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Visita ao Instituto dos Pupilos do Exército por ocasião do seu 100º aniversário
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Speech addressed by the President of the Republic at the Military Ceremonies of the Commemorations of the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Communities
Viana de Castelo, June 10, 2008

Honourable Speaker of Parliament,
Honourable Prime Minister,
Honourable Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the celebrations of the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Communities we evoke the great deeds of our forebears and the traditions of a People.

A People that, showing an assertive will, vigorously set out to conquer its space on earth and demonstrated the determination needed to preserve it. A People that proved capable to disseminate its culture in distant parts, more than its size could ever warrant, launching itself on a magnificent and admirable adventure.

It is this legacy which bears our pride, and must be highly praised and evoked to the coming generations as the place where we again find ourselves as a Nation.

The real tribute we must pay to this inheritance is to continue it, facing new challenges, conquering the frontiers of the unknown, once again prevailing over what seems impossible to overcome.

In my journeys it is this spirit that, notwithstanding the difficulties, I continue finding in the Portuguese, and it is this determination and audacity which I have found, particularly in younger people, which fills me with the confidence and the certainty that the soul and the feeling of the Portuguese are still alive and deserving of their past.

For this reason, on this day, we pay tribute to those that continue to distinguish themselves and bringing us distinction, contributing with their courage, intelligence, merit and efforts towards the building of a better country, a more secure, prosperous and equitable world.

For this reason also, it makes the fullest sense to associate the Armed Forces to these celebrations.


The ways of the Nation are unquestionably the same as those of the Armed Forces.

With their presence in the more significant moments of our History, it is difficult to find an Institution which has contributed so much, so often and with the sacrifice of so many to the building and consolidation of the Portuguese Nation.

It continues to be so today, in such distant countries as Afghanistan where, simultaneously, we are endeavouring to fight international terrorism and drug traffic, to help that country develop its essential defence and security capabilities, and to provide greater tranquillity to their people’s daily lives.

It is thus in Kosovo, guaranteeing stability, safety and welfare, in a particularly sensitive moment of change, where the opportunity to intervene and the relationship with local inhabitants assume special relevance.

So it was in Chad, helping to build up the international military capability required to bring humanitarian aid to the victims in the areas of conflict, and also, in the skies of the Baltic countries, complying with the mutual duty to provide the defence of the airspace of those recent members of the Atlantic Alliance.

Equally so in the Lebanon, where I had the privilege to associate with our soldiers and the satisfaction to once again witness the wholesome way in which the Portuguese military continue to disseminate the Lusitanian way of life.

It is extremely gratifying, not only as President of the Republic and Supreme Commander, but also as a citizen, to ascertain the great prestige and regard that our soldiers enjoy in any of the missions to which they have been detached in several areas of the world.

The national participation in these missions, which interprets the normal compliance with commitments of solidarity, contributes directly for the assertion of Portugal in the world but, more so, contributes towards the security of the area where we live and to the safeguard of the values in which we believe.

National defence currently covers diffuse frontiers, involving the exertion of our Armed Forces away from national boundaries, sharing the effort for containing conflicts, so that our people are also protected from their effects.

Unfortunately, nowadays, the range and the multifaceted characteristics of the threats, and the uncertainty as to their location, create the need for higher surveillance and for an increased intervening capability, this being a reason why the expeditionary characteristic of the forces, however decisive, cannot dispense with the dissuasive quality of military power.

The State, as responsible for matters of sovereignty, has the duty to ensure the conditions to maintain the national defence capability.

An adequate, modern and efficient National Defence policy implies a better organization of the different responsibilities, clarifying and listing competences, avoiding duplication, and searching for effectiveness, rationality and economy of means.

The relevant reforms which are being conducted in National Defence and in the Armed Forces must continue the guidelines already followed, in order to create more agile and effective structures, adequate to the demands of the security environment, to perform military missions and to fulfil the Country’s commitments as a member of several security and defence international organizations.

In order to keep a military instrument which is credible, modern, in high readiness and great capability, it is fundamental that the military profession be appreciated and that its specificity is respected.

The Armed Forces need highly prepared and motivated people, permanently available to comply with the commitment they are sworn to when joining up.

Within this scope, the current restructuring of military careers must be sufficiently appealing to guarantee the continuity of highly specialized staff in the Institution, and to attract new volunteers to complete the requirements of the Armed Forces System.

Equally important is the availability of the necessary investment to ensure the operational readiness of the military force.

In the scenario of budgetary containment in which we live, only making the best use of the values and capabilities existing in the Armed Forces and by avoiding the duplication of structures and means, will allow freeing the indispensable resources for national defence.

It will nevertheless be necessary to continue the efforts in re-equipment, improving the level of performance of the acquisition and maintenance plans foreseen in the Law of Military Programming.

With these conditions complied with, the Armed Forces will be more apt to face the demanding challenges which are currently placed before them, as well as those which the future may reserve.

I refer, particularly, to those resulting from the Treaty of Lisbon, which place the common security and defence policy on a new stage of cooperation.

The devices for participation foreseen in this dimension of European construction, specifically the Permanent Structured Cooperation, imply high standards of effort in the issue of the development of military capabilities and in the contribution of forces and means, and also in the development of common programmes under the supervision of the European Defence Agency.


Throughout its history, independently from the difficulties and risks of each particular mission, the Armed Forces have known how to perform keenly and with honour in what is entrusted to them by the Nation, thus corresponding to that which the Portuguese expect from them.

The Military Institution has always been a notable school of citizenry, guardian of noble traditions, imparting to younger people fundamental values such as denial and sacrifice, cohesion, discipline and professionalism, but also courage, daring and love of the Mother Country.

The Armed Forces were, are and will always be a structuring component of national identity, a permanent value with which the Nation counts and of which the Supreme Commander stands proud.

I urge you, thus, to continue Portugal.

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