Prime Minister of Portugal

Speech made to the Assembly

Thursday, 28 April 1977

On your kind invitation, I already had the honour, as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal, to address you on 28 September 1974 during the 26th Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. By inviting me to make a statement at a time when Portugal had admittedly already overthrown the dictatorship but did not yet possess institutions enabling it to accede to the Council, the latter wished to show its confidence in the democratic spirit of the Portuguese people. By a coincidence and with the irony of which history gives proof from time to time, at the very moment when I spoke of this spirit and of my unshakeable belief that it would triumph in Portugal, the communists’ attempt to seize power began. It is therefore with great emotion that I recall this visit.

The Assembly has again invited me to say a few words as President of the first Portuguese Government to be formed since 1926 according to a Constitution drawn up by a Constituent Assembly freely elected by direct universal suffrage. This is a twofold honour for my country and myself.

Some two years and a half have passed since I had the opportunity to speak of the major social and political changes undergone by my country since the revolution and which could already be checked at the time.

I stressed above all the importance of the democratisation process which was beginning at the time and whose objective was to institute a pluralist democracy in Portugal. The manifold difficulties which the Portuguese people had to overcome to safeguard this fundamental objective are well known; they were caused primarily by totalitarian groups whose aim was to destroy freedom and democracy and to set up a political and economic system in Portugal which bore no relationship to our traditions or our aspirations. These obstacles were overcome thanks to a tenacious fight which Europe followed with anxious interest. The country’s democratisation plan was achieved: the new Constitution was drawn up and promulgated, elections to the Assembly of the Republic took place on the date set – the first parliament worthy of this name to be elected freely in Portugal for half a century – the Portuguese people were able to elect the President of the Republic by direct universal suffrage as provided for in the new Constitution. A first constitutional government was formed and, finally, last December, it proved possible to hold free and authentic elections to local authorities, also for the first time in fifty years.

At the same time as the democratisation of the sovereign bodies was being completed, the constitutional government undertook intensive action on the external plane which represented a realistic formalising of Portuguese interests, in keeping with our geographical, political, economic and cultural circumstances.

Thus, and this is not due to chance, one was able to note a kind of return of Portugal to Europe and the government’s persistent efforts to translate into practical terms what has already been called the “European option of Portuguese policy”.

In this context, the first major result of this policy, Portugal’s accession to the Council of Europe last September, represented a fundamental stage. It is not merely a proof of Portugal’s desire for closer co-operation with the democratic countries of Europe but represents also an affirmation of the European character of a people which seeks to recover its place on this old continent.

The salient features of our national policy and thus our European option reflect a subjacent, deep, cultural, social and economic reality. It is in Europe that the vast majority of our intellectuals and artists seek their inspiration, undergo specialisation and find their interlocutors. It is to Europe and not to other continents that for the past fifteen years over a million Portuguese went to work. Eighty per cent of our trade is with European countries. It is not surprising, therefore, that the Assembly of the Republic was almost unanimous in approving our accession to the Council of Europe, expressing thereby the wishes of a people which had recovered its freedom and attaches great importance to the values of civilisation which the Council of Europe voices and represents.

However, Portugal did not confine herself to merely joining the Council of Europe. From the outset the Portuguese Government intended to take a highly active part in its work and to try and develop, in its framework, more intensive co-operation with the other member countries. We signed the European Convention on Human Rights – the ratification procedure is in progress – and have already begun studying all the other Council agreements and conventions so as to be able to sign progressively as many of them as possible. In January, the Minister for Foreign Affairs thus signed on Portugal’s behalf the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, and precisely yesterday, three agreements and two conventions were signed.

At the same time, there was a notable intensification of relations between Portugal and the Council of Europe, as shown by the presence of Portuguese representatives in steadily increasing numbers at meetings convened by the Council or held under its auspices, and more recently by the latter’s frequent fact-finding missions in Portugal.

The Portuguese Government’s European policy has also been pursued by means of increasingly close contacts with the democratic countries of the continent, which have afforded our country the aid and moral support it needed to overcome the grave difficulties confronting it.

The recent application submitted by Portugal for accession to the European Communities was the culmination of a series of personal contacts which I established in all the capitals of the countries concerned. It was another step taken with a view to consolidating democracy in Portugal through political and economic harmonisation with Western Europe, which will help promote a more complete structuring of the young Portuguese democratic institutions.

