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4TH OF DECEMBER

Presentation by Wilfried Martens in homage to Adelino Amaro da Costa

2012-12-07 | Wilfried Martens
Presentation by Wilfried Martens in homage to Adelino Amaro da Costa

Adelino Amaro da Costa, who we are honouring today, was one of the most brilliant minds of his generation.

I was with him in Porto in January 1975 at the time of the stormy revolution when the Palacio de Cristal was surrounded by violent groups from the extreme left. It was the first Congress of the CDS, the country was experiencing a revolutionary whirlwind, movements and anti-democratic parties were desperately trying to impose the logic of violence that leads to dictatorship. "That afternoon, the Crystal Palace was attacked by communist militants. They blocked the main entrance and locked the participants inside. The police looked on powerlessly. We were kept hostage all night and many feared that the communist militants would invade the building. Roelof Kruisinga (later Minister of Defence in the Netherlands) said manfully that we should be prepared to die for our ideals. (...) We were freed in the morning by paratroopers. We had to get into cars that were in the car park. We sat there for hours -my companion in misfortune, Frank Swaelen, who was the secretary-general of my home party and I, in Amaro da Costa's little car until the paratroopers had cleared the way and escorted us back to our hotels".  Adelino Amaro da Costa, then vice president of CDS, kept his calmness and serenity during this long night. He was able to reassure the delegates of the CDS, and together we organised the mobilisation of some of Europe's influential governments who demanded that the country's military officials intervened, which led to ensuring the most basic rights of democracy: the right to assembly and to express themselves publicly in peace. Adelino Amaro da Costa asserted his role as the strong pillar of the house, his party, the CDS, and the Christian Democratic family.

Amaro da Costa was among the founders of Portuguese Christian Democracy.

1974 and 1975 for Portugal were years of great hope and great danger. A popular joy and enthusiasm resulted from the end of the dictatorship.  The influence on Portuguese society of the Marxist impact in the Communist Party and extremist movements from the left in an atmosphere of folklore partying quickly followed; not without violence and manipulation.

At this difficult and crucial moment, Adelino Amaro da Costa, bravely facing the challenge, entered politics on the front line and he inspired and founded the Social Democratic Centre, the CDS a Christian Democrat, centrist and European party.

A party ideologue, humanist, he advocated the values ​​of Christian personalism, the vision of a man that puts forward  dignity, rights and duties. Personalism has a profound vision of fundamental rights and calls on us to defend them against any kind of violation. He also advocated the social market economy as a model to ensure development, social harmony and justice in Portugal, which had to  reorganise itself economically and socially after the end of the regime and the colonial empire.

He was a man of dialogue, a builder of bridges between the inner currents of his party, but also with the opponents, because this is necessary for democracy when institutions reach an impasse. But he never confused the two; he always maintained the essential differences between existing political projects in Portuguese politics. He was a grand strategist but also an exemplary politician.

As number two in the CDS, in his successive roles as Secretary General and First Vice-President, I knew that he was a key figure of the centre-right in the stabilisation phase of Portuguese democracy. He had principles and he was the guardian of those principles, he had the known sense of moderation of a centrist and he had intellectual skills to negotiate with opponents but also to build and form human relationships; he had a sense of strategy and  he was visionary as political leaders can be.

Adelino Amaro da Costa was a strong supporter of the construction of a political Europe. The European community laid its foundations on the commitment of the Christian Democrats and we will always be at the forefront of reforms, which signify more Europe. From the start, Portugal's accession to the European Communities relied upon the enthusiasm of the CDS and the political support of the European Christian Democratic family.

Today this message is highly topical. Europe is our common home, the place and the spirit that unites us and allows us to face the financial, economic and political challenges in the world. It is our duty, as political parties gathered in the European People's Party, to pursue with conviction and determination the construction of a comprehensive European Political Union.

Adelino died at age 37. When one dies young, they leave behind unfinished work, a huge sense of irrecoverable loss and infinite regret. But in the case of exceptional personalities as is the case of Adelino, there is an example and a message, a testimony of a life, which fills the loss and which remains and injects hope into the next generations: if, more than thirty years later, we are here together it is because his imprint on this world is powerful and his projects are still valid and galvanising.

He aroused great enthusiasm among the young, who were fascinated by him. And young people owe him a lot. In the sixties, as a politically active student, he was editor of the university publication Tempo, which brought together non-conformist young Catholic intellectuals. Tempo remains one of the essential references of civic participation of Portuguese youth; the academic youth in particular. Later, in the late '60s and early '70s, as a young executive at the Ministry of Education, he was one of the instigators and organisers of reforms to democratise education, a true "revolution", which opened the doors of colleges and universities very wide to young people and paved the way for greater autonomy for universities.

As a parliamentarian, Adelino Amaro da Costa, leader of the CDS, was recognised as being among the most brilliant and of an exceptional quality at the time in Portuguese Assembly. Mario Soares, although a political opponent, considered him as an exceptional strategist and a great speaker with the ability to respond very strongly to his opponents

Member of the Government, from January 1980 until his death, Adelino Amaro da Costa was the first civilian, after the military revolution of 1974, to hold the portfolio of Defense Minister. He undertook this function for a short time but in a remarkable and memorablemanner. His authority came from his education and the moral and civic example he gave, which was reflected in his personal life.

It seems fair to point out here the effort made during these decades, to preserve the memory of Amaro da Costa's role in the affirmation of democracy in Portugal and his efforts to ensure a Christian Democratic influence in this process. This effort to remember was undertaken by the institute that bears his name, by its president for many years, Eugenio Anacoreta Correia and the right hand man to Adelino, his young colleague in the government de Sá Carneiro, José Ribeiro e Castro, later president of CDS and a member of the European Parliament, today a member of the Portuguese Parliament. I believe that the CDS and the Christian Democrats in general owe much to the work of those who constantly remind us of the fundamental values ​​of our political action, in this case the path of political freedom, the affirmation of a model of justice rooted in social market economy and the option, without reservation or hesitation, of a European political union more complete, stronger, more united, capable of ensuring peace and progress.

(*) Intervenção de Wilfried Martens, no âmbito da Sessão evocativa e Exposição fotográfica de Adelino Amaro da Costa, que teve lugar na sede do IDL, em Campo de Ourique, Lisboa, no dia 7 de Dezembro de 2012.