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Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva of Portugal

January 11, 1990

The President. I was pleased to meet once again with a leader of a close and enduring ally -- and a good friend, as well -- Prime Minister Cavaco Silva of Portugal. This was at least our third meeting -- a very productive, substantive meeting. In exchanging views on the full range of important bilateral and international issues, we found that our relations are stronger than ever.

Today we're all witness to dramatic, momentous change around the world, especially in Eastern Europe. Future generations may call the present period a crucial turning point, but they will surely judge us on our ability to meet the challenge of change. Over the past two decades, Portugal has been an example of tremendous progress -- in overthrowing a dictatorship, consolidating democracy, granting independence to former colonies, and undertaking economic reform. We see Portugal standing as an inspiration and an example to Eastern European countries as they emerge from the darkness of political and economic authoritarianism. The Portuguese experience has demonstrated that peaceful, democratic change and economic progress are possible.

Mr. Prime Minister, today your country is a stable democracy, with a strong economy and a dynamic society. As a valued NATO ally, Portugal's important contributions to the alliance have helped keep the peace for over 40 years. Today relations between your country and the United States are better than ever -- based on equality, shared interests, and mutual respect.

As Prime Minister Cavaco Silva knows very well, security in today's world transcends armaments. It involves many factors: commerce, the environment, the fight against terrorism and narcotics, as well as military preparedness. The Prime Minister and I discussed these issues, and I'm glad to say we share a common perspective on strengthening our cooperation. We agreed on the need for close and constant consultations among our NATO allies and between the United States and the EC on the fast-paced changes that are sweeping Europe.

We also discussed the process of national reconciliation in Angola. Portugal has historic ties to the southern African region. We value the perspective and support they've given to President Mobutu's [of Zaire] efforts to mediate the Angolan conflict. When peace and stability come to that region, as certainly we hope they will, Portugal will have an important role in the reconstruction process.

You know, hundreds of years ago, Portugal's influence was felt in the furthest corners of the globe. From Macao and India to Brazil and southern Africa, Portuguese explorers showed the world what was possible. Today Portugal is again showing what is possible and serving as an example well beyond its borders.

Portugal's economy remains robust even as it undergoes reform. Foreign investment is growing. Nationalized firms are giving way to privatization. Through the Prime Minister's expertise, his own expertise, Portugal has opened up capital markets and cut taxes and brought to life a more flexible, dynamic marketplace. Portugal is clearly well on its way in developing its economy and deserves the support of all of its allies in its efforts.

Our two countries share much in common. Both traditional maritime powers, we value the marketplace of economic competition, and we treasure democracy. These common perspectives will serve us well as we approach EC economic union in 1992 and give us confidence that we can meet the challenge of change in the new decade, working together as allies.

It's been a great pleasure, sir, having you here at the White House. Good luck, and thank you for coming our way.

The Prime Minister. Mr. President, I would like to express to you my satisfaction for the meeting we had this morning which afforded the opportunity for yet another useful, open, and friendly exchange of views on our two countries' participation in the Atlantic alliance, the strengthening of our bilateral relations, and the new developments in the international situation.

Portugal's and the United States' positions are convergent as regards the new prospects, brought about by the recent developments in Eastern Europe, for the Atlantic alliance. As we have already seen at last December's NATO summit, the allies' cohesion and the reinforcement of its two pillars -- the European and the American -- are essential for the preservation of our security. I had the opportunity to stress to President Bush that the Portuguese Government is in favor of a continued commitment and presence of the United States in Europe, which is a key factor for Europe's own security.

We also concurred in our expression of solidarity with the peoples of Eastern Europe by furthering the ongoing democratization process and promoting adequate economic aid. I informed President Bush about the outcome of the recent meeting of the European Council in Strasbourg, where significant steps were made toward a European union and the building of a new Europe, and where a plan of action to assist the Eastern European countries was devised. The Portuguese Government strongly hopes that relations between the European Community and the United States will reach a high level of cooperation and mutual understanding in a way that reflects the existing political and security relations between Europe and the United States.

As regards our bilateral relations, I reaffirmed Portugal's commitment to pursuing its privileged relationship with the United States. Portugal's location, reaching deep into the Atlantic Ocean, the preferential relationship we have in the framework of the Atlantic alliance, and the staunch defense of our common values naturally lead us to the establishment of a special relationship as allies, which should be reinforced and diversified. Thus, I had the opportunity to state the Portuguese Government's intention to expand the framework of our bilateral relations so as to establish a broader and deeper relationship while preserving the existing cooperation in the areas of defense and security, and to suggest formulas allowing the extension of the economic, cultural, and technological fields within the present political mutual understanding.

In the prospect of a single European market, we want to develop new forms of increased cooperation and to promote joint investment by the economic sectors of our two countries. I note with pleasure that President Bush has a similar purpose, and therefore, we must now set the direction for more far-reaching and dynamic relations.

When we discussed the international situation, we addressed in particular detail the events in southern Africa, and especially the development of the peace process in Angola and Mozambique. I apprised President Bush of the conversations I had recently with the Presidents of those two countries and of the outcome of the ongoing consultations we maintain with the Angolan and Mozambican Governments, and expressed the hope that if all interested parties show a positive attitude it will be possible to put an end to the conflict that exacts such a heavy toll on the peoples of those two African countries.

Finally, Mr. President, I would like to thank you most especially for this opportunity to visit Washington and to meet with you, which I am sure has significantly contributed to our pursuing a very useful dialog on the ways in which we can strengthen the friendly relations that exist between our two countries.

Note: The President spoke at 1:21 p.m. at the South Portico of the White House. Prime Minister Cavaco spoke in Portuguese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter. Prior to their remarks, the President and the Prime Minister met privately in the Oval Office and with U.S. and Portuguese officials in the Cabinet Room, and then attended a luncheon in the Family Dining Room.

George Bush, Remarks Following Discussions With Prime Minister Anibal Cavaco Silva of Portugal Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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