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Reenacting the empire by peacekeeping: extending Portuguese influence through peacekeeping diplomacy.

PORTUGAL PRESENTLY RANKS forty two in a list of 115 countries contributing to the United Nations (UN) peace operations, also known as Peace Support Operations--PSOs. It has 343 military staff deployed abroad, of which 193 policemen, 144 military and 6 military observers. (1) PSOs are crisis response and limited contingency operations undertaken to respond to emergencies, conflicts and humanitarian crisis. They engage in organised multinational efforts and involve mainly military personnel to contain conflict, redress the peace, shape the environment to support reconciliation and rebuilding and to facilitate the transition to legitimate governance. (2) Most PSOs are authorised by the UN Security Council, but a number of important intergovernmental organisations also engage in peacekeeping, including European bodies, such as the European Union (EU), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

Portugal is currently the seventh country in Europe in terms of its contributions to UN peace operations (including Russia), which is a significant demonstration of the effort expended by a small country with limited resources. During the year 2008, Portugal had on average 662 soldiers deployed outside the national territory, with the armed forces committing formed units and members of the three military branches in 16 operations in different places, under the aegis of NATO, the EU and the United Nations. (3) In perspective, since the 1990s, Portugal has committed more than 25,000 soldiers, who participated in peace missions in over thirty different scenarios, covering all the continents of the world. (4) The multiplicity of forces used, as well as the diversity of the locations of their projection, reflect the ambition and the effort made by the Portuguese governments in the last twenty years. As Marques Guedes and Elias have stated, "perhaps never in our long history, even at the height of the imperial expansion, has the Portuguese state been involved in such a wide force projection a little bit everywhere'. (5) It has not always been that way.

In the aftermath of World War I (WWI), Portugal adopted a policy of neutrality and non-interventionism in the European scene. This stance was shielded by the principles of non-intervention, respect for state sovereignty, and belief in the principle of neutrality, a cardinal principle inherited from the time of A. de Oliveira Salazar, which had yielded such good results during World War II (WWII), since it kept Portugal out of the war. In the aftermath of the war, Portugal set itself apart from the European mainland until the 1974 Revolution, which overthrew the dictatorial regime of Salazar. The major reason was because the Portuguese armed forces were engaged in three war fronts in Africa, which sucked the energies of the country for fourteen years.

In the post-Revolution period, the national defence priorities laid mainly in the maintenance of transatlantic relations and strengthening of the ties with the former African colonies. The dominant paradigm shared by political and military circles postulated an "exclusivist Atlanticism', that is, attachment to NATO and unremitting loyalty to NATO's major power: the United States. Portugal was a founding member of NATO in 1949, although it was a dictatorship. Attachment to the Alliance and to Washington became strategic pillars of Portuguese foreign and defence policies. After the Revolution and until the early 1990s, in some quarters, an attitude of isolation prevailed, especially among the military, mixed with alienation towards Europe, or at best, an attitude of "cooperative" neutrality. (6) Portugal applied to the European Communities in 1977, but it only joined in 1986, after a long and difficult period of negotiations. Throughout the democratic consolidation period, Europe was a novel and recent context to which Portugal had not completely adapted to and towards which it still felt a certain distrust, to the exception of the economic field.

This position has manifested itself clearly during the Gulf War in 1991. When the conflict began, the Portuguese position was clearly aligned with the coalition, but from a military point of view, as the then Foreign Minister stated, Portugal was a "non-belligerent" state. (7) Portugal provided facilities in the Azores and in the mainland, but was not part of the military coalition involved in the Gulf. Portugal participated in the framework of NATO Naval On-Call Force Mediterranean (NAVOCFORMED), which conducted training and surveillance in the Mediterranean sea lines of communication.

However, by this time, a transformation in the attitude of the Portuguese military was in act. Once the transition from dictatorship was completed, democratic consolidation and political stability achieved, political-military relations were back on track. The military corps sought a new rationale: a participation in post-Cold War missions.

With the end of the Cold War and fundamental changes taking places in international relations, the character of international conflict has undergone seemingly differing configurations. The new threats required new means of response on the part of states. Portugal was forced by the new situation to shift its traditional Atlanticist and African paradigm of defense. Portuguese participation in PSOs is the result of a changing security environment, especially with the end of the Cold War and the proliferation of a new set of risks and threats. At the transnational level, there are several new issues of concern, such as the phenomenon of organized crime, terrorism, fundamentalism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or environmental risks, humanitarian disasters and pandemics. At the substate level, Portuguese officials point to the emergence of failed states, violent conflicts and civil wars, such as the ones that occurred in the Balkans in the 1990s and those that fester in Africa, which have become current and represent, directly and indirectly, a threat to European security and stability. (8)

Security now encompasses interests beyond those traditionally considered as vital, sometimes materialized far away from the base of the state. Due to the globalization process, the permeability of borders has increased. The security concept, as Portuguese authorities acknowledge, is flexible, which requires from sovereign states a new kind of understanding of their integration in the international community. Portuguese politicians have acknowledged that the concept of security, particularly in the post-Cold War assumed a broader meaning that goes far beyond the protection of the national borders against military threats, as was been evidenced in NATO's Strategic Concept (1991 and again in 1999) and the EU (2003 and in 2008).

