European Archive of Voices

Transcript – Adriano Moreira

Interview by João Francisco Gomes

Portugal, March 11, 2019


Adriano Moreira was one of the first in Portugal to think about European unity. In 1974, he published “Europe in Training”, one of the first pioneering works written in Portuguese about the process which led to the creation of the European communities.

As a former minister of the dictatorship of António de Oliveira Salazar Moreira is a contested figure in Portugal. Born in Macedo de Cavaleiros, in the north of the country, a trained jurist, he was Minister of Overseas between 1961 and 1963 during Estado Novo[1]. After the revolution of 25th April 1974, he remained politically active, being one of the most prominent figures in the Democratic Social Centre, CDS of which he was president in the 80s.  


Francisco: Professor Adriano Moreira, thank you very much for receiving me. You were born in 1922 during the First Republic, in Macedo de Cavaleiros…

Moreira: Grijó in Macedo de Cavaleiros!

Francisco: In Grijó! In the north of the country. What can you tell me about your childhood?

Francisco: The village where I grew up, was a poor village as the whole country back then. My paternal grandfather, whom I didn´t meet, was an employee in a windmill. He had eight children and all of them went to school.

Which was rare at the time …

Moreira: Very rare indeed! My father did the military service in Lisbon and then he stayed there. He managed to become second-in-command of the police in the seaport in Lisbon. If you check the payroll of that time, life wasn´t easy and I have a memory of my father and mother filled with love, respect and constant presence. Why did two people with very limited means let their son and daughter gain a degree? I graduated in Law and my sister is a doctor. I lived in Campolide, where Nova University stands today. I walked there and back on foot every single day for seven years. And then, when I went to Law University, the ritual was the same to Campo de Santana, where the university was located. The square is called Homeland Martyrs and we used to say it was because of us.   

Francisco: You were the martyrs!

Moreira: Yes (laughs). The thing is that I´ve always had a strong connection with the province, mainly the district of Bragança. I donated my library to the city of Bragança because it is the only place with higher education within the district.         

Francisco: What is your oldest memory? The very first thing you remember?

Moreira: I remember my mother sewing while I was falling asleep. I was very little lying next to her in a kind of windowsill. I also remember a common oven in the village, where people would bake the bread. And the person in charge of this was a girl of my age. Her name was Maria Moleira (“Mary Miller”). After graduating, every time I went to the village, Maria would bring me a bola de azeite (a Portuguese kind of bread) which she had prepared for me (laughs). Despite it being a difficult life, it is a life of which I have fond memories.

Francisco: What did you dream of becoming when you were a child?

Moreira: If you ask me why I chose to study Law, it is very difficult to explain, because the milieu where I lived didn´t inspire me much. It was a place of manual labour and precarious work. However, I had neighbour who had a small library and was very fond of me. She would lend me books (laughs). I would read and return them very carefully, so as not to damage them and she kept doing it.

Francisco: Your generation was the first to graduate from university in your family…

Moreira: I guess so. And it was a huge leap. My first job was at the Ministry of Justice. My first paycheck was three times higher than my father´s.

Francisco: How did you get that first job?

Moreira: I applied for it! I struggled to get my internship in Law. Although I had good marks, my father knew no one in the milieu. I went to several lawyers, but they were all very busy. Eventually I visited an old professor whom I liked a lot. I explained: “Dear Professor, I have such good marks, but I have this problem. Can´t you get me a lawyer where I can do my internship? He answered: “I see, you can stay in my office.” And that´s how I started.

Francisco: Did you have to do it in order to graduate?

Moreira: It was necessary so that I could register with the Portuguese Bar Association, but it wasn´t necessary in order to graduate. And the Portuguese Bar Association was, at the time, a respected institution with a certain authority, totally different from now. Nowadays, law firms are big organisations. I have a son who graduated in Law – it is a disease within the family — and his office right now has 300 lawyers.

Francisco: Three hundred… And back then, what was it like to be a lawyer?

Moreira: Each one had his own office. But, once I started working at the university, I quit the lawyers office. The bottom line is that I dedicated my life to the university.

Francisco: I am interested in understanding how people regarded Europe at the time. When was the first time you left Portugal?

Moreira: The first time I left for Galicia and spend the holidays at a friend´s house whose family had immigrated to Portugal during the Civil War and then returned to their homeland. Galicia was known for its ham. There were big warehouses of ham and I liked spending time there a lot. This was my first contact with Europe.

Francisco: How old were you?

Moreira: I was 21, when I graduated university.

Francisco: So, you left the country for the first time when you left university?

Moreira: Yes. Back then we didn´t have exchange programs nor experiences abroad. Now, all my granddaughters have done it.

Francisco: Erasmus.

Moreira: Yes, that´s it. One of them returned a few weeks ago from an internship in Colombia. Six months!

Francisco: Whereas for you, who had been born in Bragança, quite close to the border with Spain, it was a big step to travel to Spain…

Moreira: I lived in Lisbon, though. Lisbon, just like our other cities, was divided in neighbourhoods and these neighbourhoods had their own identity. I lived in Campolide. Campolide was a kind of suburb, but, at the same time, as there was a lot of immigration, regional houses[1] were of the utmost importance.   

Francisco: And now they´re getting closed…

Moreira: Not the one from Trás-os-Montes! That one is tremendously active. Last year they published a book about writers from Trás-os-Montes and they put on a large exhibition about traditional activities there. They organise all sorts of things usually with great quality. Others, on the other hand, have disappeared. These days I have the feeling that Lisbon only has one traditional borough and that is Campo de Ourique. There isn´t any other in Lisbon. Campo de Ourique still has the features of a borough. But that meant that I would always hang out with people from Trás-os-Montes. I was born there, I came to Lisbon but it felt like Trás-os-Montes because the atmosphere, the people with whom we hang out, my father´s friends, everyone and everything was from Trás-os-Montes. Today, I still have a close sense of intimacy with with Trás-os-Montes. This month I was there twice actually, in two different places.

Francisco: You still have a connection.

Moreira: Absolutely. I was just in Bragança for the celebration of the city´s 600 years’ anniversary and then I was also in Torre de Moncorvo, because, imagine that, The National Republican Guard held a symposium about the topic of ageing. 

Francisco: It is a pressing matter in that area.

Moreira: A lot of people were there, including teachers. And they were all very well-educated. I was very pleased for having taken part. I was exhausted when I returned to Lisbon because I don´t have enough energy for such long trips.

Francisco: How do they welcome you when you go there?

Moreira: They are very happy and they offer strong support. Actually, I can´t complain as I have massive support from the whole country. I participate in a lot of conferences. This month I shall go to Portalegre. They want to make me Honorary Professor of the Polytechnic Institute. I thank God to a certain extent, as it was a happy life in its origin, with a lot of difficulties, but also with human support from the family and the people from Trás-os-Montes. And the end hasn´t been unpleasant either, because they invite me to many places. However, time has come for me to start declining those invitations. I can´t accept any more.  

Francisco: You were saying that the first time you left was to go to Galicia, in Spain, when you were already more than 20 years old.  What was it like to cross the border to Spain back then? It was the beginning of the 40s.

Moreira: It wasn´t difficult. As long as you had your national identity card, there was no problem. The big issue, the one you´re thinking of, was the human smuggling that started with the Overseas War. Back then I was well aware of the problems – at least that´s what I thought. But that there was a side of that emigration which has never been dealt with: women´s smuggling. It came at a high price… I also visited Paris after the end of the Argelian war because I was very attached to the University College Pius XII, which were the Congregation of the Claretians. There was a great friend of mine, Father Aguiar. He took care of the Portuguese people, who, as immigrants, were known to create inner colonies. It was pretty much the same thing we now see with the uncontrolled European migration. They lived miserably. I saw it. And those claretian priests took care of them. I spent those days with them. We were able to get the attention of some French deputies who eventually helped to work out that situation. They suffered, they suffered a lot.   

Francisco: I would like to ask you about the origins of Europe. The time you spent at the university coincided with the Second World War. How did one look at the war from a Portuguese perspective?

Moreira: My degree is from 1939 to 1945. It´s a degree from the war period. I remember there was a huge concern about whether the Germans would invade Spain. They were in the Pyrenees. So, that risky situation was something we would follow on the news… The media were not as we know them today. When I got into the university, I was 16, and what was there? Diário de Notícias for which I still write today (laughs) and not much else. Nevertheless, it was enough to learn that there was a cataclysm in Europe and we knew we were at risk. Later, after graduating, I understood that the war period was very important for me. It made me think, “I have to study this”. You probably remember that we lived in a regime which was called “neutral collaboration”. It was actually an ultimatum from the United States as they needed the Azores. Back then, planes couldn´t reach Europe without being fuelled up on the way. Neutral collaboration meant that a part of our territory was at the service of the Allies and everything else was neutral. I still remember the government´s communication to the National Assembly which ended like this: “The jurists will have much difficulty in understanding this. Full stop. But that´s the way it is. Full stop.” The remaining territories didn´t take part in the war, but they forgot Timor. And so the Japanese went on with their genocide of the Timorese people. It was a very high price we had to pay.

