Portuguese Foreign Relations

Before Portugal was liberated in 1640, it had been taken over by various countries. The Celts were the first to arrive in Portugal. They were soon taken over by the Romans. The Romans were followed by the Visigoths. Then the Lucitanians came, and lastly, the Spanish Moors took over.

As a small country with larger countries around it, Portugal had a weak place in world politics. Fear of attack by strong neighbors, mostly Spain, led Portugal to find partners to help them stay safe.  In 1386, Portugal and England formed theAnglo-Portuguese Alliance. This deal helped both countries.  The United Kingdom still honors this agreement today.

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Portugal has also worked to maintain political strength in the Iberian Peninsula. The Portuguese empire was the first global empire. It lasted for nearly six hundred years. There were 49 colonies spanning the globe. Over time, the local people rose up and claimed the right to rule themselves.  The last colony of Macau was returned to China in 1999. At this time, the Azores and Madeira outposts are the only Portuguese occupancies not attached to the country by land.

Portugal joined the UN in 1955. They were one of the first members ofNorth Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). They are very active in aiding the forces in the Balkans. Portugal also helped to found the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA). Portugal left EFTA in 1986 to formthe European Economic Community(EEC). The European Economic Community is now called the European Union (EU).

Portugal helped start the Community of Portuguese Language communities in 1996. The goal was to instill a stronger community feeling between the Portuguese speaking countries. Portugal is also an active player in the Ibero-American Summit, a yearly meeting of Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries in the Americas and Europe.

Portugal and the European Union

Between 1995 and 2004, the European Union gave Portugal major financial aid. Portugal held the presidency of the European Union twice in 2000 and a third time in the 2007. During their term in office, they worked toward making the Europe a more dominant force in the world economy.

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In 2002, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) was chaired by Portugal.  This group is an inter-governmental security group focused on better weapons issues and human rights, including the right to vote and free speech.

Overall, Portugal, despite its small size, is a country that is very involved in the matters that go on in the world around it. Portugal seeks to be a key figure in the European community, and it appears that the country is succeeding in this goal.

Portuguese-U.S. Relations

Portugal’s ties with the United States of America go back to early American history. After the Revolutionary War, Portugal was the first country to call the United States a free country. Colonel David Humphreys was named United States Minster to Portugal in February, 1791, and was given to him by President George Washington.

The United States and Portugal have always established a defense agreement to help each other.  The Lajes Air Base in the Azores has been a key place for aiding the United States. The spot gave American aircraft a place in Europe for half a century. Most often, this base is involved in international humane missions and counter terrorist drills. These security plans included recent tasks in Afghanistan and Iraq. The United States is able to get to Montijo Air Base and some ports through Portugal as well. Even in 2011, Portugal has stood behind the United States. They offered full support for America’s mission to find and kill Osama Bin Laden.

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Rather than call itself neutral or allying with any larger organizations, Portugal calls itself “Atlanticist.”  This refers to their belief in strong ties with the democratic European countries.  The United Kingdom, United States and Canada are most important.  This group’s goals focus on protecting Democratic values. This includes giving each other aid in defense, economic and security matters.

Portugal regularly allies with the United States. They hosted the Azores summit and backed the United States’ military presence in Iraq.  NATO’s “Joint Command Lisbon” or RHQ SOUTHLANT is in Portugal. This organization used to be known as the Regional Headquarters in the Southern Atlantic. It is found in Lisbon and speak for the pacts involved in transatlantic security matters.

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Trade between the United States and Portugal is very strong. $1.47 billion of goods were imported from the United States in 2006. In return, the United States imported over $3 billion of goods from Portugal. The Portuguese government is assisting in the development of stronger economic ties between the two countries. The overall volume of trading has decreased over time.

Tens of thousands of Americans live in Portugal and at least a million Americans of Portuguese descent are estimated to live in the United States.

The United States and Portugal have embassies in each other’s countries.  The Portuguese embassy can be found in Washington, DC.  The American Embassy is located in Lisbon.  The United States also has a consulate presence in Ponta Delgada, Azores and Funchal, Madeisa Islands.

 

 

 






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