In the Portuguese case, a defining issue comes into play: the accelerated change in the geographical boundaries since the 1960s. With the independence of the colonies in Asia and Africa, the handover of Macao to China (1999), through to membership of the European Communities, there were obvious implications for the traditional concept of sovereignty and of national border. Several Portuguese scholars and military thinkers have highlighted that the notion of sovereignty and border need to be reevaluated in view of the assertion of the country in the various areas where it is inserted. According to Adriano Moreira, Portugal has a security boundary that basically coincides with that defined by NATO, an economic and a political border which tends to coincide with the EU, and a cultural boundary, which corresponds to the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), to which one can add the border of vulnerability, in the words of General Garcia Leandro. (9)

In spite of the different interpretations about the opportunity of intervening in the Balkans, Portuguese defence policy began to recognise that, on account of Portugal's membership in the European Union and NATO, as observed by the then Defense Minister, the country's security border no longer coincided with its geographical border. Portugal's strategic interests--while still embracing the Atlantic--now also included Europe and its southern fringe, thus making the Balkans an area of interest to Portugal: (10) "Portugal also has strategic and security interests, not only the Atlantic, but also in Europe, particularly in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and that is why the Balkans are today, an area of interest to Portugal." (11)

In the new international security framework, and considered the different aims of the defence policy, the international organizations and systems of alliances to which Portugal belongs, the missions of the Portuguese armed forces have changed in order to fit this framework and respond to the new priorities. Since the 1990s, the military have been entrusted primarily with international missions of a military nature, namely in the realm of NATO and the EU's European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP). It has been engaged in international missions in support of foreign policy, in particular, in crisis management, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations in the framework of international organizations of which Portugal is a member, including the UN, EU, NATO, OSCE and the CPLP. A further argument advanced since the 1990s is that defense matters and, above all, international security, must be thought in an international, cooperative framework. (12) Today more than ever, security and defense are required to ensure the integrity of the Portuguese "border of interests" in a collective framework. Thus, a major line of the official speech is the statement that Portugal must be a "producer of international security", that it must shoulder its responsibility and provide a contribution to international peace and stability, within the UN and other alliances, namely NATO and the EU. This has undoubtedly become an essential pillar of the national defense policy. Along this line of thought, a new doctrine of intervention was elaborated, no longer determined only by historical factors and geographical proximity, but which takes into account criteria for international security.

The military has thus been depicted as an "arm" or instrument of foreign policy, (13) one more vector of the state's foreign policy. (14) It is meant to contribute significantly to increase the visibility of the country at international level, to strengthen its bargaining power and political leverage. It must help to shape, according to Freitas do Amaral, a new National Strategic Concept based on triple internationalisation: in Europe, in cooperation with the African Portuguese-speaking countries and in PSOs. (15)

Portugal can only have international visibility and viability, if it guarantees its sovereignty while fully integrated in the international community, willing to contribute to common goals, aware that the only effective legitimacy is the one that is exercised and the sole contributions which are appreciated, are active contributions. (16) Sovereignty is not fulfilled simply because it is a given or part and parcel of official rhetoric: thus, Portugal must also be willing to defend its national interests in the great spaces where it operates and to have the adequate means to do so. (17)

Portugal sees its participation in building a European defense, that is, a European Union with increased responsibilities for peace and security, as a major contribution to the development of effective multilateralism and as an opportunity to show its added value. A small and geographically peripheral country, Portugal considers it is crucial to be present in all core groups of integration, including ESDP, and participating in military missions under the command of the European Union. (18) In the same vein, peacekeeping operations of the United Nations are an important statement of the global dimension of Portuguese foreign policy, enabling it to keep a level of commitment and reasonable visibility. (19)

Portugal remained attentive to all the changes occurring in the external environment, which had domestic implications, driving a redefinition of foreign policy and national defence priorities. Portugal, which had not intervened in situations of conflict in Europe since WWI, was forced by the new situation to develop a new strategic culture, and a new doctrine on intervention and the use of force.

When Portugal took over the Presidency of the European Community in January 1992, converted its hierarchy of values, adopting a stronger and more coherent stance in European political and defence affairs, especially against the background of ethnic violence that threatened the stability of the continent.

