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Speech addressed by The President of the Portuguese Republic in the Royal Portuguese Library in Rio de Janeiro

Honourable President of the Federal Republic of Brazil, my dear Friend,
Honourable President of the Royal Portuguese Library in Rio de Janeiro,
Honourable Ambassadors,
Honourable Consul General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to commence by singling out the pleasurable presence, amongst us, of His Excellency President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, in a gesture that touches me much and so greatly honours this House and all it represents.
It would be difficult to find a better place to celebrate the bicentenary of the Arrival of the Portuguese Court in Brazil than this historic building which houses the Royal Portuguese Library.

The extraordinary beauty of the room that surrounds us is a sign, a sign that we must read and interpret. It is the proof that those Portuguese who arrived here and erected this building saw in Brazil a land to be loved and made great, where they wanted to remain, create roots, leave perennial marks, such as places so deserving of respect and admiration as this Royal Portuguese Library.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As President of the Portuguese Republic, it was with particular satisfaction that I accepted the honourable invitation addressed to me by President Lula da Silva to travel to Brazil on such an important date for both our countries. .

More than commenting, on this occasion, the importance that derived for Brazil, as well as for Portugal, from the coming of the Royal Family to Rio de Janeiro, I would prefer underlining that we have a common memory, a route travelled by two.

Brazil has always been a land so dear to Portugal that, two hundred years ago, a King, in an unknown gesture in world History, decided to come here and establish his Court. He did not come on a visit, or with the idea of staying in Rio de Janeiro for a few months. King João VI arrived in Brazil with the firm intent to install the capital of an Empire that stretched over several continents and into Asia.

It is worth while commemorating the past if, with that, we celebrate the future. Especially when the times nearing us are promising and filled with hope. Apart from the symbolic value of the gesture, celebrating the arrival of the Portuguese Court in Brazil is turning the memory and the legacy of olden times into the wish for a greater ambition for the future.

We are all aware of the bonds that join us together, the fraternal friendship between Brazil and Portugal, our very singular Atlantic affection, made up of so many complicities.

But we are also all aware of the risks run by sentiments, the sense that words lose, as beautiful as they may be when we do not turn them into firm and shared undertakings. .

Today, it is possible to commemorate together a time in which, growingly, acts provide firm sense to words.
This does not mean that we are forgetting History. On the contrary, it means we are celebrating it better, using our collective memory as an additional motive to act in the present. Our common destiny is kept alive and, for this reason, our current and future responsibilities are greater.

Portugal and Brazil, whilst sovereign States, but also the Brazilians and the Portuguese, whilst citizens of free and democratic countries, must be worthy of the centuries that preceded us and of the heritage we received. They must, specifically, take advantage of all the opportunities in which the agreement on positions will guarantee us a greater assertion in the international stage. Without complexes, as partners who understand and respect each other and that believe this is the best way to defend their respective national interests.

Updating the communion of affections is also the understanding, on immediate terms, that a constant dialogue exists, more amongst the people than amongst the States. If there was a time when the Portuguese diaspora chose Brazil as its destination, there are now many Brazilians that seek Portugal. Our History was always made of well trodden paths in both directions.

The Portuguese that arrived here, such as King João VI, almost always came to stay. And even if that was not their original intent, many ended up by remaining here and creating roots, such was their welcome. I hope that Brazilians are made as welcome in Portugal as the Portuguese were in Brazil. And I am certain that, with these words, I am speaking on behalf of all my country’s people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Brazil is today much more than the “Country of the future”. The promise was kept: Brazil is currently a great Country, where it is worth while investing with a vision of the future. I salute the Portuguese entrepreneurs of yesterday and today that, with their dynamism, understood that Brazil is a certainty of the present and of the future. I equally salute the intellectuals and men of culture of both countries because, throughout the years, discretely, they weaved bonds that the official authorities were not always able to exploit.

Not by chance, Brazil is currently one of the main, if not the main tourist destination chosen by the Portuguese. The reason is simple. Or better, the reasons are simple. On the one hand, lays the beauty of this land and the natural and spontaneous sympathy of its people. On the other, lays the fact that we Portuguese feel at home here.

But Brazil is more, has to be more, than a tourist destination. It is a land for investment, with economic potentials equal to the size of its immense territory. And it is, equally, an area of culture, of a culture that the Portuguese love and know, such as I believe that Brazilians love and are knowledgeable of Portuguese culture.

Portuguese culture was not the only one to place its stamp on Brazil. In a very original synthesis, knowledge and experience from many parts of the world converged here, and mixed with the native traditions to make Brazilians a people with a universal vocation. Portugal contributed decisively to the singular mosaic of cultures on which the Brazilian universality is based, such as Brazil gave a decisive contribution to the universality of Portugal.

Today, in this House, we celebrate together a determining episode for the historical development of our two countries. We do it as sovereign and trusting nations, conscious of what the legacy of History represents as an asset in today’s world.

This centenary House is also getting prepared for modern times, for new projects, open to the society in which it is included and, in particular, to the younger generations. That this coincidence of purposes is used as a motto is my wish. Because the time has come for both countries and both peoples to turn a common past into a future built by two. A future that has already commenced.

Thank you very much.


© 2008 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic