotion of social justice, we will be able to celebrate this day, our day, the National Day of Portugal and of the Portuguese, with confidence in the future.

Thank you very much

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