Despite all the obstacles encountered on the way, the government is pursuing a firm policy, under the auspices of freedom and democracy, in the European choice it has made; indeed the only one capable of safeguarding both the individuality and the interests of our country. The course has now been marked out and we mean to follow it resolutely, well realising the difficulties of all kinds that will have to be surmounted. The young Portuguese democracy has not yet acquired all the experience desirable and we have to contend with a fragile, underdeveloped economy, ravaged by colonial war and by the demagogic excesses of the pro-communist economic administration of 1975. These are aspects whose importance and gravity must not be overlooked. We continue nevertheless to hope that European collaboration and solidarity, of which the Council of Europe is irrefutable evidence, will help us win through, not only so that Portugal may remain the free and democratic country it has chosen to be, but also in order to strengthen democratic principles in Europe as well as those spiritual and moral values which, as is stated in the preamble to the Council of Europe’s Statute, constitute the common heritage of the European peoples represented here.

Today more than ever the majority of Europeans realise on the one hand, the inestimable advantages of democracy, and on the other, the grave dangers threatening it. Today more than ever Europe as represented in this Council, far though it may be from political unification, recognises the interdependence of its constituent parts. Democracy and freedom are indivisible. Every citizen, every government, every country which supports Portuguese democracy is thereby supporting its own democracy.

Mr President, the Council of Europe has concerned itself with the problems of security and co-operation in Europe and with the preparation of the meeting on these issues which is to take place shortly in Belgrade. Two meetings on the subject have been held with officials from the capitals of the member countries, and the Council itself has considered the matter at ministerial level. The Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs had the opportunity to outline the position adopted by my country. May I, nevertheless, make a few remarks on the subject.

I spoke a few moments ago of Europe’s importance for Portugal. It is for this reason that we follow with the greatest interest all aspects of security and co-operation on our continent, an interest borne out by our representatives’ tireless efforts to foster bilateral and multilateral contacts of all kinds. We are therefore bound to welcome the Council of Europe’s growing interest in this question. The democratic states of Europe have a vital role to play in ensuring strict application of the Final Act of the Helsinki Conference. Public opinion demands that political leaders should ensure respect for these provisions, neglect of which would rob us of the right to speak of freedom, democracy and respect for man the individual. Our intentions are in no sense polemical; on the contrary, we want to help the peoples, through positive action, to overcome their present divisions, and we want to play a part in building Europe on foundations which leave no room for friction and rivalry. To make this possible, we must protect human rights, in accordance with the lofty moral values which underlie European civilisation. Portugal, a country in which these rights were systematically trodden underfoot for many years, sees this as a task of the utmost importance, to which it is devoting its best efforts.

Let there be no mistake about it. Détente is indispensable to effective co-operation between those states which wish to establish in Europe a climate of peace and prosperity, with favourable repercussions in other parts of the world. This is the only way in which we can hope to build European solidarity, to lay those foundations of peace, security and progress to which we all aspire. To ensure the development of friendly relations and co-operation, we must, as the Final Act makes clear, recognise the universal value of human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is only by defending human rights, which are inseparable from the dignity and growth of man, that we can ensure full and free self-realisation of the individual. This is the only valid and permanent foundation for friendly and fruitful inter-state relationships. This is the only way in which détente can progress and produce those positive results which we expect from it.

It is in this light that we view the forthcoming Belgrade meetings, hoping that it will mark a decisive step on the road to the building of a Europe without rivalry or hate. However, in striving towards this goal, Europe cannot afford to ignore developments outside its own frontiers. Thanks to her experience in Africa and to her historical and cultural links with Latin America, Portugal is clearly conscious of the importance of relations between Europe and the rest of the world.

In the context of détente, this is a matter of the utmost importance. Co-operation and security in Europe can be neither grasped nor brought about if Europe fails to understand the significance of developments in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Détente is indivisible. (Applause)


Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister, for your statement.

I must apologise to the Assembly for being so overwhelmed by the opportunity to greet our friend, Mr Soares, that I omitted to mention that he is accompanied by the Foreign Minister, Mr Ferreira, who is no stranger to us, and also the Permanent Representative, Mr Nunes.

The Prime Minister has indicated that he is prepared to answer questions, as is usual in all democratic assemblies. I would only ask members to be concise, as we still have a list of about thirty people to speak in the debate on the Security Conference. The first question is from Mr Valleix.

