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Dear Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen


First of all, let me express my thanks to Ambassador Elisabeth Eklund for taking the brilliant initiative of holding   a meeting of the EU Ambassadors accredited in Lisbon in the Autonomous Region of the Azores


It is an honour for me and it gives me great pleasure to welcome all of you.


You may not have noticed but I am wearing today a tie which we made for the first presidency of Portugal of the Council of the European Union, in 1992.

The motto that we chose then was “Towards the European Union” and our presidency was marked by the Treaty on European Union, signed in Maastricht and the Agreement on the European Economic Area, signed in Porto.

It was in the first semester of 1992, exactly 31 years ago.

We were then 10 member-states, the UK included.

A lot has happened since then. We are now 27.

We can be proud of the achievements we have reached. We have been, until recently, in a haven of peace and prosperity and enjoying a political and social democratic system approved by an immense majority of our citizens.


Nowadays, we are living in a time of great uncertainty.

The world changed on the 24th of February last year.

But as adversity builds our character, difficulties strengthen our unity.

The EU has reacted with determination.

NATO is stronger than ever.  It has been reinforced by Finland and soon it will be by Sweden. This is much welcome news.

The transatlantic relationship has been revived.


Unfortunately, the war is grinding on and we do not know when it is going to end.

But, what we know, for certain, is that the world will not be the same again.

Nothing should be taken for granted. 

Cohesion, firmness and vigour are essential. Capitulation is not an option.

Security and defence will be at the top of our agendas.

We must show that we are sufficiently strong to dissuade or counter potential predators and aggressors and that we are united in the defence of our values, way of life and the international law.

We must rethink the terms of global trade and strengthen our supply chain resilience.

Globalization, which has ruled our economies for the last decades, will have to be reorganized, if not reversed, so our security concerns are safeguarded and the economic distortions countered.

At the same time, we must continue our efforts to face the challenges concerning climate change and protection of the environment. The survival of our planet is at stake.


George Kennan, who wrote in 1946 the famous “long telegram” from Moscow, warned that we needed then a strong and cohesive domestic base if we were to contain the Soviet Union successfully.

He added that much depended on the health and vigour of our own societies. Every courageous and incisive measure to improve the self-confidence, discipline, morale and community spirit of our own people would be a diplomatic victory worth a thousand diplomatic notes and joint communiqués.

Allied unity and resolve and the patient acceptance of the need to do whatever it took, and for as long as it took, carried the day.


Let me tell you that, what was true then, is now, even truer today.

We must, without any doubt or hesitation, strengthen ourselves, our societies and our capabilities, either individually or collectively, reducing our dependencies and increasing our co-operative efforts.

What we did to overcome the COVID pandemic, we must do it in many other areas, defence and non-defence.

Together we will do it better, more efficiently and more economically. We need the collective will to act together and to ensure a strong co-ordination between member-states and EU institutions.

And we should preferably, whenever possible, rely on ourselves, particularly on strategic and sensitive areas, like cyber, maritime, space, digital, defence and innovation, as Mrs. von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, has clearly put it in a recent speech on the relations between the EU and China.


The Azores, Ladies and Gentlemen, with its strategic location, is a superb asset for Portugal, for our maritime dimension and for our external policy.

Our maritime dimension will exponentially increase with the extension of our continental shelf (to more than 2 million square kilometres, the 2nd largest maritime area in the EU, after France). The request for the extension of our continental shelf has been submitted to the UN in May 2009.

The Azores has been in the past, is at present and will be in the future at the service of our partners and allies, both in the EU and NATO.

It had a crucial role during the 2nd World War for the anti-submarine warfare and later on, in a number of occasions, namely during the Yom Kippur War, in 1973.

The Azores is also an important and valuable link between the EU and the USA, halfway in the North Atlantic.

It has been used by our American allies for over 70 years, under a Cooperation and Defence Agreement, for which I had the privilege to be the Chief Negotiator for the Portuguese side.

As you will have a chance to see this afternoon, the facilities of Lajes are exceptional, second to none. Maybe you don´t know that the base is one of the alternative landing runways for the US Space Shuttle and that the fuel storage capacity at the Lajes airfield is the second largest in the world outside the north American continent after Guam.

Let me also mention that there are in Azores 3 monitoring stations, one in São Miguel, another in Graciosa and another in Flores, which detect and register any nuclear related activities worldwide, which are run by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.


Ladies and gentlemen

Dear colleagues


We cannot afford not to do our utmost, by all means and ways, to preserve the Atlantic Ocean as a zone of peace and a frontline in the protection of our planet and our resources.

In this respect, the Azores has been considered by the well-known international NGO “Mission Blue” one of the 130 “Hope Spots” in the world selected for their contribution to the safeguard of the richness and diversity of their echo systems.

The potential role of the Azores in the fields of maritime, airspace and digital communications security must be developed and put into use for the benefit of our countries and of all of us. Initiatives like the Atlantic Center and the Air Center deserve our particular attention and support.

There is also a wide scope for joint scientific research.

These, are also areas, which will allow us to outreach the countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean of the Global South and to promote a co-operation with them with mutual advantages.

I am sure that the Regional and Defence authorities will brief you and will bring to your attention the projects which are under way in the Azores.

The Vice-President of the Regional Government has raised this morning two very important areas deserving our attention for co-operative actions, with potential for far reaching results: one was renewable energies and reduction of CO2 emissions and the setting up of an integrated network between the five islands of the central group of the archipelago; the other was a collective approach to address the serious educational and poverty  handicaps of the Region in conjunction with other outermost regions. I personally think that education and poverty should be priority problems in any society.

Let me finally underline the importance of this timely and opportune visit of the EU Ambassadors accredited in Lisbon.

Your direct and personal contact with the Azorean reality and the Azorean Regional Government and institutions is irreplaceable.                                                                                               

I am happy to see with us the Secretary of State for European Affairs, Doctor Tiago Antunes, who will address us later on at this luncheon. His presence is a clear sign that your visit has the full support of Lisbon.                                                                                                                                  

I sincerely hope that you have a pleasant stay in Azores, a fruitful visit and a safe return to Lisbon.

Thank you for your visit and “bon appétit”


Angra do Heroismo, 20th April, 2023


Pedro Catarino