The issue of the Portuguese participation in the operation in Bosnia came up during the last phase of the Social Democratic Party's government, in 1994, while still planning Operation Determined Effort to withdraw UN forces from the ex-Yugoslavia. The government signalled the EU partners that it was willing to participate in a "solidarity participation." To this end, it issued instructions to start the preparation of mission ready combat and support forces for the conduct of a potential joint and multi-national operation. However, it was the socialist government of Antonio Guterres, voted into office by the parliamentary elections of October 1995, who had to take a decision about the Portuguese participation in IFOR (Implementation Force), (20) and later SFOR (Stabilization Force) (21) to implement the Dayton peace agreement. (22)

Following the Dayton agreement, UN forces were withdrawn and NATO launched Operation Joint Endeavor and IFOR, the hypothesis of a Portuguese intervention in Bosnia was brought up. Arguments confusing and dissonant at times were put forward against Portuguese involvement in this operation. The objections against the intervention basically were three. The first argument had a historical gist: a country with an Atlantic and African vocation, Portugal had no tradition or historical relation to the Balkans. The second argument assumed that Bosnia, the Balkans, and the European theater, in general, were beyond the areas of strategic interest of Portugal. Finally, a third objection, which integrated the former, and pointed to the issue of national interest: Portugal had nothing to gain from the mission in Bosnia; more importantly, having limited resources, Portugal should only engage in areas of strategic interest, particularly in Africa.

This whole speech was rooted in traditional assumptions of strategic thinking that depicted the country as Atlantic and African, with no interests in Europe, such as was evinced by the dramatic Portuguese intervention in the Great War of 1914-1918. As far as the European theater was concerned, what was often not said, but was always present in that strategic line of thought was that, whenever Portugal had intervened militarily in Europe, it had always lost and paid the costs of intervention. And indeed, in the twentieth century, the first intervention of Portugal in the European theatre in WWI and, above all, its dramatic debacle, ultimately legitimized that discourse and gave it force, whether at the diplomatic, or at the military level.

As a result of geopolitical conditions and long-term historical movements, Portuguese society was mostly anti-European, in part due to its peripheral geographical position and record of international integration. Historically dominant, this movement was reflected in a long tradition of political and diplomatic persuasion, as well as in the formulation of strategic and military thinking, and could basically be translated into two or three key ideas: first, a dichotomy or opposition, a sort of predicament between Europe and the Atlantic; the second,--a consequence of the former--the country has no interests in Europe, because the vocation of Portugal is maritime; thirdly, the maritime vocation concentrated in two vectors of external policy--the Atlantic and the Empire. The Empire laid credence to this particular "colonial vocation" leading Portugal into constructing several imperial cycles: from India to Brazil, to end the cycle with the African empire.

The Atlantic priority was the result of ancient historical alliances which Portugal fostered because it was a maritime power: first, in the 14th century, with the old English Alliance; after 1945, with the decline of England, a privileged alliance with the United States, and from 1949 onwards, a multilateral alliance, NATO. (23)

This line of argumentation, articulated in the preparation phase and in the early days of the launch of the operation, lost strength and acumen, because the results showed precisely the opposite. The socialist government of A. Guterres committed to participate in the international mission in the ex-Yugoslavia with a significant military contingent. When NATO assembled IFOR, the Portuguese troops were ready to go to the ground, although IFOR was not a traditional peacekeeping operation, since to impose peace it was entitled to use force: a so-called enforcement operation.

In January 1996, Portugal sent a contingent of more than 900 components, consisting of 687 elements of a combat unit, the 2nd Battalion of Automated Infantry, and 225 elements of the Support Service Detachment. The prestige acquired by the deployed forces was significant due to the positive performance that the military demonstrated in the implementation of operational tasks and a capacity to adapt to the demands of a complex mission. It is relevant to point out the Portuguese effort in material terms, but, particularly, in human terms, due to the ratio between number of soldiers /population and number of soldiers/armed forces as a whole. Portugal ranked in the seventh place among all 34 participant countries. (24)

The decision to participate in IFOR actually marked a profound change in Portuguese defense, by abandoning the policy of neutrality and non-intervention and adopting a positive and active role in the defense of peace in Europe. Antonio Vitorino, defence minister at the time, explained Portugal's determination to play an active role in building a democratic and stable Europe and justified the intervention as a "political development of the area to which we naturally belong: Europe". (25) The Portuguese government presented three main reasons to shore up its decision: the need to maintain the credibility of Portugal as a partner in the EU and NATO; solidarity with the victims of the conflict, and defense of the national interest.

