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Speech addressed by the President of the Portuguese Republic to the Parliament of the Republic of Mozambique

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Guests,

I begin by thanking the Honourable Speaker, Dr. Eduardo Mulembwé, and the illustrious Members of this Parliament, for the invitation to address this Exalted Assembly, with which they have honoured me, a sign that denotes the strength of the Mozambican democracy. A gesture which deeply touches me and which I interpret as a reflection of the very particular nature of the bonds which link Portugal and Mozambique.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The challenges nowadays fronting Mozambique are very different from those which I had to face, 18 years ago, in my Official Visit as Prime Minister of Portugal.

The conquest of peace and democracy were then the country’s main priority. Attention was turned, internally and externally, to the need to bring peace negotiations to a sound conclusion, to the origins and development of which, as is generally known, I always kept a close track.

The implementation of the Constitution of 1990, which introduced the Democratic Rule of Law, was an extremely important step on the way to the signature, in 1992, of the General Peace Agreement, which would permit, two years later, carrying out the first multiparty elections in Mozambique.

Since then, Mozambique and its people have traversed great changes. Mozambique today is a country with an economic and social development which asserts itself within a framework of regular elections, with an increase of the people’s participation in public life and with the consolidation of democracy.

We can safely state that democracy is now deeply rooted within the people of Mozambique and that it is an asset placed in the service of the Country’s progress and development.

I could not find a better place than this to pay my sincere tribute to the clairvoyance and courage of the Mozambican leaders, of all political quadrants, many of them present here today, who understood that the only way to reach the ideal of “freedom, unity, justice and progress”, inserted in their Constitution, would be through peace, democracy and national reconciliation.

Today, more than ever, the merit of Democracy and of the values on which it is based is recognized as a prime factor for a fair and socially equitable economic development.

The priority in the fight against poverty and exclusion, the emphasis placed upon the valuation of the human capital of the country, and the improvement in the conditions of the people’s access to education and health care are, undoubtedly, owed to the climate of peace and democratic stability which the people of Mozambique were able to conquer.

The success accomplished must not however allow us to lose sight that the building of democracy, in any country and in any society, is a permanent challenge and a continuously developing process. All the State’s agents and institutions have a role to play in the improvement of the quality of democracy and Parliament, in this respect, has a fundamental function.

Parliament, as the supervisor of the acts of the executive, plays an indispensable role in the promotion of the Rule of Law and in the preservation of the balance of power that characterizes the democratic system.

I know that Mozambique will initiate, in the early future, a new electoral period which will include carrying out elections to Provincial Parliaments. This, I am certain, will be a further important stage in its democratic life, the success of which will be based upon the experience acquired by the various sovereign bodies of the State, amongst which is this distinguished Assembly, the political parties, the institutions responsible for electoral administration and the civil society itself, which, jointly, are becoming used to the exercise of their electoral rights.

Mister Speaker,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Portugal and Mozambique are well acquainted with each other. The bonds that link us are deep and lasting. We have a long common History, an excellent political relationship, converging interests and objectives, and we use the same language to become related with the world that surrounds us.

In addition to that, we share the same respect for human dignity, for the values of freedom, peace and democracy, for the right to progress and development, and a deep sense of mutual help and solidarity. Values which define who we are and that bring strength to the relations we aim for the future.

When sadness knocks on the doors of the Mozambicans, the Portuguese feel it very specially, as befits brothers. Just recently Portugal followed with deep anxiety the consequences of the floods that affected mainly the central zone of Mozambique, and let its readiness be known, from the first moment, to aid the Mozambican authorities to face this calamity. I want to assure you that we will always do our utmost to minimize the suffering of the Mozambican people and to help you overcome the adversities that the future may have in reserve for you.

I firmly believe in the strategic interest for our two countries of a strengthened partnership, based on mutual respect and common interests. Notwithstanding what has already been attained, I believe we can jointly achieve more and better.

I intend, with this visit, the first as President of the Republic, to acquaint and become better acquainted with the reality of Portugal and of Mozambique, to contribute towards the identification of the sectors where both countries may gather better advantages from their complementarities, and encourage Portuguese and Mozambicans to discuss means of reinforcing their bilateral cooperation and to act in concert internationally, defending our shared interests.

The current internal context of both Portugal and Mozambique, as well as the state of development of our political bilateral relationship could not be more favourable for the deepening of our cooperation.

Mozambique has shown it is heedful and prepared to answer the challenges it has to face in the global world in which we live. The rate of growth in the last ten years, and the progress achieved with respect to indices of social development, as a result of the ambitious plan of political and macroeconomic reforms and of the efforts of all the Mozambicans, has brought recognition to Mozambique as an example to be followed.

