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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
Faro, 10 June 2010

Mister Speaker of the National Parliament,
Prime Ministers of Portugal and Cape Verde and other holders of sovereign office,
Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Algarve, due to its geography and to the maritime passion of its peoples, has always been an important stage of support for the development of the relations between Portugal and other peoples and cultures.

Not far from here, in Sagres, the epic of the Discoveries finds one of its most relevant symbols. Prince Henry the Navigator set up residence there, mustered by the dream of reaching the East by sea, and it was there that a fruitful congregation was established with the arts of mariners and the skills of scientists.

Portuguese departed from here, five centuries ago, to Africa and the Indies. From here departed, in a more recent past, many of those who today belong in the ranks of the former combatants and those who currently, in the Armed Forces, perform humanitarian and peace support missions or develop actions of cooperation far from their Fatherland.

We commemorate this year, here in Faro, the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities. It is a day to recall the deeds and the heroes of the past that made possible the spirit of independence and freedom to follow our own course. It is a day to express the firm will to guarantee a sovereign future, capable of marking our presence in a World of accelerated change.

Nowadays, the security and the assertion of a State cannot be carried out in isolation. These demand, in the framework of international alliances, an increasing stake in cooperative security and in the diversification of dependencies, but does not dispense with the valuation of its own resources, capabilities and competences.

We must thus value the potential of the Country on various fronts, including that of the military.

It is important to be aware that the reduction in the capacity of the Armed Forces has historically coincided with the increase in national exposure and with the weakening of Portugal’s voice in the concert of nations as an independent and sovereign State.

Preserving the operational readiness of our Armed Forces is without any doubt a superior interest of the Nation.


In a difficult and demanding environment, the Armed Forces continue to perform their missions, with remarkable competence and dedication, in the most diversified situations and risk levels. Permanently exposed to the scrutiny of the national and international communities, they have earned great credibility and prestige with the Portuguese and with the international organizations in which we belong, and have good reasons to feel proud.

In Afghanistan, the international community is holding its main fight against terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime.

In line with the developments in the territory and the corresponding changes in the chosen strategy, Portugal, jointly with its allies, has reinforced its military contribution, resuming a demanding mission of tactical reserve, in Kabul, and also contributing towards the training of local forces.

This is a mission that involves significant risks, assumed by the national authorities with a sense of responsibility, but certain that Portugal must comply with its proportional part in international security, in the prevention of the increase in transnational threats and in the defence of the universal values which we care for, such as human rights, tolerance and people’s dignity.

On another hand, in command of a NATO force, our Armed Forces performed with great valour and courage the air and naval missions to combat piracy which, in the Somali seas, has placed in quandary the freedom of navigation and the safety of ships, cargo and crews.

In the Lebanon and in the Balkans, within very complex political and social contexts, we continue to support international efforts for peace.

Once again, the effectiveness and the capability to adapt of the Portuguese soldier have been revealed as essential for the success of the missions, for the protection of the forces and for the safety and well being of the local peoples.

A military activity which is possibly less known to the Portuguese, but which has accumulated successes since the 90s, is the technical-military cooperation with Portuguese speaking African countries and with East Timor. This area of cooperation has become a strong investment in trust, a key to the rapprochement to peoples to whom we are linked with singular historical bonds of familiarity and friendship.

Numbers leave no doubt as to the relevance of the technical-military cooperation and of its high return in terms of cost-effectiveness: throughout the last 20 years, 5,721 military staff from Portuguese speaking countries were trained in Portugal and 11,370 in their own countries, with the participation of a total of 3,323 Portuguese soldiers.

I greet our friends the people of Cape Verde and their Armed Forces, in the person of its Prime Minister, who accompanies us in this ceremony, a country with which Portugal maintains fraternal relations of cooperation.

The Armed Forces have not exhausted their capabilities in international missions and in actions of cooperation abroad.

The threats and risks which may affect the security of the Portuguese, outside of and inside our borders, and aid to the people constitute the core of the planning and of the actions of our Armed Forces.

As an example, emphasis should be given to the ready help provided at the request of the Civil Protection Services, in missions of fire surveillance and suppression which allow the freeing of more firemen for actions of greater complexity in direct fire fighting, and the support actions in the saving of human lives at sea.

In the disaster that the Island of Madeira suffered in February of this year, the availability and the readiness of the military in answering the requests placed upon them were unsurpassed.

In the hours of greater difficulty, the Portuguese know they can count upon their Armed Forces.


The conversion of the Armed Forces was evidenced, in the latter year, by the setting up of its Joint Command. Its implementation is now on course, and it is expected that it will lead to the necessary agility of proceedings and greater effectiveness in their joint use.

The excellence of teaching and training of the Armed Forces’ staff, comprising a solid ethical and behavioural training, is a priority that the implementation of the reform of Higher Military Learning should allow by providing an adequate response.

The reform of Military Health is a demand for the quality of health care rendered to the users and for the maintenance of a capacity adjusted to the operational needs of employment and projection of forces.

In recognition of the role of the Armed Forces in the building of Portugal I have associated them, since the beginning of my mandate, to the celebratory ceremonies of the National Day of Portugal, Camões and the Portuguese Communities.

It is with joy that we assist today at another step in the reencounter of the Portuguese with their History, when including in this ceremony the former combatants, to whom I want to address a special greeting.

We thus render a just tribute to those who, with undying courage and love for the Fatherland, were ready to give all for Portugal, including their own lives.

The country we strive for must be a country with a memory and deep respect for those who gave the best of their lives in the service of the Fatherland and who sacrificed themselves in the most diverse operational theatres.

The example provided by the life of our former combatants and the recognition we are demonstrating to them here must be a source of inspiration and motivation for all of us.


I exalt your patriotism, enlightened and voluntary, so that you continue ready to fight for Portugal, performing the missions you have been attributed such as you have done until now, with a heightened sense of duty, deep devotion and great honour.

Thank you.

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