Similarly, this intervention established a clear line of demarcation between a conservative view of the role and structure of the armed forces, rooted in homeland defense and foreign missions in the historically well-known Portuguese ex-colonies, and a forward vision based on the projection of forces to European theaters of operation or adjoining areas of strategic interest. It also increased the bargaining power of Portugal, which became an active partner with a more audible voice within NATO. That voice led to a better position, when it came to negotiating Indonesia's withdrawal from East Timor following the UN-supervised popular referendum held in 1999.

The Participation of the Portuguese Armed Forces in Peace Missions

The Portuguese participation in peacekeeping missions has registered a notorious leap forward since 1991. There were three conflicts in which the Portuguese armed forces were engaged more meaningfully: Angola, Mozambique, Yugoslavia and, especially, East Timor in the late 1990s. At the end of the Cold War, Portugal debuted in international missions with a very modest mission of 25 military observers and civilians to supervise the electoral process in Namibia under UNTAG, the United Nations Transition Assistance Group.

As far as EU missions are concerned, the first elements sent abroad on a peace operation were military observers. In 1991, when the conflict broke out in the ex-Yugoslavia, Portugal sent a few observers to the region on an international observer mission, the European Communities for Yugoslavia Monitoring Mission (ECMM-YU). This mission aimed at verifying compliance with the ceasefire agreed between Slovenia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

The limited initial contribution was a reflection of the traditional national posture of neutrality. Later, the forces included more significant military elements and means under the UNPROFOR mission.

The first major peace mission took place in Africa, in Angola. The Portuguese government strongly pushed for both a peace process and reconciliation between the ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), culminating in the Bicesse Agreement in 1991 and free elections in 1992. Portugal's aspiration to obtain international political recognition as a relevant actor in the region, to rebuild its reputation and to improve the negative image of the legacy of colonisation, fuelled an intense movement of diplomatic activity and displacement of resources to post-conflict Angola.

The peace process in Angola, the negotiation phase of which (1989-91) was an initiative of the Portuguese diplomacy, went through several phases and hurdles. To implement the Bicesse Agreement, Portuguese diplomats and the armed forces made important efforts, controlling the political process, the technical monitoring of the ceasefire and the formation of the Unified Angolan Armed Forces. Between 1991 and 1992, Portugal took part in the United Nations Angola Verification Mission II (UNAVEM II). UNAVEM II was established with the mandate to verify the arrangements agreed by the Angolan parties for the monitoring of the ceasefire and supervise the conduct of the political and electoral process. The mission began in July 1991 and ended in February 1995, with military observers and civilian police, 86 of whom were Portuguese soldiers. The mission enabled to draw practical knowledge that was important for the preparation of future military observers. It also confirmed Portugal's intentions to play a strategic role in the lusophone space.

With the resumption of violence, after the elections of September 1992, it was necessary to renegotiate the peace. The agreement was obtained only in November 1995 with the Lusaka Protocol. The UN immediately set up a new peacekeeping operation, UNAVEM III (1995-1997), to which Portugal contributed with a Signal Company (101 elements) and a Logistics Company (205 elements). With this mission, Portugal consolidated its claim to the Portuguese-speaking space, while the forces carried out important activities for the compliance with the UN mandate. It should be noted that the Portuguese participation in the UNAVEM missions and the takeover mission MONUA (United Nations Mission of Observers in Angola, 1997-1999), involved a total of 838 elements. (26)

Portugal returned to Africa for its second important intervention in another former Portuguese colony, Mozambique. Portugal began its formal participation in the peace process in December 1990, incorporating the Joint Verification Commission (COMIVE) with a military representation for overseeing the partial withdrawal of Zimbabwean troops. (27) In mid-1992, Portugal was appointed official observer at the Rome peace talks (1990-1992) between the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) and the Mozambique National Resistance Movement (RENAMO). When the General Peace Agreement was signed, in October 1992, Portugal participated simultaneously in the political and military process (1993-1994), and in the UN peacekeeping force (United Nations Operation in Mozambique, UNOMOZ). It set up a military mission with over 100 officers and sergeants who controlled the ceasefire, demobilization and reintegration of demobilized soldiers and performed an important part in the formation of the Mozambican Armed Forces. (28)

The Portuguese contributed with 480 military in a total force of 6,800 men coming from over 40 countries. This was the first mission, after WWI, that Portugal deployed its first Signal Battalion (Signal Battalion 4) abroad. (29) Its performance was widely praised. (30)

In the context of the UN Protection Force in the former Yugoslavia, Portugal participated initially by sending military observers and medical-surgical teams. Once the Dayton Peace Agreement was signed, in November 1995, Portugal increased its participation to the force. (31)

In December of the same year, Operation Joint Endeavor was launched in Bosnia Herzegovina involving the multinational force IFOR. Portuguese armed forces took part in IFOR with the Portuguese Airborne Infantry Battalion involving around 1,000 personnel. In proportional terms, that placed Portugal among the top contributors to IFOR. In December 1996, NATO initiated Operation Joint Guard, involving the SFOR Multinational Force, which involved a batallion-size unit, albeit with a smaller force.