Added to these results are a growing performance and influence within international spheres, an instance of which is its integration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the assuming of increased responsibilities in important multilateral institutions, such as the African Union and the United Nations.

Portugal, in its turn, has also been through a period of accelerated change. Politically its deepening participation in the European Union has provided new opportunities and an enlarged field to assert the African vocation of its foreign policy.

Both in the European and in the International fields, Portugal has never relinquished raising African concerns, and proudly assumes itself as a privileged interpreter of Africa in Europe. It should not thus be a surprise that the summit meetings between Europe and Africa took place during the last two Portuguese Presidencies of the European Union, in 2000 and in 2007.

The II EU-Africa Summit, which was held in Lisbon last December, was the corollary of an intense political and diplomatic effort which Portugal considered indispensable in order to promote a greater approach between the two continents. However, without the strong contribution of our African partners and, particularly, of those countries which, such as Mozambique, share our convictions, it would not have been possible to achieve that objective.

The establishment of a Joint Strategy, prepared for the first time in effective partnership, which reflects on an equal footing the concerns and priorities of Europe and Africa facing the challenges they are fronting, is an unquestionable qualitative change in the relationship between our continents and a solid base to frame our future cooperation.

Let us have no doubts in this respect: Europe and Africa need each other and the deepening of their strategic partnership shall be, more and more, an indispensable bearing for the promotion of a fairer and more stable international order, and of a more equitable and sustainable development on a worldwide scale.

The materialization of the Millennium Development Objectives, the fight against illegal immigration and climate change, the cooperation in issues such as energy, science and the information society, are some of the areas which Europe and Africa want to approach jointly. These are, as well, sectors which we consider to have priority in our bilateral cooperation with Mozambique.

Portugal and its economic institutions are awake to this reality, investing in the internationalization of its partnerships, in scientific and technological development and in innovation, as a means to face the challenges of global competitiveness in our times. Africa, and particularly Portuguese speaking Africa, has been, in this context, a priority destination for a growing number of Portuguese companies and investments.

I am accompanied in this visit by a large entrepreneurial deputation, consisting of high level decision takers, representative of some of the more dynamic sectors of the Portuguese economy. Their presence and motivation give us reason to believe that we are facing a new dynamism in respect of volume of trade and investment flows between our two countries.

A new dynamism in line with the political endeavour and the spirit of friendship and cooperation, an example of which were the negotiations for the reversion of the Cahora Bassa hydroelectric scheme to the State of Mozambique, an historic marker in the relationship between our two countries.

The agreements entered into during this Visit, both official and entrepreneurial, are a clear sign of a shared will for the strengthening of our relations in all fields.

Mister Speaker,
Members of Parliament,

This morning I will also have the opportunity to take part in the opening ceremony of a Conference on the topic “Portuguese, a Global Language”, opportunely organized, in partnership, by the Eduardo Mondlane University, by the Pedagogic University and by the Camões Institute.

Participating in this Conference will be individualities from several areas, such as literature, music, cinema, research and learning, not just from Portugal or Mozambique but also from other Portuguese speaking locations.

This is an important strategic initiative, not just due to the richness of the chosen themes and the quality of the participants and of the involved institutions but, above all, because it interprets the sense of a shared responsibility in the defence and promotion of the Portuguese language in international spheres.

Our language is nowadays a heritage common to 8 sovereign States and to more than 220 million people spread over 4 continents. In addition to the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, Portuguese is spoken in several international organizations such as the European Union, the African Union, the Iberian American Community of Nations, Mercosur, the Latin Union or UNESCO, and as such is a powerful tool for the assertion of our values, of our interests and of our way of approaching the world.

I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to render tribute to Mozambique and to the Mozambican people for the much they have done, through cinema, literature, music or oral tradition, for the enriching and the vitality of the Portuguese language. We must never forget that this reality occurs in a particular framework, in which the statute of the Portuguese language has the same dignified standing of the remaining languages in which Mozambique expresses itself.

Because we understand the valuation of the Portuguese language as a vital strategic interest for us all, I can confirm that this will be one of the priorities of the Portuguese Presidency of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), which we will take up in the beginning of the second half of 2008. The challenge which I now launch is that we jointly reflect about the path to follow to assert our language more and more in the international context, using it as a trump card in the face of the challenges brought by the global world of our times, challenges that we all have to answer.

Mister Speaker,
Distinguished Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is no secret that Portugal has a President with Mozambique in his heart, a President who will do all in his power to attain a closer relationship between two sister countries which have mutual love and respect, because he is firmly convinced that this is the path that will allow us to stand up to all that the past has left us, and to the hope with which we must face the challenges that the future places in front of us.

A President who thanks you, once more, for the honour you afforded him to share a few thoughts with the representatives of the People of Mozambique, in this House of a Democracy so hardily conquered.

Thank you very much.


© 2008 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic