Statement by Carlos Carvalhas, General Secretary of the PCP, Press Conference

About the attack against Yugoslavia

The PCP reaffirms its strong condemnation of the bombings against Yugoslavia. We consider them to be an extremely serious development for peace in the Balkans and in Europe.

We are firmly convinced that the misgivings or opposition with respect to this NATO military attack against the Republic of Yugoslavia - and to Portugal's involvement in it - transcend party-political boundaries.

And most of all, we are strongly convinced that many Portuguese citizens who identify with the Socialist Party (PS) are feeling great grief and indignation at the sad fact that it is a PS Government that has - 25 years after the April 25th revolution that brought us peace - taken the decision and responsibility to directly involve Portuguese troops in an armed aggression against a sovereign country of our continent.

Contrary to what all of the Government's behaviour has attempted to indicate, it is no minor fact that the US and a group of European States should - 54 years after the end of World War II - undertake acts of war on European soil against a sovereign State.

Contrary also to what all of the Government's behaviour has attempted to show, the serious decision of involving Portugal and its Armed Forces in an operation of undeniable military aggression - which most obviously ignores elementary tenets of international law and unabashedly side steps and casts aside the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - is no day-to-day administrative matter.

The prime-minister owes the country a public explanation. He cannot hide behind pious acts or jesuitic expressions. He must explain why it is that Portugal, a sovereign country - and its NATO membership did not oblige it - joined in on this aggression, sidestepping the UN and in breach of international law, why the Assembly of the Republic [parliament] was not called upon to debate and take a stand on it, and why and how the so-called Kosovo "humanitarian tragedy" is more serious than the "humanitarian tragedies" of the Kurds in Turkey, the Timorese in Timor, the Irish in Ireland, the Angolans in Angola, or the Palestinians in Palestine.

For our part, we reiterate our strong demand for an immediate end to the bombings against Yugoslavia. Among other things, these bombings do not raise any prospect for a solution to the political problems that actually exist. They can only dangerously destabilise the whole Balkan region, inflict needless suffering on the population, and jeopardise a political solution.

But at this moment, we want above all to address a pressing appeal to the President of the Republic, to very urgently reconsider Portugal's position, withdraw from this criminal aggression, and together with the prime-minister undertake efforts in international forums - particularly NATO and the European Union - toward ending the bombing and for a return to serious political negotiation.

Portugal's greatest and most sacred undertakings have to be toward that which is most fair and humane, which is to put a stop to useless but tragic blood-letting and loss of lives, and to save peace in a turbulent region of Europe.

Portugal's prestige is not enhanced by a servile and blind alignment with US dictums.

And those who in the European Union aspire so much to it being a strong and autonomous voice on the international arena, should think about how shameful it is, that on the very day in which its heads of State and Government were meeting in Berlin - outside their own countries - the US imposed bombings upon a sovereign country.

The new attitude we demand from the President of the Republic and the prime-minister would enhance Portugal's prestige, both in the eyes of millions of Portuguese citizens and of millions of other European citizens who are following the dramatic events with great concern and grief.

Lastly, we also want to address a strong appeal to all mass organisations and to all citizens regardless of their party-political leanings or ideological choices, to exercise the freedoms gained on April 25th [1974], to take the initiative and make their voices heard, demanding an end to the acts of war against Yugoslavia and an end to Portugal's participation in the on-going aggression, and for peace and peaceful coexistence among Balkan peoples. We appeal to all, to join the demonstration called by the Portuguese Council for Peace and Co-operation (CPPC) for Monday, March 29th.

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