|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks Aboard the USS WASP
Lisbon, Portugal, March 2, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Admiral Ellis, Ambassador McGowan, Susan Brophy McGowan, Foreign Minister Gama, excellencies of the diplomatic corps, distinguished leaders of Portugal, I am delighted to be back in Lisbon and pleased that the United States could serve as a host for this gathering.
Captain Story and Commodore Read, I want to begin by thanking you and all the officers and crew of the USS WASP. You have given us a priceless opportunity to visit your amazing ship, and to do so in the very best of company.
I thank you for your hospitality this evening and want to express my appreciation, as well, to Portuguese diplomatic and defense officials for their help in bringing the USS WASP to this safe harbor.
Tonight is a night for celebrating. For America and Portugal are both formal Allies and longtime friends. From New Bedford to the Azores to Lisbon, our ships sail, our children swim, and our people fish in the same Atlantic waters.
Every year, more of our citizens visit each other, do business with each other and attend each other's universities.
And the names sound like music -- Viera and Medeiros, Pereira and Ramos -- dominate phone books not only here, but also in cities in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, California and all across America.
The United States is in your debt, for without doubt, our culture would be less rich without Portuguese influence; our economy less prosperous; and our communities less strong.
Ambassador McGowan tells me that even one of America's great actors, Tom Hanks, is Portuguese on his mother's side, which is obviously why he is so talented and handsome.
The friendship we celebrate tonight is of longstanding. Portugal was the first neutral country to recognize American independence after the Revolutionary War, a fact I will be sure to mention to British Foreign Secretary Cook the next time I see him.
In recent decades, our relationship has developed new and deeper dimensions. For half a century, we have been NATO Allies. And as our presence on this magnificent vessel attests, we take that status seriously on both sides.
More than a thousand military personnel are stationed at the strategically vital Lajes Air Base in the Azores. The spirit of cooperation there is so strong that our operation was designated last year as one of the finest of its kind in the world.
It is good that we work together militarily. It is better that we are Allies in the right cause, which is the defense of freedom and law.
The Portuguese people may be proud that a quarter century ago, when military dictators held sway over much of the world, the Carnation Revolution sparked a wave of democratic change. That wave has not yet crested, and we must see that it never does.
Last April, at the NATO Summit in Washington, Prime Minister Guterres made two important points.
First, he asked a question. Does our great Alliance have an enemy? The answer he said is "yes." "Our enemy is extreme nationalism, racism, xenophobia and ethnic cleansing." That is why, he said, we had become engaged in Kosovo. "And that is why we must succeed."
The Prime Minister's words could not have been more true. NATO would no longer be NATO if we had simply stood by and watched an entire population driven from its home in our Alliance's own front yard. Milosevic's campaign of terror had to be stopped; and NATO was right to stop it.
And NATO is right now to strive, in partnership with the UN and others, to help the people of Kosovo recover from conflict, rise above hate, and begin new lives in freedom.
But Prime Minister Guterres also made a second point at the NATO Summit. And that concerned East Timor. He did not say it was the Alliance's job to take responsibility for that distant land. But he used the Summit platform to remind the world that human suffering was not confined to Kosovo, and that human rights are universal.
Tonight, I want to congratulate the people of Portugal for their indispensable role in supporting justice in East Timor. If you had not, I am convinced there would have been no referendum; no success in halting violence; no effective international intervention; and no hope for a peaceful and independent future.
I am proud that, last October, a U.S. C-5 carried 50 tons of Portuguese vehicles, construction materials and medical equipment to East Timor. We continue working together to meet pressing economic, humanitarian and security needs.
East Timor must, in time, take care of itself. But it is hard to go forward when your children are plagued by sickness, your families separated, and your land ravaged. The people of East Timor need and deserve our sustained help. Tonight, let us pledge--we will provide it.
And let us pledge, as well, to join with others in bringing emergency assistance to the flood-stricken people of Mozambique. I am pleased that President Clinton has directed the deployment of search and rescue helicopters and cargo planes to aid in saving the imperiled and helping the homeless. Here again, Portugal and America are making common cause in a just cause, and letting the people of Mozambique and Southern Africa know that they are not alone.
As the Prime Minister noted in his remarks last year, the Cold War is over, but enemies of democracy still exist, and threats to freedom will continue to arise.
That is why we must remain vigilant and strong on both sides of the Atlantic, by implementing the Defense Capabilities Initiative, and ensuring that our investments in defense are both sufficient and smart.
That is why America strongly supports the development of Europe's Security and Defense Identity. We look forward to a Europe with forces that are modern, flexible and prepared to operate as part of NATO--or separately where the Alliance is not engaged.
NATO and the European Security and Defense Identity must have a cooperative and transparent relationship. Because this is not, as some believe, a zero sum game. A stronger Europe must not mean a weaker Trans-Atlantic partnership. The future demands--and we must create--both a more capable Europe and a stronger Alliance.
We must never let the bonds between Europe and America erode. These are the bonds that defeated Hitler and defended freedom through decades of Cold War. And these are the bonds that will enable to us to seize opportunities and defend against new dangers in the 21st Century.
I have no doubt that Portugal will continue to play a principled and unifying role. And full confidence that yours will be an increasingly influential voice in world affairs. Because Portugal's last 25 years provide proof that democracy can be very good for a nation's health.
In recent years, you have been a founding member of the European Monetary Union, served with distinction on the UN Security Council, created the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, and hosted the extremely successful EXPO '98.
You have done your part and more in Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor and Africa. And now, Portugal has gotten off to a very strong start in its Presidency of the EU. Which is a great bonus for me, because I will have the opportunity to return here with President Clinton for the US-EU Summit in June.
Together, we have entered what is called the global era. Of course, Portugal has had a global perspective since the days of Magellan and Vasco da Gama. But certainly, we are now embarked on a New Age of Exploration and Discovery. We are entering new frontiers of technology, learning new skills, modernizing institutions, and heading full steam ahead into a future that is as exciting as it is uncertain.
We live in a world that is being transformed, but we also know that some things have not changed.
The beauty of Portugal's countryside.
The glorious taste of its seafood and wine.
The energy and pride of its people.
And the strength and warmth of the friendship between Portugal and the United States.
Tonight, we celebrate our friendship, and look forward to sustaining it through the new century and beyond.
It is a great pleasure for me to be here with you this evening. I love seeing all our troops. I want you to know, I'm known for my pins, today's pin is a collection of all the insignia of all our arms forces.
So I'm delighted to be here with you and thank you so much for your gracious hospitality.
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