Then, years passed and I managed to intervene in defense of the Timorese. Last year I was rewarded for that, but I am not sure it was entirely fair. They invited me to go to Timor – which was the only place within Portuguese sovereignty I have never been to before – to be honoured. I had someone telling them that I can´t go. The doctor doesn´t let me travel by plane as I had an infection. They said: “Bring a nurse!” And I said: “The doctor is not worried about the nurse, he is worried about me” (laughs).  Ramos Horta[2] eventually brought the badge of honour here. A badge of honour for the service done to Timor and the Rights of Man and Mankind. I have a grandson who is very sick and was named after me. I gave him the badge of honour, so that he can keep it. He is four.

Francisco: What did a young law student in Portugal in the beginning of the 40s know about the rest of Europe?

Moreira: There wasn´t, naturally, the information we have today. And the only people who actually knew something about it, were the ones who had studied humanities. It was my case. Actually, the problem of the struggle for Europe´s unity is fascinating. Because Europe, as we know it, doesn´t have natural borders. There are no rivers nor mountains forming a border, there simply isn´t anything. What gives Europe its identity was the creation of great shared values despite the differences. And, because of that, I can identify Europe´s big problem using two references: one concerns the Bohemian King in the XIII century who, if I can recall, wanted all European sovereigns to take control without the Pope´s intervention, so as to avoid a war between them. He never achieved it. That´s the first reference.  

Francisco: The first attempt for European Unity.

Moreira: Attempt… Illusion! The second one was more serious. It was after World war II, as they wanted to achieve political unity. It was no longer just security that was at stake: it was peace. There was, mostly because of the experience of the two wars, a great movement in that direction. Before the World wars it were the Empires that guaranteed peace. Those empires only ended with the war of 1914-18. It´s the German empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire and the Turkish empire, which also had European territories. And that disappears because of Woodrow Wilson´s influence who says that the States should be national. Curiously, if you check the literature from that time, the official one, the Americans don´t say they were Europe´s allies. They call them “associates” instead.

Francisco: Associates?

Moreira: Associates. And then The United States didn´t sign the letter of the League of Nations. Those European empires simply disappeared. They vanished and that is troublesome today. The borders within the domain of each empire were maintained as much as possible. But, because of that, not all States were national.  

Francisco: I figure that none of this was known or even understood in Portugal back then.

Moreira: Back then, the First World war was the first thing that shook the relationship of the West with the rest of the world. But there was still the situation of the colonies. There were no more empires inside Europe, but there were colonial empires, which were all euro-mundistas. It was the Atlantic waterfront: Holland, Belgium, France, Portugal, England … but that was eventually over with the Second World War. The anti-colonial movement starts. And there is another intervention of the United States, again the idea of taking control. If you take a look at the peace documents of 1939-45 there is a distinction between the important nations and the others. The idea of taking control through the security council was precisely about that. Well, then, a man showed up. His name was Coudenhove-Kalergi and although having been born in Japan, he was actually Austro-Hungarian and taught in America. He started a huge campaign in favour of the reorganisation of the international order, and consequently, Europe. He held several conferences and great leaders were there to discuss the future of Europe. There, the ideas of our old Bohemian King were remembered. Other major organisations focused on Europe managed to emerge. One of them was something called The European Documentation and Information Centres, which was mainly led by the archduke Otto von Habsburg[3]. Why did he become so interested in Portugal? Because, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire fell apart in the war of 1914-18, he was only a boy and came to Portugal. He spoke Portuguese just like us and his father died in Madeira, in a very precarious situation. There was something I found very touching: His father was in the process of getting sanctified, he was already blessed, and his son came to Portugal and made a speech at the Catholic University. He said: “My father´s body will stay in Madeira, because Madeira never had a saint”.         

Francisco: He is the first…

Moreira: Fantastic, right? Well, that man had centres in about eleven European countries. He had friends and the most important one, Admiral Sarmento Rodrigues, was a great Portuguese figure[4] who accompanied him. As I also accompanied the admiral, I got into it as well. I even ended up being the president of one of the centres. There´s a funny story actually. Once, we went to Sweden because we would meet in different countries and that time the representatives of each country stayed in a chateau. One Sunday morning someone knocked on the doors: “There´s a service!” So everyone went. There was a lady with a pianola to play some music during the service and also a German priest assisted by Father Aguiar, the one from College Pius XII. At a certain point, people burst into laughter. Because, as the Father explained, that was the first Roman-Catholic service in Sweden since Luther. And why? Because the archduke had a family privilege given to him by the Holy See. He even had an altar which he carried with him. So, the priest wanted to conduct a solemn ceremony with music, but the one person he got was that lady who could only play the Luther hymn!