Mr VALLEIX (France) (translation)

Following on the President’s example, we have just shown the Prime Minister, as I am sure he realises, how honoured we are to have him with us and how warmly we welcome him to this Assembly, which he knows well, even if it is now meeting in a new place and a new style of architecture.

What is important to us is the progress of his young democracy, and he has been good enough to give us just now his impressions of his first contacts with his European partners, including the Europe of the Nine.

I hope he will allow me to put two questions to him on that subject from this wider Assembly. He knows how sympathetic we are to his approaches to the Europe of the Nine. What impression have his contacts with the different European Economic Community countries made on him as regards Portugal’s future accession to it? By what stages does he envisage the progressive integration of the Portuguese economy, and in particular its agriculture, in the Community machinery, and how long does he think it will take? Does he also consider that that machinery will have to be adapted in some way?

My second question is this: does Mr Soares think there will be any institutional consequences if the Community is enlarged to include Greece and Portugal, and perhaps Spain and Turkey? What does he feel will have to be done to prevent all that the Community has achieved being watered down and lost in a vast free trade area?

All these seem to me interesting points to raise inasmuch as he hopes, with us, that it will be possible to enlarge the European Economic Community by Portugal’s entry», while recognising that these successive enlargements may create fresh problems.

I think it would be very good for us to hear his thoughts on the subject of becoming part of the Community and at the same time keeping relations within it as close as possible.

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

On the first question, I can say that our contacts with the governments of the nine countries have been very successful and very encouraging for us. We have contacted all the governments of the Europe of the Nine. They told us they accepted our request for accession and encouraged us to present it formally, which we have done. But we cannot help seeing that there are difficulties; in the first place, the difficulty of harmonising our various policies with Community policy. But these are not insuperable.

In the second place, there are difficulties which stem from the Community’s own difficulties, to which Mr Valleix referred, in expanding from six to nine countries. And there are other countries knocking at its door, which in our view, should be admitted. But obviously we have to face the fact that in becoming larger the Community risks losing some of its substance. That is a challenge that the Community countries and the Community itself must meet. But the Community should regard it from a positive angle, for it proves that countries want to join and are knocking at the door. So I think the Community’s own problems will be solved too.

As regards how long we think our integration will take, in the first place, we have asked for our case to be judged on its own. We do not believe in lumping all such cases together. Some day perhaps, and we hope it will be soon, Spain may be in a position to seek accession, and perhaps, as Mr Valleix said, Turkey too. Greece is at the moment in a somewhat difficult position, as you know. But Portugal’s democratic institutions are complete; we are both politically and economically ready to join the Community. So we have asked for our case, Portugal’s case, to be considered by itself. That is why we have presented our request for accession.

A committee has been set up to study the problems of harmonising the different policies and giving an opinion. It has to do so by the end of this year. The negotiations for Portugal’s accession will, we reckon, when they open, take two years. At the end of those two years, we shall be able to join the Community as a full member, but we shall obviously ask for a five-year transition period as Britain did. That is how long we think it will take.

We are very optimistic about the approaches we have so far made to the Community.


Mr Prime Minister, do you believe that there can be no real peace in Europe unless there is also peace in the Mediterranean? In other words, do you accept that the security of Europe could not be divorced from the security of the Mediterranean?

I would also like to ask you, Mr Prime Minister, if you are of the opinion that in order to promote security and political stability in Europe and the Mediterranean the participating states should further improve their relations with the non-participating states?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

As I said in my initial statement, I consider détente to be indivisible. I called attention to the problems arising in other continents, such as Africa, America, particularly Latin America, and Asia. For a great many reasons, I think Mediterranean problems are enormously important for peace and security in Europe. Portugal is not a Mediterranean country, but it has sometimes been grouped with Mediterranean countries, which have always consulted it because they think that in view of our geographical position near the Western entrance to the Mediterranean our country is involved in these problems.

We are quite ready to study the matter and to enter into negotiations to establish harmonious relations between the non-European and the European Mediterranean countries.

Mr RADIUS (France) (translation)

May I ask the Prime Minister what support he expects from the European countries to help Portugal overcome the serious economic and social difficulties with which it is faced, and which President Eanes described in a recent speech.

Does he consider that the financial assistance the industrialised countries have so far given Portugal, in particular through bilateral and multilateral loans, is sufficient?

