Ambassador George Glass Op-Ed: Joint Efforts and Shared Successes of the Transatlantic Partnership

Year in Review: Joint Efforts and Shared Successes of the Transatlantic Partnership
Ambassador George E. Glass

The Portuguese version of this article appeared in Publico on December 23, 2019.

The aroma of roasting chestnuts, twinkling lights lining the Avenida da Liberdade, and cozy dinners with visiting family and friends – all of these things make this my favorite time of year in Portugal.  And as we enjoy the Christmas season and look towards the New Year, I want to express my sincerest gratitude to the Portuguese people and the Portuguese government for their commitment to our long-standing, transatlantic partnership.

On our many trips around the country this year – from Braga to Barrancos, from Sines to São Miguel – my wife Mary and I have experienced the warmth of the Portuguese people and the country’s undeniable charm.  And we were particularly proud of making good on our promise to listen, identify areas of mutual interest, and take action – working closely with Portuguese partners to the first sister-park arrangement between the United States’ North Cascades Park and the Peneda-Gerês National Park, as well as support reforestation efforts through the establishment of the first U.S.-Portugal Friendship Forest in the Pinhal de Leiria.  The official naming of the Ambassador’s residence, as Casa Carlucci, will also serve as a tribute to former Ambassador Frank Carlucci’s work with former Prime Minister Mario Soares to secure support for Portugal’s emerging democracy.  It’s these types of joint efforts and shared successes that will continue to deepen our centuries-old friendship.

Working side by side in 2019, we have not only reinforced the transatlantic partnership, but also strengthened our respective economies, created important bonds between our communities, and advanced our core, democratic principles.  Our engagement this year culminated with the visit of Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and his fruitful meetings with Prime Minister António Costa and Minister of State, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva, and Defense Minister João Cravinho.  Together, our governments reinforced our NATO Alliance at the London Leaders meeting and during our 42nd biannual, strategic dialogue.  As a founding member of NATO, a peacekeeping force in Africa, and a voice for democracy in Venezuela, we commend Portugal’s efforts to promote a freer, more prosperous, and more secure world.

Portugal upholds democratic values and has leveraged its influence on the global stage.  And Washington has taken note, given the steady visits of high-level, U.S. officials All of these delegations underscored the shared successes of our transatlantic partnership: U.S. and Portuguese companies are promoting prosperity and creating jobs on both sides of the Atlantic, with bilateral trade reaching $8 billion in 2018, being the largest commercial partner outside the EU; Portugal is a reliable NATO ally, working with us at Lajes Air Field in the Azores as a strategic and enduring symbol of our security partnership; and close cooperation continues through our recent MOU on asset sharing and our dialogue on investment screening.  These joint efforts come with a joint responsibility to secure our digital future by trusting 5G networks that prioritize privacy and protect the freedoms enshrined in American and European value systems.

Looking ahead to 2020, we will continue highlighting our shared history and values, especially as we celebrate the upcoming 225th anniversary of the oldest, continually operating U.S. consulate, based in the Azores, and the 60th anniversary of the bilateral Fulbright Commission.  Americans view Portugal as a top tourist, innovation, and study abroad destination, and I look forward to welcoming many more so they can see for themselves Portugal’s unique attraction for investment and collaboration.

As this year comes to a close, join me as I raise a glass of my favorite Port wine and toast to our shared successes and all that we have accomplished as loyal allies, partners, and friends.

Boas Festas e Feliz Ano Novo!