Francisco: She only knew that one!

Moreira: Indeed! (laughs)

Francisco: As you´re talking about religion, let me ask you: what is the role of religion in the European identity?

Moreira: An essential role, essential!

Francisco: Nevertheless, there are movements which want to keep some distance.

Moreira: Yes, but that´s something else. Because it is important to distinguish between the organisation of the institution that intervenes and its doctrine. A friend of mine, who is a Franciscan, died a while ago. He wrote a book whose last sentence is the following: ”God exists”. I was a great friend and they asked me to comment on that. I said: “He didn´t need to tell me what my mother had already told me”. Well, what truly started giving unity to Europe was the intervention of the bishop of Rome after the fall of the Roman Empire with the barbarians. Something curious happened: The barbarians were considered pure by the ones who suffered from the decadence of the empire. They were ethical and faced the corruption which perverted the empire. And, because of that, the Pope´s authority was huge as it was the one still standing. Christianity had a great evolution — few people noticed that the word Christianity is only used, if I´m not mistaken, in the second century not in the first, it took time — but there were the internal divisions, which have always been Europe´s problem. It took centuries before those internal divisions got to the idea of national States… In my point of view, the great king who led us to a national State, without knowing it would happen, was D. Dinis. Because D. Dinis appointed the first Portuguese admiral.  We are now celebrating 700 years of that nomination. Although being a small country, we have the biggest coastline in the peninsula. As a result, there were frequent attacks and robberies. And then, he decided to build the pine forest too.

Francisco: A line of protection?

Moreira: He needed material to build the navy.

Francisco: Ah!

Moreira: He set up the University. (Well, that is only fully grasped in the XIX century by a man called Acton, Lord Acton who says this: overall it is not the nation that forms the State; the State forms the nation.)  In fact, all this intervention by D. Dinis is an intervention of defense of his territory and also an economic one. But at the end of his dynasty, the principle of the succession is cut for the first time[5]. The representatives of the people elect the king, who is an illegitimate son.

Francisco: That´s when this idea is created…

Moreira: The nation – an expansion project which I suppose never crossed D. Dinis´s mind. So, that expansion began. Curiously, last year, two translations of the History of Portugal by Anglo-Saxon writers came out. The core of their investigation, which is fully independent, as it is written by foreigners, goes around this idea: how does one explain that such a small country built the greatest empire?

Francisco: We are talking about empires. Portugal is not the only European country that once had colonies. How far is Europe responsible for its former colonies?

Moreira: Europe has full responsibility. A great one. Right from the expansion movement, because the first movement was ours, that is indisputable. But, there is no doubt that there was a kind of attempt to westernise the world. That´s the truth. And that attempt only ends with the decolonisation after the war of 1939-45 with the United Nations. And this has a vital importance in my life, I´ll explain better in a while. At that time, I had already visited all the Portuguese colonies, except Timor, where I´ve never been to.      

Francisco: Back then, when?

Moreira: When the war ends and the United Nations are established, I belonged to the first Portuguese delegation. Because when I graduated I was very much dedicated to penal law and I wrote a thesis. I visited every colony in Africa and I wrote a book called “The prison system overseas”. I won the prize in this academy. At the time, it wasn´t a small prize. Abílio Lopes do Rego, that was the name of the prize. Eighty contos (unofficial multiple of the escudo, the Portuguese currency before the Euro).[6]

Francisco: What could one buy with it?

Moreira: I gave it to my mother to rebuild the village´s chapel, which had fallen apart. (laughs)

Francisco: Again this relationship with religion.

Moreira: And with the village!  Now, they´ve built a small library there in the village. I believe it´s called Adriano Moreira! I told you about that movement, but there was another one which was also important. Well, two at least. One of them was a private movement aiming at a European Federation, which is still working, but keeps a low profile. I guess they are in Switzerland right now. And there was an institute of political European studies in Lichtenstein with many Portuguese people. I also belonged to it along with admiral Sarmento Rodrigues (laughs). He was actually responsible for the furniture for one of the rooms there. So, there is a big movement which has nothing to do with the political power but, I must say again, it is somewhere between the Bohemian King and the projects of the end of any war.      