SFOR's success in fulfilling its mandate, combined with positive developments in the field, led to restructuring of the force in 1999 and 2003, keeping the Portuguese presence, although his mission was successively downsized. When, in 1999, Serbia withdrew its forces from Kosovo, NATO set up a military mission, KFOR (Kosovo Force). This mission's legitimacy was challenged because it was set up in the aftermath of NATO's bombing campaign carried out to end alleged Serbian repression of Kosovar Albanians and was interpreted by many as a clear violation of Serbia's sovereignty of UN rules.

The decision to participate in KFOR was much less consensual than in previous years. There was widespread dissatisfaction with the deployment of national troops with protests in several Portuguese cities and heated debates in Parliament and the media. (32) This scenario of disapproval conditioned the government's record on the matter, which, unable to invoke the national interest, decided to seek the legitimacy of intervention in the international discourse, appealing to the fulfilment of commitments made to the European partners, the grave humanitarian situation and abuse of human rights. Contrary to public opinion and many sectors of the national political class, the government decided to provide the support of the Air Force to Operation Allied Force.

In June 1999, a battalion of the Independent Airborne Brigade (BAI, renamed Rapid Reaction Brigade in 2006), a Special Operations unit and a Tactical Air-Control party (TACP), totalling 319 soldiers, were incorporated in KFOR. (33) The means involved in this mission were greatly responsible for the satisfaction with which the Portuguese forces responded to the requirements of the mission. This led Portugal to be assigned to the National Defense Force in Kosovo, in 2005, with a significant presence: an Army batallion in Pristina, which constitutes a KFOR Tactical Reserve. The return of the Portuguese contingent to Lisbon was a consequence of the sending of a strong military contingent to Timor.

In January 2000, Portugal began a new phase that propelled it to the status of European country that contributed with the largest number of personnel for peacekeeping operations. (34) The setting was the former colony of East Timor, a territory taken over by Indonesia in 1975, where Portugal has engaged 6,097 elements. From the early days of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in the mid-1970s until independence in 2002, Portugal skilfully used its diplomacy to find a pacific solution to the conflict, acting through the UN General Assembly and Security Council, the Human Rights Commission and the International Court of Justice; as well as negotiating directly with Indonesia.

UN-brokered talks between Indonesia and Portugal culminated in a May 1999 agreement which paved the way for a popular consultation on the status of the territory. The agreement foresaw the holding of a referendum that would allow the Timorese people to decide on whether to continue to be part of Indonesia or to be independent. The UN authorized the establishment of the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) to ensure the referendum. UN-supervised voter registration led to an August 1999 ballot in which 78 per cent of East Timorese voted for independence. Massive destruction perpetrated by pro-Indonesian militias followed.

The violence that followed the elections provoked outrage in Portugal. With Portugal united behind the East Timorese cause, President Jorge Sampaio, Prime Minister A. Guterres and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Gama, were instrumental in drumming up international support for a UN peacekeeping force. Not surprisingly, Portugal's most significant involvement in any UN peacekeeping mission occurred within UNTAET, the UN Mission in East Timor, the second largest contribution on the ground after Australia. (35)

The Portuguese battalions acting under UNTAET and UNMISET (UN Mission of Support in East Timor) deployed, at its maximum strength, 800 military (2000-2004), reducing the number as the mission winded down. To this figure, one must also add the military assigned to the Central Command Sector of East Timor. The mission was planned as a peacekeeping force, but, considering the delicate situation in the territory, it was governed by stricter rules of engagement, some of which were drafted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The actions of these battalions deserved recognition and praise from UN and reinforced Portuguese prestige in peace missions. (36)

It should also be noted that Portugal participated in the observation and supervision of electoral processes implemented by the UN. Besides the cases already referred of Namibia, Angola, and Mozambique, Portuguese officers were also involved in South Africa, Macedonia, Krajina and Slovenia, Croatia, Guinea-Bissau and S. Tome and Principe. In Western Sahara, Portugal participated with a small military mission in operation MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara), twice commanded by Portuguese Brigadiers.

As part of its commitment to the European Security and Defense Policy, Portugal was involved in several EU missions, among which one may point out Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has to be noted that Portugal has uninterruptedly contributed over the last decade to security in Bosnia and Herzegovina with almost 8,000 personnel.

