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Toasts of President Reagan and President Antonio dos Santos Ramalho Eanes of Portugal at the State Dinner

September 15, 1983

President Reagan. Mr. President, this morning I mentioned the gratitude that all Americans feel for the part that Portuguese immigrants and their descendants have played in building our nation. And tonight, I must tell you that I owe a personal debt of gratitude to Portugal for another reason: It was in 1542 that a Portuguese explorer, Juan Cabrillo, discovered California, the State that is closest to my heart. [Laughter]

But, Mr. President, this morning we had a chance to explore issues that concern us both. Our discussion about relations between our two countries, our common support for the NATO alliance, and our close consultations on southern Africa demonstrate how much our nations share a firm commitment to freedom and peace.

Americans esteem those who rise from humble beginnings to positions of national service. You and Mrs. Eanes have probably seen the Lincoln Memorial, the monument to a President who began life in a simple log cabin. In many ways your own life parallels that of Lincoln, for you, too, began life in modest surroundings, then rose in the service of democracy to your nation's highest office.

And, Mr. President, we honor you for that achievement. You once stated your determination that the Portuguese people will have their democracy. Today, the Portuguese people do indeed have their democracy and Portugal, fully committed to political and economic freedom, has taken its rightful place among the democracies of the West. As a full and active participant in the NATO alliance, Portugal has proven its willingness to help defend the Western community of nations and the values for which that community stands.

Portugal has thus earned a reputation as a staunch and reliable ally. The security relationship between our two countries has for many years been one of full cooperation and complete mutual respect. Our negotiations for a formal renewal of the security relationship are going well, and I have every confidence that the new agreement will strengthen the security of the West and enhance Portugal's already vital role in the Atlantic alliance.

We in the United States understand the benefit of alliances between allies, and we intend to help Portugal meet its military and economic needs. This is a simple matter of amizade, of friendship. I didn't place the emphasis on the right syllable, but that's as close as I could get. [Laughter]

So, in the spirit of that long and warm friendship between our two nations, Mr. President, I propose a toast to you and to the Republic of Portugal.

President Eanes. President Reagan, Mrs. Reagan, distinguished guests:

Gatherings like this among friends and allies always constitute pleasant social occasions to get to know and to understand each other better. They are also political occasions for affirming our common democratic commitment. And this is, in fact, the strongest reason for our easy and natural mutual understanding.

In the past, when Portugal lived under a dictatorial regime, it might have been considered an uncomfortable ally. Kept for decades apart from democratic life, the Portuguese are well aware of the difference that exists between imposed obligations and freely chosen positions.

Today, we can affirm our presence in the Atlantic alliance and assume within it all the necessary positions with the certainty that these positions are supported by the Portuguese people. For that reason, within the framework of the express will of the Portuguese people, we are a responsible ally of the United States with natural and justified expectations.

The deep historical bonds and existing common interests are now strengthened by the common identity of our pluralist democratic political systems. Peoples understand each other more easily and support each other with greater determination when their political institutions have similar modes of action and similar legitimacy.

In our opinion, the world of today clearly confirms that foreign policy involves societies as a whole. For this reason, the harmony of decisions and the continuity of political action have shown themselves to be of such importance in achieving truly consequential objectives in conditions of security, social support, and the furtherance of democracy.

It is only natural for a Portuguese to cite his recent experience of the establishment of a democratic regime in order to underline the importance of internal social conditions for the security and the permanence of external alliances. And it is for this reason that I should like to stress the concern with which I follow the evolution of economic indicators, which point to the need for a joint and determined effort to reorganize this vital sector of contemporary society.

And this is essential for all those who believe in the superiority of the democratic system. In our view, it is also a necessary condition in order to ensure the security not only of each of the democracies but also of the Atlantic alliance itself, and for achieving useful cooperation with various regions of the world.

As a result of the talks that we have been holding, Mr. President, I am further strengthened in my conviction that your statesmanship, sir, is an essential contribution to our mutual commitment to peace and to the strengthening of democratic societies, for these are the necessary conditions for the continuity of political action and for harmony in the decision-making process which will lead to a new era of progress and prosperity.

Mr. President, you have the courage to show firmness in the defense of democratic values and determination in guaranteeing their security, and these are qualities which deserve our sincere admiration.

In this context, it is right that our close friendship should be seen together with our position as a responsible ally which has definite expectations. I am sure that by truly expressing our respective interests, based on democratic legitimacy, we are certain to be able to find ways in which our means and our wills can complement each other in such a way that we will lead to mutual commitments and to joint action.

This is the challenge of our day, when the uncertainties of changing times call for the greatest firmness in the affirmation and defense of democratic values.

Ladies and gentlemen, may I invite you in this spirit of responsibility and friendship to join me in a toast to President and Mrs. Reagan, to whom I wish the greatest happiness and through whom I address to all Americans our best wishes for happiness and prosperity.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 9:40 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. President Eanes spoke in Portuguese, and his remarks were translated by an interpreter.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts of President Reagan and President Antonio dos Santos Ramalho Eanes of Portugal at the State Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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