Does he hope to encourage foreign private investment, so far sadly lacking to his economy, and if so, what steps does he intend to take to guarantee its security?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

Portugal is indeed faced with two types of difficulty; in the first place economic and structural difficulties, which stem from the transformation of our national life. We have gone in for decolonisation and have granted independence to all our colonies. As a result, we have lost markets and sources of raw materials and foreign currency. So we have to reorganise our economic life. We also have short-term economic difficulties (they are not peculiar to Portugal; many countries have them) especially in relation to the deficit in our balance of payments. But we foresee getting rid of that deficit in four years’ time.

In order to apply an economic policy that will reduce this deficit, a loan, medium-term financial aid, is essential. We have applied to various European countries and to North America, the United States in particular. Because the Portuguese problem and Portuguese difficulties are not those of our country alone but could have repercussions on other countries, since without economic stability there will be no democracy in Portugal, and if Portugal’s democracy is threatened it may have a very serious effect on other countries, especially on Spain and the countries of southern Europe, President Carter has taken the initiative in asking for special aid not only from Europe, but also from other industrialised countries such as Canada and Japan, for the purpose of setting up a kind of consortium to provide special financial aid to Portugal. We are at this moment in the process of studying and discussing this possibility with our partners.

Regarding the private investment Mr Radius mentioned, we do indeed need foreign investment. In order to attract it we have published a code of rules for foreign investment which provides guarantees for the investors. Up to now, it has been considered entirely satisfactory by the various countries interested in the matter.

Some of the Ministers in our constitutional government and I have had discussions with investors from different countries interested in Portugal. Among others, I have had very extensive contacts with investors from Germany, America, Britain and other countries. Every time, we have provided explicit guarantees for these investments. And contrary to what you seem to think there is a renewal of confidence in the stability of our institutions. That is why new capital is now being invested in Portugal. Similarly, tourism has increased considerably this year, and the Portuguese workers, who were very careful in 1975 and 1976 not to send their savings back to Portugal, no longer hesitate to do so.

Mr COUTSOCHERAS (Greece) (translation)

After wishing the Prime Minister good luck for his country and all success in his efforts, I want to ask him two short questions.

In view of Portugal’s unhappy experience in the suppression of human rights, first of all, are the Portuguese not somewhat bitter about the governments of the democratic countries not taking action against their oppressors, and in the second place, does he support those who, believing in the universality of human rights, look upon any abuse of those rights, no matter where, as being directed against themselves?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

As regards Mr Coutsocheras’s first question, we are trying to be realists. We know what kind of world we live in. Of course, during the fascist period, we felt rather bitter about the democracies, which claimed to protect human rights and the liberty of the individual while doing nothing about the outrages committed daily in Portugal, in Spain and in the Greece of the Colonels. But I repeat, we are realists, and we know what the world is like. We do not consider being bitter to be very constructive. In addition, we believe that every country has its own forces for defending its human rights and freedoms, and that it is not good to expect help from outside. We believe the best thing is to rely on the strength and energy of one’s own people. That is why we are proud of having been able to free ourselves from fascism by our own efforts.

Everyone, in the East as well as in the West, was very surprised by the revolution of 25 April, which was carried out by the Portuguese alone without any outside help. In 1975, when the threat of communism reared its head in Portugal, we also had the good fortune to find the Portuguese people rising against it and imposing freedom on Portugal without, I repeat, any help from outside.

We certainly received many messages of sympathy and understanding, even of respect and solidarity, from all over the world, in particular from the progressive movements and the democratic parties. That solidarity and some of that support gave us pleasure.

Replying to Mr Coutsocheras’s second question, we do indeed believe that any violation of human rights in whatever country it occurs injures those who are fighting for freedom and democracy in their own country. But at the same time, we must avoid the tendency to submit international relations, which are complex, to a kind of perpetual moral judgement.

We shall soon be meeting in Belgrade. Rather than wishing to pronounce judgement there on those who do not respect human rights, would it not be better, even if we know quite well that they are not respecting them, to seek for solutions that can promote peace in the world?


Thank you, Prime Minister.

Is there a supplementary question?... No. There are four more questions down and we have then to close the list. The next question is from Mr Minnocci of Italy.

Mr MINNOCCI (Italy) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, now that Portugal is once more a democracy, her colonial empire has in practice ceased to exist. What relationship has Portugal established, or does she intend to establish, with her former colonies?