Other participations worthy of note were the EU Police Mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina (EUPM), EUPOL-Proxima (Macedonia), the Assistance Mission to the EU border crossing point at Rafah, on the Gaza-Egypt border (EU BAM Rafah). In Africa, Portugal has deployed troops in EUFOR-DRC, in support of MONUC, the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to monitor the electoral process. Portugal has also provided support to the political mission of the African Union in Sudan (Darfur region) AMIS I.

Presently, as part of the EU forces, Portugal has personnel in Bosnia and Herzegovina (EUFOR). In Africa it is involved: in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (EUSEC RD Congo); in Somalia, in the Naval Force of the European Union (EUNAVFOR), Operation ATALANTA; in Guinea-Bissau, where it is involved in the Security Sector Reform Mission in Guinea-Bissau (EUSSR Guinea-Bissau); in the EU Force Chad/CAR (EUFOR Tchad/RCA), which takes place both in eastern Chad and the north-eastern Central African Republic.

Portugal is also involved in ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) in Afghanistan since 2002. (37) It is keeping its pledge made at NATO's 2009 April summit to supply an additional 162 troops to more than double its ISAF troop contribution. (38) Since February 2005 several officers and noncommissioned officers have been engaged in NATO Training Mission in Iraq/NTM-I. Portugal has also been sustaining, since October 2006, in Lebanon, an Engineering Company (141 elements).

The Navy and the air force have had an extensive record of participation in the framework of multinational humanitarian and peace support operations. In 1998, in Guinea-Bissau, the Immediate Reaction Force, made up of naval and Marine units, carried out the evacuation of 1,237 Portuguese nationals and citizens of friendly countries during the political and military upheaval that occurred in that country. In addition, naval units of the frigate-class participate regularly, since 2001, in operations carried out in the Mediterranean by the standing naval force of NATO. In 2006, a Navy frigate was involved in the Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean in operations to prevent and combat international terrorism. The same type of operations is performed by an European naval force, EUROMARFOR, activated on a regular basis, in the Atlantic off the Portuguese coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Army and forces from the four Services have also been involved in a different spectrum of military missions, ranging from humanitarian and rescue tasks and crisis management to react to specific contingencies. The emergence of ethnic conflicts in some African countries, along with the eruption of armed struggle for power that took place in the 1990s, forced the European countries that had citizens living in these regions to put in place evacuation operations. Portugal had to intervene in times of political upheaval to evacuate citizens from Zaire, (later renamed Democratic Republic of the Congo) and Guinea-Bissau. (39) Other participations have enriched the history of the armed forces: the military involvement in the international forces in Albania, which managed the flow of refugees from the humanitarian crisis in Kosovo; the contribution given to the Interim Assistance Force of the EU in Operation Artemis to the stabilisation of security conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in close cooperation with MONUC, or the participation in Macedonia, first integrating NATO forces, and, after March 2003, integrated into an EU force (Operation Concordia) led, after October 2002, by a Portuguese general). (40)


With the end of the Cold War and the consolidation of democracy, Portugal geared up to respond to new strategic demands, developing the tools necessary for defense and assertion of its national interests externally and participating actively in the joint efforts of the international community to ensure peace and security in various regions of the world. The new international environment led to the inception of a new model based on a policy of global intervention legitimized by UN values. Participation in PSOs has been seen as a vehicle for strengthening Portugal's position in the world, in the sense that being involved in the PSOs under the flag of international organisations raises the profile of Portuguese foreign policy and diplomacy to a level it would not otherwise have. Portugal's participation in PSOs has been motivated in part by a reactive attitude that seeks to avoid marginalisation in international affairs through active participation in international peace endeavors.

This participation has been instrumental in the promotion of some of Portugal's key foreign policy objectives, particularly in security in areas of national strategic interest, like East Timor, Africa and Latin America. Historically, three cases helped mould Portugal's current peace efforts, and set the priority in the direction of the Portuguese-speaking countries: Angola, Mozambique and East Timor. It is clear, when speaking of PSOs, that one of the top Portuguese priorities is helping the former colonies, in Africa in particular. Keeping the peace in Portuguese-speaking countries is not only a moral duty, due to privileged historical relations, but is also an opportunity of preserving Portugal's influence in those countries.

The Portuguese presence in Africa reflects the preeminence that Portuguese foreign policy has always given to this region and represents a sector in which Portugal has a say, particularly as regards the ex-colonies. This is due mainly to Portugal's successful efforts to mend fences with the former colonies and to consolidate pragmatic and fruitful relations. It is also an asset in terms of Portugal's leverage in international relations. After major involvements in Angola and Mozambique, there seems to exist a clear preference for conflict prevention in Africa, including through ESDP civilian missions, rather than an involvement in military crisis management operations.