Francisco: We are back to the expansion, the colonies.

Moreira: The colonies… First, I am going to tell you how I realised it wasn´t working. The first delegation for the United Nations was directed, permanently, by the Ambassador [Vasco] Garin, who was a very competent man. But the first delegation that went to the Assembly was directed by Paulo Cunha, who was a professor we all respected, a great one. And professors have something in common: when in need, they turn to their old students. And one can´t say no! So, we went. And again I realized something. The first time was when I had such a moment of realization was when I visited the colonies and wrote a book about it. I used to teach Law´s normative subjects and I realised: “The practice doesn´t correspond to the reality”.        

Francisco: What wasn´t corresponding?

Moreira: There was forced labour. There was the situation of the indigenous people. There wasn´t citizenship for everyone. There were even some pessimistic people who thought they weren´t national according to the interpretation of the Constitution. But, in fact, I only became aware of that due to my reading. That´s when I saw a Sikh, dressed as a Sikh, who, for the first time in the history of Mankind, was heading towards the assembly of the United Nations and explaining how the world should be. The letter of the United Nations was written by Westerners. They were all Westerners. The human rights declaration is Western. Bus this was different.      

Francisco: There are realities other than the West.

Moreira: Yes, precisely. And there´s going to be an extraordinary shift. I did what I possibly could. It is hard for me to talk about it and I don´t mean to boast about it, but I think I wrote the first book about that movement. It is a doctoral thesis, but in the Complutense University of Madrid. It was not here.

Francisco: Why wasn´t it here in Portugal?

Moreira: The movement wasn´t as intense here and in those meetings in the European Centre I used to interact with a lot of people. There were a lot of Spanish professors. Actually, a lot of them were dissident from the Spanish government. But it was something Europe accepted. The professors of my jury are all dead now. And this one, to whom I dedicate this edition, professor [Luís García] Arias, was an extraordinary man. He came by once on his way back from Mexico, if I can recall, very sick and he spent two days here. Then he went to Madrid and he died.

Francisco: No one thought of Europe at the time?

Moreira: Europe took time to understand that the end of the empire was there. That started with the United Nations, and, once again, with the United States.

Francisco: And, in your opinion, nowadays, how far are we and all the other European countries who had colonies responsible for them?

Moreira: I can tell you what guided me when they called me. I cannot say I have a praising or a disapproving opinion of everybody. This demands humility, as each person acted according to the strength he or she was given by God. Due to the consequences, it is maybe easier to explain today, what was wrong back then. But, at the time, it was difficult to make anyone understand that. You´re probably aware of the anarchy that is lived in many countries that used to be colonies. At the same time we are shouting “democracy” everywhere. Words are submissive because they have different meanings. We had liberal democracies, non-liberal democracies, popular and corporate democracies. Everything was democracy with a single difference: a colonial system is most likely characterized as an extractive regime, not as a democracy. A governor would be called viceroy, as England liked — it was Queen Victoria who wanted to be an Empress, therefore, a viceroy for India. We had it too. Whether he was called governor or high commissioner, he had legislative, executive and judicial power. Because many judicial decisions had to be ratified in order to be executed. That power meant nothing when it came to nations. Because we ourselves got to the concept of our English Lord in the XIX century.

We Portuguese now say: we are Portuguese. Well, Lusitanians, Visigoths, Muslims, Jews, Slaves, … We are Portuguese. This mixture takes time. I think the Lord is quite right. I came up with this idea once in Mozambique. There was a female painter of mixed race, who was a very good painter. I met her again in Italy. She married an Italian painter and I still have a painting she sent me. Do you know how she named the painting? “Let my people through”. It was not “my nation”. In fact, the nation is not a phenomenon. It is the tribe, they include several phenomena.        

Francisco: Isn´t it a phenomenon of identity?

Moreira: What did they fight against? They fought against the power they wanted for themselves. So, when they take power, it´s the old power. Therefore, where is democracy? It takes time. And this needs to be understood. One cannot approve of it, one has to fight it. But there is also a huge problem of consciousness.

I´ll give you an example: do you remember that English and French attempt when the members of the Security Council wanted to prevent Nasser from nationalising Suez? Nasser even tried a very simple military maneuver: he sank a ship with concrete in the canal. Well, at the same time they held a conference in Geneva. It was of an important private institution from England: the Anti-Slavery Society. I went to that congress. Of all the people there — the former Counsellor Franco Nogueira from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the young Franco Nogueira —   we were all boys. Among other things the aim of that meeting was to improve inspection and control against slavery around the Indian Ocean. But this didn´t favour us at all, as it made us rely on Goa. India managed to be responsible for that inspection. Of course, what they wanted was to occupy Suez. As you know, that was prevented. It was a disaster for the prestige of England and France.

