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Portugal - National Defence Policy

The National Defence must hold as fundamental goals, not only the capacity to guarantee the security of the Nation and its citizens but also the capacity to project security externally and to cooperate in the framework of alliance systems in support of peace and international security.

Thus, the objectives of the defence policy are: to guarantee the national independence, the integrity of the territory, the freedom and security of the citizens and the safeguard of national interests, as well as, in the scope of a cooperative security, the active participation in providing international security, in particular, in international crisis management missions of Humanitarian and Peace-keeping nature.

The present international security environment and the adequate response of the National Defence Policy point necessarily to both a wider concept of security and a more integrated defence policy with inevitable reflections on the strategic and operational doctrine, on the definition of command and control structures and on the missions of the Armed Forces.

As a matter of fact, the Portuguese Armed Forces have gained a prestigious international experience and have already given an important contribution to the international security, having started its participation in international operations in 1996 in the Balkans region, which was a decisive factor not only for the modernisation and prestige of the Armed Forces but also for the international credibility of the country.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) embodies the transatlantic link that unites Europe and North America in a unique defence and security alliance. NATO's essential and enduring purpose, set out in the Washington Treaty, is to guarantee the freedom and security of all its members by political and military means. To this purpose, NATO has provided for the collective defence of its members since its foundation in 1949. NATO has also acted as an essential forum for consultation on security issues of interest to its members, and as an essential pillar of peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area.

With the end of the Cold War, the Alliance took on new fundamental tasks, which include establishing security partnerships with democracies in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia. In response to changes in the overall security environment, the Alliance has assumed additional responsibilities, including addressing not only instability caused by regional and ethnic conflicts within Europe, as well as threats emerging from beyond the Euro-Atlantic area.

Portugal is a founding member of the Alliance, participating in missions in Kosovo (Kosovo Force - KFOR), in Afghanistan (International Security Assistance Force - ISAF), in Iraq (NATO Training Mission in Iraq - NTM-I) and in the Mediterranean (Operation Active Endeavour - OAE).

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - originally Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE), created by the Helsinki Final Act in 1975 - is an organization which has an approach to security that includes three dimensions: the politico-military, the economic and environmental and the human dimension. Portugal, that applied for admission in 1973 and signed, in 1975, the Helsinki Act, is one of the 56 OSCE participating States from Europe, Asia and North America, all in equal status. Due to its composition, it is the largest regional organization in the world, playing a fundamental role in peace-building, conflict prevention and crisis management.

The European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), the European Security and Defence Policy, is currently one of the most dynamic areas of the process of European integration. It has Portugals strong support. Seeing it as a benefit for the EU to have both civilian and military resources for crisis management, and aware that the challenges which arise at international level require ever-greater flexibility and variety, Portuguese diplomacy has strongly advocated strengthening this dual component of ESDP.

Portugal has contributed actively to ESDP missions, and currently has personnel in the missions to the Democratic Republic of Congo (the EUPOL police mission is currently headed by a Portuguese), Guinea-Bissau, Chad/Central African Republic, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Georgia, the Palestine Territories, and Moldova/Ukraine. Africa and Europe have been the particular targets of Portugals attention, and this indeed corresponds to the EUs own strategic priorities.

Strengthening the ESDP was on the agenda of Portugals presidencies of the EU in both 2000 and 2007. In 2000, the European Council of Santa Maria da Feira marked a fundamental step in the development of the civilian dimension of ESDP. And in 2007 the Lisbon Treaty introduced important and innovative elements in security and defence, including in particular the concept of Permanent Cooperation Structures, whose aim is to strengthen the EUs military capacities.

Capacity building for conflict prevention, management and resolution in Africa is another area to which Portugal is committed. This has acquired greater importance following the peace and security provisions of the EU-Africa Joint Strategy, which was approved during the latest Portuguese presidency of the EU.

Portugal also participates in various multilateral initiatives with implications for ESDP, in particular the proposed Euroforces (Eurofor and Euromarfor) and Eurogendarmerie. The latter will be presided by Portugal in 2008. Finally, it should be stressed that Portugal sees ESDP as complementary to the strengthening of transatlantic relations, and regards the development of efficient EU-NATO cooperation as being of the greatest importance.

Portugal has been fully committed in its participation in formulating the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), with a view to strengthening its role in the construction of Europe. This exercise is coordinated by the Directorate for Common Foreign and Security Policy Services (PESC), which has an across-the-board view of the activities of all the Ministrys other departments, and generally monitors national positions and actions in the many areas of foreign affairs, ensuring the necessary coherence and convergence.

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