With the accession to the European Communities, Portugal began to focus its attention in Europe, and since then, the EU has been an essential part of Portuguese foreign policy, constituting a major pole of national interests. Portuguese foreign policy priorities changed accordingly reflecting the growing importance of Europe in the national context: the involvement in EU peacekeeping missions testified the importance accorded to the responsibilities shouldered as an EU member. The national participation in IFOR and SFOR and the remarkable performance of Portuguese forces--the size of which was outstanding matched against national resources--helped to strengthen the position of Portugal as a reliable partner of NATO.

Another, former Portuguese colony, East Timor, was Portugal's most significant involvement in any UN peacekeeping mission. East Timor was undoubtedly one of the largest diplomatic struggles Portugal ever engaged in, assuming a leading role in the fight for the right to self-determination of the East Timorese people. Against the dominant political tide, Portugal committed all its diplomatic efforts to keep the East Timor issue on the international agenda and persuade the international community that time was ripe for Timor's independence. Arguably, Portugal will continue to be a significant bilateral aid donor to East Timor over the longer term and has been instrumental in pursuing continued EU assistance for the country. Portugal ranked second on the list of major donors, preceded by Australia and followed by the EU Commission (until 2006, the first place was occupied by Portugal). Largely for historical and emotional reasons, East Timor will remain a priority area for Portuguese defense, foreign and aid policies.

Maria do Ceu Pinto

University of Minho

(1) "Ranking of Military and Police Contributions to UN Operations" ( Depts/dpko/dpko/contributors/2008/dec08_1.pdf) (31 December 2009).

(2) PSOs usually include peacekeeping operations, peace building (post-conflict actions), peacemaking processes, conflict prevention, and military peace enforcement operations. See Maria do Ceu Pinto, As Nacoes Unidas e a Manutencao da Paz (Coimbra: Almedina, 2007): Chapter III; Joint Publication 3-07.3, Peace Operations, 17 October 2007, Joint Chiefs of Staff, p. Nicola Johnston, Peace Support Operations, 33 ( org/ pdfs/TK6_peace_support_ops.pdf).

(3) "Missoes Internacionais", Ministerio da Defesa Nacional, Defesa/operacoes/mi/.

(4) "FND e Militares em Missao entre 1991 e 21 Outubro 2009'; COC/EMGFA, 21 October 2009; Fundacao Mario Soares-Centro de Investigacao e Formacao para uma Cultura de Paz, A participacao portuguesa em missoes de paz--Relatorio final (Lisbon: December 2006).

(5) A. Marques Guedes and Luis Elias, Dimensoes externas da seguranca interna em Portugal interdependencia e estrategias nacionais (in print).

(6) "Cooperative neutrality" refers to a status of ambiguous neutrality Portugal chose during WWII. Portugal declared neutrality right from the start of the war, but it was not canonical. It conceded the British and the Americans the use of the Azores Islands which were considered strategic for the anti-submarine battle in the Atlantic.

(7) A. de Vasconcelos, 'A europeizacao da politica de defesa," Estrategia, no. 14 (1999),

(8) Programa do XVIII Governo-Defesa Nacional, http://

(9) In underlining the flexibility that the new "National Security concept" should frame, it was pointed out "the multiplicity of 'borders' that characterize modern Portugal-whereas our economic and political geography is European, the geography of security is Atlantic and European": See "I. Motivos para a Revisao do Conceito" historico/varias_noticias/2003/CEDN.htm.

(10) A. de Vasconcelos, Portugal 2000: The European Way, Research and Policy Paper No. 9, Groupement D'etudes et de Recherches Notre Europe, March 2000 (, p. 22 and N. Severiano Teixeira, "Das campanhas de guerra as operacoes de paz: as intervencoes militares portuguesas em teatro europeu," Estrategia (14) (1999),

(11) S. Teixeira, "Das campanhas".

(12) Programa do XVIII Governo.

(13) Livro Branco da Defesa Nacional (MDN: 2001), livro_branco/Livro_branco.pdf, p. 19-20

(14) Col. E. Maia Pereira and Lt.-Col. Nuno M. Mendes Farinha, "Accoes desenvolvidas pelas Forcas Armadas em missoes de Paz no quadro da Organizacao das Nacoes Unidas (ONU)," RevistaMilitar,, 17 April 2009; J. Duque, "Portugal nas missoes de paz," in JANUS 98 (Lisbon: Publico/UAL, 1998): 46-47.

(15) Freitas do Amaral, "Novas Missoes das Forcas Armadas," Visao, 25 November 1999.

(16) F. Proenca Garcia, "Politica de Defesa Nacional. As novas missoes de Paz," http://www., 3 May 2000.