If I may be allowed that question, Mr Prime Minister, may I also put a further one? In the elections held not so long ago in your country, your own party gained a majority, but only a relative majority, not an absolute one. This obliged you to form a minority government. May I ask, Mr Prime Minister, whether you are in a position to carry out your government’s programme, or whether you are being forced to water it down because of the difficulties with which you are faced?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

I will reply first about the colonies. We did what decolonisation was possible, and I must say we did it rapidly and courageously. We acted as we did because our decolonisation was carried out twenty or thirty years late. The situation in the colonies had become very bad, and everything that is going on in the ex-Portuguese colonies now become independent sovereign states can in part be explained by that late decolonisation.

Now we have cut the colonial link which existed before and are seeking relations of equality and mutual respect between the independent Portuguese-speaking African countries and Portugal. It is not always easy, and we have met with certain difficulties, but Portugal’s cooperation with these new countries – for example with Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands – is encouraging and progressing well.

You know the difficulties we have about Mozambique and Angola, but we are making a great effort to improve our relations with these peoples by not interfering in their internal policy and by respecting their options on a basis of equality and mutual respect. I think these relations are improving in spite of the difficulties.

My answer to the second question must be that the Socialist Party, the governing party, is in, a minority. It represents about 35% of the votes cast. But in the present Portuguese parliamentary context there is no possibility of any great change because, under the Portuguese Constitution, the government must first of all have the confidence of the President of the Republic, who is elected by the people by direct universal suffrage, and secondly be given a mandate by the Assembly. We have in fact the confidence of the President of the Republic who appointed us, and we have been given a mandate by the Assembly. Up to now, although we are a minority government, there has been no vote of “no confidence” against us, and we find no great parliamentary difficulty in governing. After a full-dress debate on general policy, we had no difficulty in getting our plan and the budget adopted at the end of the year. When we were given our mandate some parties abstained, but none voted against us. At one moment questions were raised in parliament about our general policy, but at the end there was no vote of “no confidence”. So we have this sort of tacit approval by the Assembly and the confidence of the President of the Republic, and we can certainly continue to govern with confidence and in peace of mind.

Mr PIRES (Portugal) (translation)

I hope the Prime Minister will excuse a member of the Portuguese opposition addressing his government in French. Unfortunately, our language is more current in the rest of the world than in Europe, and Portuguese is not yet spoken in this building.

The question I want to put to the Prime Minister is about Belgrade. From Portuguese experience since 25 April we can certainly draw some conclusions about the sincerity of the communists when it comes to fundamental rights and the spirit of détente in home politics. Does he think there was some complicity by the communist countries, including the Soviet Union, in the violation of basic rights which took place in Portugal at the time of the pro-communist push in the Portuguese revolution?

My second question is more about home politics. In any case, I am seizing the opportunity to put it to the Prime Minister. Is he in favour of a parliamentary delegation attending the Belgrade Conference, or does he think governments only should attend?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

I quite understand Mr Pires’s putting his question to me in French. I have to speak French too. Of course he is right, there are 130 million human beings in the world now who speak Portuguese, since Portuguese is spoken not only in Portugal, but also in Brazil and in the former Portuguese colonies. It is the common language there.

So far as sincerity is concerned, I do not think that, in politics, there should be too much discussion of subjective questions. Sincerity or no sincerity, what matters is results, and it is even best not to have a lot of discussion about these subjective motives, but just to consider statements and attitudes because that can be helpful.

Regarding complicity by the communist countries when Portugal was under threat of communism, I have had a great deal to say about that, as you may well understand. Just after the Helsinki Conference, a conference of socialists and social democrats from all over Europe, including the heads of delegations to the Helsinki Conference, was held in Stockholm to discuss the protection of democracy in Portugal.

I asked them what they thought of the Final Act they had just signed and whether, if the communists seized power in Portugal by non-democratic means, that would jeopardise the Act that had just been signed in Helsinki. They all replied that they had put this same point to the Eastern European countries, and that for them Portugal was a test case. A seizure of power in Portugal by the communists by antidemocratic means would be a terrible warning to Europe as a whole.

I do not think there is any proof of direct interference by the East European countries in Portuguese affairs. In any case, as Mr Pires knows, we maintain diplomatic relations with all the East European countries except Albania.

