- The guiding principle of Portuguese foreign policy since the founding of the monarchy in the 12th century has been the maintenance of Portugal's status first as an independent kingdom and, later, as a sovereign nation-state. For the first 800 years of its existence, Portuguese foreign policy and diplomacy sought to maintain the independence of the Portuguese monarchy, especially in relationship to the larger and more powerful Spanish monarchy. During this period, the Anglo- Portuguese Alliance, which began with a treaty of commerce and friendship signed between the kings of Portugal and England in 1386 (the Treaty of Windsor) and continued with the Methuen Treaty in 1703, sought to use England (Great Britain after 1707) as a counterweight to its landward neighbor, Spain.As three invasions of Portugal by Napoleon's armies during the first decade of the 19th century proved, however, Spain was not the only threat to Portugal's independence and security. Portugal's ally, Britain, provided a counterweight also to a threatening France on more than one occasion between 1790 and 1830. During the 19th century, Portugal's foreign policy became largely subordinate to that of her oldest ally, Britain, and standard Portuguese histories describe Portugal's situation as that of a "protectorate" of Britain. In two key aspects during this time of international weakness and internal turmoil, Portugal's foreign policy was under great pressure from her ally, world power Britain: responses to European conflicts and to the situation of Portugal's scattered, largely impoverished overseas empire. Portugal's efforts to retain massive, resource-rich Brazil in her empire failed by 1822, when Brazil declared its independence. Britain's policy of favoring greater trade and commerce opportunities in an autonomous Brazil was at odds with Portugal's desperate efforts to hold Brazil.Following the loss of Brazil and a renewed interest in empire in tropical Africa, Portugal sought to regain a more independent initiative in her foreign policy and, especially after 1875, overseas imperial questions dominated foreign policy concerns. From this juncture, through the first Republic (1910-26) and during the Estado Novo, a primary purpose of Portuguese foreign policy was to maintain Portuguese India, Macau, and its colonies in Africa: Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea- Bissau. Under the direction of the dictator, Antônio de Oliveira Salazar, further efforts were made to reclaim a measure of independence of foreign policy, despite the tradition of British dominance. Salazar recognized the importance of an Atlantic orientation of the country's foreign policy. As Herbert Pell, U.S. Ambassador to Portugal (1937-41), observed in a June 1939 report to the U.S. Department of State, Portugal's leaders understood that Portugal must side with "that nation which dominates the Atlantic."During the 1930s, greater efforts were made in Lisbon in economic, financial, and foreign policy initiatives to assert a greater measure of flexibility in her dependence on ally Britain. German economic interests made inroads in an economy whose infrastructure in transportation, communication, and commerce had long been dominated by British commerce and investors. Portugal's foreign policy during World War II was challenged as both Allied and Axis powers tested the viability of Portugal's official policy of neutrality, qualified by a customary bow to the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance. Antônio de Oliveira Salazar, who served as minister of foreign affairs, as well as prime minister, during 1936-45, sought to sell his version of neutrality to both sides in the war and to do so in a way that would benefit Portugal's still weak economy and finance. Portugal's status as a neutral was keenly tested in several cases, including Portugal's agreeing to lease military bases to Britain and the United States in the Azores Islands and in the wolfram (tungsten ore) question. Portugal's foreign policy experienced severe pressures from the Allies in both cases, and Salazar made it clear to his British and American counterparts that Portugal sought to claim the right to make independent choices in policy, despite Portugal's military and economic weakness. In tense diplomatic negotiations with the Allies over Portugal's wolfram exports to Germany as of 1944, Salazar grew disheartened and briefly considered resigning over the wolfram question. Foreign policy pressure on this question diminished quickly on 6 June 1944, as Salazar decreed that wolfram mining, sales, and exports to both sides would cease for the remainder of the war. After the United States joined the Allies in the war and pursued an Atlantic strategy, Portugal discovered that her relationship with the dominant ally in the emerging United Nations was changing and that the U.S. would replace Britain as the key Atlantic ally during succeeding decades. Beginning in 1943-44, and continuing to 1949, when Portugal became, with the United States, a founding member of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Luso-American relations assumed center stage in her foreign policy.During the Cold War, Portuguese foreign policy was aligned with that of the United States and its allies in Western Europe. After the Revolution of 25 April 1974, the focus of Portuguese foreign policy shifted away from defending and maintaining the African colonies toward integration with Europe. Since Portugal became a member of the European Economic Community in 1986, and this evolved into the European Union (EU), all Portuguese governments have sought to align Portugal's foreign policy with that of the EU in general and to be more independent of the United States. Since 1986, Portugal's bilateral commercial and diplomatic relations with Britain, France, and Spain have strengthened, especially those with Spain, which are more open and mutually beneficial than at any other time in history.Within the EU, Portugal has sought to play a role in the promotion of democracy and human rights, while maintaining its security ties to NATO. Currently, a Portuguese politician, José Manuel Durão Barroso, is president of the Commission of the EU, and Portugal has held the six-month rotating presidency of the EU three times, in 1992, 2000, and 2007.
Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. by Douglas L. Wheeler . 2014.
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