(17) Garcia, "Politica de Defesa".

(18) Severiano Teixeira, "O interesse nacional ainda existe" Diario de Noticias, 9 February 2005 (

(19) F. Alegre Duarte, "Portugal e as missoes de paz no estrangeiro--algumas notas de refle Changing the paradigm: the intervention in the ex-Yugoslavia xao," Negocios Estrangeiros (13) (2008): 137-138.

(20) It was a NATO-led multinational force deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina under a one year mandate (December 1995-December 1996) under the codename Operation Joint Endeavor. Its task was to implement the military Annexes of The General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, known as Dayton Agreement. It relieved the UN peacekeeping force UNPROFOR, which had originally arrived in 1992. UNPROFOR was the first UN peacekeeping force in Croatia and in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Yugoslav wars. It covered Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. It lasted from February 1992-March 1995 until its restructuring in 1995 into three coordinated peace operations. In December 1995, the forces of the UNPROFOR were reflagged under the NATO led Implementation Force (IFOR) whose task was to implement the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (GFAP-otherwise known as the Dayton Agreement). Forces from non-NATO nations, in addition to the almost 60,000 NATO troops, were also deployed to Bosnia.

(21) In December 1996, IFOR was taken over by SFOR, which took upon itself the task of upholding the Dayton Agreement. In turn, SFOR was replaced in 2004 by the EU force: EUFOR Althea. SFOR operated under the code names Operation Joint Guard (December 1996-June 1998) and Operation Joint Forge (June 1998-December 2004).

(22) Vasconcelos, "A europeizacao".

(23) We have followed S. Teixeira, "Das campanhas".

(24) S. Teixeira, "Das campanhas"; N. Coelho, "Portugal e a NATO" CIARI, http://www.ciari. org/investigacao/portugal_e_a_nato.htm.

(25) A. Vitorino, "Porque estamos na Bosnia" in Opcoes de Politica de Defesa Nacional (MDN, 1998), 37; A. Vitorino, "Uma questao de credibilidade a participacao portuguesa na IFOR," Politica Internacional I (12) (1996): 87-96.

(26) V. Rodrigues Viana, Seguranca colectiva: A ONU e as operacoes de apoio a paz (Lisbon: IDN/ Edicoes Cosmos, 2002), 311.

(27) Viana, Seguranca colectiva, 311.

(28) M. Moita, "A presenca portuguesa na ONUMOZ em Mocambique" JANUS 2005 (Lisbon: Publico/UAL): 186-187.

(29) Viana, Seguranca colectiva, 312.

(30) Duque, "Portugal nas missoes de paz", 47.

(31) Maria Carrilho, "Os conflitos nos Balcas e a redefinicao das missoes internacionais," Estrategia (14) (1999),

(32) A. Vasconcelos, "A Europeizacao," and J. Paulo Costa, "O envolvimento de Portugal na ex-Jugoslavia: a participacao militar nas missoes IFOR e SFOR (1990-1999)-cronologia comentada," Estrategia (14) (1999): 105-147.

(33) C. Cordeiro, "Portugal e as missoes de paz na ex-Jugoslavia (II)," JANUS 2005 (Lisbon: Publico/UAL): 192-193.

(34) The largest deployment of military forces abroad was during 2000/200I, with the simultaneous involvement of military units in three operations: SFOR/Bosnia, KFOR/Kosovo, UNTAET/ East Timor: J. Duque, "Portugal em operacoes de paz" O Mundo em Portugues (43) (2003),

(35) E. Cortes Palma, "Portugal em Timor-Leste: INTERFET e UNTAET," JANUS 2005 (Lisbon: Publico/UAL): 196-197.

(36) E. Cortes Palma, "Portugal em Timor-Leste: da UNTAET a UNMISET," JANUS 2005 (Lisbon: Publico/UAL): 198-199.

(37) Fundacao Mario Soares, p. 157.

(38) Estado_Maior-General das Forcas Armadas, "FND Afeganistao" ( pt/operacoes/missoes/fnd-afeg); HM Goverment-UK and Afghanistan, "Additional Voluntary International Contributions," HM Government--UK and Afghanistan (

(39) Fundacao Mario Soares, 196-97.

(40) Fundacao Mario Soares, 197.

MARIA DO CEU PINTO is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration of the University of Minho in Braga, Portugal. She is the author of Political Islam and the United States: A Study of U. S. Policy Towards the Islamist Movements in the Middle East, I (Reading: Ithaca Press, 1999), and "Some U.S. Concerns Regarding Islamist and Middle Eastern Terrorism", Terrorism and Political Violence 2 (3) (Autumn 1999).
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Author:Pinto, Maria do Ceu
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
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Date:Jul 1, 2010
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