Regarding attendance at the Belgrade Conference, the matter is now being considered. If most countries decide to send parliamentary delegations to that conference, we Portuguese have no objection whatever. But obviously for the sake of efficiency the question will have to be settled in advance. As a matter of fact, we are among those who do not think Belgrade should be a forum for propaganda by either side. On the contrary, we think it should be a meeting-place where concrete steps can be taken towards peace and security in Europe.

Mr GESSNER (Federal Republic of Germany) (translation)

Mr Prime Minister, I would like to ask you two questions. One of them concerns an aspect of your domestic policy in which I am interested if only because I was formerly Council of Europe Rapporteur on Portugal. I refer to the problem of Angolan refugees. May I ask you what the state of integration of these people who came to Portugal from Angola is today; for this is not only an economic and social problem but also, it seems to me, an eminently political one?

The second question concerns Spain. Would you be good enough to tell this Assembly how you view the future evolution of Spain? According to your assessment of the situation, are there likely to be the same ups and downs as we experienced in Portugal some time ago? In your view, do, or did, developments in Portugal exert an influence on developments in Spain?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

Concerning refugees, not only from Angola but also from Mozambique, I must reply that they have been one of the biggest problems we have had to deal with during the last year, because quite suddenly rather more than half a million people from Africa – Angola, Mozambique and other colonies – arrived in Portugal without money or possessions, practically destitute.

We had to put these people up and find work for them, give them money for themselves and their families to live on, and find them housing. As you can imagine, that was very difficult. It might have been thought at the beginning that these people would have provided a weapon for the extreme right in the country, because they arrived in Portugal after a somewhat traumatic experience, due to decolonisation and in particular to the conditions in which it was carried out. Fortunately, I can say today that we have been able to settle and absorb almost all these refugees, who are now working, and that many of them are even helping the country to progress and develop. We have devoted considerable sums in our budget to helping these refugees, who get an allowance which is larger than unemployment benefit and of an exceptional nature, because of the drama they have lived through.

We have also had proof of a great deal of international solidarity with regard to these refugees. Various countries, particularly the Federal Republic of Germany, helped us to transport the refugees by setting up an air bridge. Many other countries provided financial aid, the Scandinavian countries in particular, to help the refugees in every way.

I must add, however, that we are facing another and perhaps rather more complicated problem. Some of the people who opted for Angolan or Mozambique nationality when these countries became independent now also want to take refuge in Portugal. That is a matter that we have to bring before the international authorities.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking the European countries and the United States, as well as some of the Eastern European states including the Soviet Union, for their help, and in so doing to lay stress on all the positive things the international community has done.

Contrary to what happened in France after the end of the war in Algeria, this flood of refugees has fortunately not changed the political climate in Portugal.

So far as Spain is concerned, we had an official visit from Mr Suarez about two months ago, which went very well. We are hopeful and confident that Spain will develop in a democratic direction and we are completely convinced that the present Spanish Government, and in particular Mr Suarez, is determined to break with Francoism and to return to democracy.

But there are still a great many problems to be solved, in the first place because the old fascist machine remains intact in Spain. In Portugal, the political police were abolished after the revolution. Up to a point, the people most responsible for the past have left the country or retired from public life. But that is not the case in Spain, where the machinery of oppression remains intact and no one knows how it will react when the decisive moment for a break comes.

Spain is now preparing for elections, but they will take place in a framework fixed by the government. The Chamber to be elected will not yet be a constituent one. This means that the laws, and the Constitution as it stands, have been granted to the country by the government, but have not been voted for by the people, and will not be in the immediate future. So I can just imagine all the contradictory situations that will be able to persist in these circumstances.

It is my sincere wish and hope that the good sense of which the Suarez Government has given proof will prevail and that Spain will travel along a peaceful road to democracy.

The Spaniards acknowledge that Portugal’s experience has been of great help in the liberation of Spain, first in a negative sense, because Mr Suarez has no wish to be another Caetano, knowing the results of that, but also in a positive sense, because some developments and contradictions in the Portuguese situation are being carefully avoided by the Spanish opposition, including the Spanish Communist Party, which insists that it is Eurocommunist and in favour of political democracy.

Mr STAVROPOULOS (Greece) (translation)

May I begin by welcoming the presence among us of the Portuguese Prime Minister.

Greece is very glad to note that he is not in favour of his country’s accession to the European Community being lumped together with the accession of Greece, Spain and Turkey. As he knows, we are against it too. I think I am also right in saying that the European Community itself takes the same view.

