Dspeaking at the third seminar organized by the Atlantic Center since its foundation, in 2019, and held today at the National Defense Institute, in Lisbon, João Gomes Cravinho indicated that the center is a “Government commitment” to “lead the development of a multilateral platform for dialogue and cooperation between all Atlantic nations”.
“It’s an ambitious but timely challenge. It has never been done before, but the times we live in force us to join,” he said.
According to the Defense Minister, the international context “continues to change rapidly and dramatically”, requiring that countries “adapt and use in the best possible way as tools that guarantee peaceful relations”, contributing “to global peace and security”.
Among the “vast challenges” identified in the Atlantic, Gomes Cravinho highlighted the “fight against criminal and illegal activities that undermine the security and well-being of populations”, the “potential impacts of the growing geopolitical rivalry” for the Atlantic and the “management of the human impacts of climate change”.
“It is therefore of vital interest to affirm the Atlantic’s centrality and unique role in the global economy, in international relations, in the fight against climate change and as a region of peaceful relations and cooperation,” he pointed out.
Recognizing that “joint work” and the development of “common projects that respond to the needs of all those responsible will take time and will be challenging”, Gomes Cravinho added, however, that, in developing the Atlantic Center, the Government bet on the “long term”, predicting that the center will last “several decades”.
“Our responsibility is to make the best use of the good relations, with long data, that Portugal has all the Atlantic nations to promote dialogue and cooperation”, indicated Gomes Cravinho.
In a statement to Lusa after the intervention, Gomes Cravinho highlighted that the Atlantic Center aims to use a “capacity for Portuguese dialogue with all Atlantic countries”, through three levels.
In addition to a political plan – which aims to create dialogues between Governments on the governance of the Atlantic -, the Atlantic Center also aims to promote collaboration in the plans of research institutions, so that “knowledge sharing and exchange of ideas in the Atlantic plan about the Atlantic”.
The Defense Minister also highlighted a third plan that involves “training and creation of resources, for example, on the West African coast, to deal with the problems of the sea in that region.”
Recalling that the “great themes of the Atlantic” do not “respect borders, each one does not stay quiet in his sector”, Gomes Cravinho stressed that, when he hears Atlantic partners talking about the region’s problems, he notices a significant difference in relation to what he hears when participates in meetings with their European Union (EU) counterparts.
“It’s not that it’s contradictory, it’s just that there is a manifest lack of dialogue and understanding on both sides,” he said, saying that this is a “clear illustration” of the “need” of the Atlantic Center.
Despite this, Gomes Cravinho believes that, among European partners, there is beginning to be greater sensitivity regarding the importance of maritime security in the EU’s defense priorities, indicating that even European countries that do not have a coast, are subordinated to the theme because “its imports and exports are often transported by sea”.
“Of course there are some countries, like Portugal, much more geared towards the sea than others, but I think that in the final version of the Strategic Compass [documento estratégico de defesa da UE, que se prevê que esteja pronto em março de 2022], if it is manufactured a manufactured to maritime safety, “he indicated.
Launched in 2019, the Atlantic Center is currently operating at the National Defense Institute, in Lisbon, and it is expected that, in 2022, it may be headquartered on Terceira Island, in the Azores.
After a conceptual phase, which aimed to establish what the Atlantic Center will be, the Defense Minister stated that the cosmetic center is now intended to “launch activities with much greater intensity”.
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