The process of Greece’s accession to the Common Market is already far advanced. I thought I understood the Prime Minister to say that he recognised we were having difficulties with our negotiations. May I ask him to explain exactly what he meant by that?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

I am grateful to Mr Stavropoulos for giving me an opportunity to explain my point.

I did indeed say words to that effect. I am as much opposed to the grouping of applications as he is, and what is more, Article 237 of the Rome Treaty is quite explicit on the subject: each country has to state its own case.

I know that for Greece the process of entry into the EEC is well advanced and I am glad, because I consider myself a friend of the Greek people. Naturally there will be difficulties as in the case of every other country, but I am sure that Greece with its creative spirit can overcome them.

Mr MACHETE (Portugal) (translation)

Thank you for calling me, Mr President, and for thus giving me the opportunity, as a member of the Social Democratic Party in the Portuguese opposition, of greeting the Prime Minister of my country and putting a short question to him.

In view of the close cultural links between Portugal and the Portuguese-speaking African countries, our former colonies, now independent states, has our request for accession to the Common Market been discussed with them, since it may give rise to some difficulties?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

We have not discussed the matter with them because, just as we do not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of the Portuguese-speaking African countries, neither, obviously, do we wish them to interfere with what we decide to do. But we have informed all the Portuguese-speaking African countries of our decision and of how our negotiations with the Community are being carried out.

As Mr Machete perhaps knows, some countries – Guinea and the Cape Verde Islands – are very interested in these negotiations because they are associated with the Community through the Lomé Convention.

May I take this opportunity of thanking him for his greeting on behalf of the opposition parties.

Mr HOFER (Switzerland) (translation)

The Prime Minister several times mentioned the danger of a seizure of power by the Communist Party during the revolution. Does he think that danger has finally disappeared and that the Portuguese Communist Party now definitely respects the rules of democracy?

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

I do not think there is any immediate danger of a renewal of that attempt, because the threat from the Communist Party was due to what was known at that time as the Armed Forces Movement. At one point they were in the majority in the leadership of that Movement and were turning it in a certain direction. It was through the military that they were able to intervene and to become a threat by creating social unrest in business firms and by taking over the mass media, including radio and television. Now the military situation is quite different, particularly since the defeat of the Armed Forces Movement on 25 November, when the army was taken over again by a team of democratic officers.

Two days ago, we celebrated in two ways, both symbolic, the third anniversary of the April revolution. First of all there was a grand military parade in Lisbon in the Avenida da Liberdade. The Portuguese troops filed past the President of the Republic, who was an army man himself but had been elected by the Portuguese by a very large majority, and past the President of the National Assembly and the government. This means that the organs of sovereignty are in place and that they are respected and obeyed by the army.

The Portuguese army now sees itself as supporting the Constitution and the democratic regime in Portugal. It recognises that the army owes obedience to the representative civil authority. So for the present, and for the future too I believe, we have representative institutions that work and an army that sees itself as reorganised, obedient to civil authority and a respecter of the Constitution. It even sees itself as the guarantor of democracy and national independence, as everywhere else in democratic Europe.

But if the economic position is not good, if the difficulties we are now meeting with (which are great, as I said just now) get worse, if there is inflation which the government cannot control and social unrest in the streets because of the rise in the cost of living, those who want to transform Portugal into a totalitarian state will be given another chance to return and become a threat.

Unfortunately, I do not believe that the Portuguese Communist Party – I say this quite frankly without any wish to be controversial; I am merely saying what I think – has become a convert to democracy. At the Madrid summit, it was not among the Eurocommunist Parties that intend to work within the institutional framework of political democracy. If we read the Portuguese Communist Party’s official documents, which have not, in fact, changed since 1941, we see that the same Leninist idea of an active minority taking power is still the central theme, and that formal statements of respect for democracy are simply tactics. They do not represent a fundamental change of heart, as they do in other Communist Parties in Western Europe.


Thank you very much, Mr Prime Minister. It has been a wonderful experience to listen to your statement and to your answers to the questions put by members of the Assembly. I am certain that I am expressing the opinion of the overwhelming majority of the delegates when I say that you and the Portuguese Democratic Republic are assured of the solidarity and sympathy of this great European Parliamentary Assembly. We wish you God speed and every success in the future. (Applause)

Mr Soares, Prime Minister of Portugal (translation)

Thank you, Mr President.