But, do you know what the [Anti-Slavery] Society concluded? There must have been from 300 to 400 thousand slaves of first generation in the Middle East. They came from Senegal. Slave Travel Check. They paid for the expenses of the journey and on top of everything they had to go through a process related to the conversion to Islamism. They convinced them they were on their way to Mecca. So, see where we are now!           

Francisco: That´s why, when we look at Europe today – and we´ll cover that later on – we, as a group of European countries, need to ask ourselves: what still needs to be done as far as Angola and Mozambique, the countries we colonised, is concerned?   

Moreira: It is still a mystery how Portugal managed to build an empire. And I have the impression that in order to face the new world which is coming, I believe and I´ve written about it, Portugal is now an exogenous country, because it suffers the consequences of the decisions it didn´t make, or it is an exiguous state when it gets to participate, but doesn´t have a big weight. In-between appeals and obligations, the handicap is constant. We see it every day. So, I sometimes remember Jean Monnet´s intervention. He never held important political office, but his thoughts were crucial, be it in the First World War, where he worked to help the Allies, be it in the Second World War and with the creation of the European Union. But at the end of his life, if you check his memoirs, he says: “If it were today, I wouldn´t start with economy, I would start with culture”…  

Francisco: Well, is Europe a political project?

Moreira: I would start with the culture. That is the big problem. Right now the authenticity of the principles is being challenged by this thing with England. Notice that these are all consequences. Should we, the states, be national? England is not a national state.

Francisco: On the contrary.

Moreira: They are at the risk of having internal unity problems, isn´t that right? Then, Europe shows up as a severe unit: you either follow the principles or you´re out. And that´s what is happening, although at the same time, inside Europe the reform movements are getting bigger and bigger. Not a long time ago, the president of the Commission came to Lisbon and told the newspapers that we needed a government whose president was elected by all Europe. He needs a Finance Minister, a Minister of Foreign Affairs, an Army Minister. He needs everything. Personally, I got this impression: he is making up a government without State for a State that doesn´t have a government. 

Francisco: Do you think of yourself as European?

Moreira: I certainly do.

Francisco: More Portuguese or more European?

Moreira: There is no mismatch. That´s the cultural problem. Jean Monnet regretted, at the end of his life, not having started there.     

Francisco: Do you think Europe is a political or a cultural project these days?

Moreira: It is an economic project and it´s constantly growing. That is what gives Europe a kind of internal hierarchy, which is not a good path to follow. That´s why Jean Monnet talked about culture. What Europe needs is equal dignity. It doesn´t need the hierarchical superiority of some countries.  And today, superiority is no longer military. It comes from economy, from the scientific breakthroughs, etc. which not all countries are capable of. Therefore, the challenge regarding equal dignity is fundamental. And there was another mistake in Europe regarding culture. When the Berlin wall fell down, it was pure joy for Europe. Everyone joined the European Union. There was no plan for joining the European Union. And they forgot that what was over was a regime of halves. It was half Europe, half Berlin, half democracy and half soviet regime. Everything was half of something. From the other side of the wall they fought for the old sovereignty while we had spent fifty years reorganising the democratic interaction of sovereignties. It comes as no surprise that elections are a bit unsettling this year, especially beyond the wall, due to the appearance of movements in favour of sovereignty. Because that´s what they wanted. The democratic experience was on this side. We are now suffering its consequences and, in my opinion, it is serious. Sometimes I wonder whether I did the right thing. I wrote a book called “West Autumn”. I´m not sure it is a good idea to write about the “West Autumn” in the final stage of my life.

Francisco: Why?

Moreira: Why? Take for instance this process in England. I´ve never seen a nonsense like this in the English history.      

Francisco: Why do you think this is happening?

Moreira: I don´t know!We lack the men who built Europe. Notice how the evolution has taken place. Who carried out the project of the European Union? Christian democracy did. The French were from the Christian democracy, the Italian were from the Christian democracy, the German were from the Christian democracy. Now, it´s the far right. But what on earth is this? A while ago a young man told me he was a democratic Christian, but everyone else told him he was from the far right. And I told him the following: “Tell them you are from the far left of Pope Francis”. (laughs)

Francisco: It´s curious that the early treaties didn´t even predict the possibility of a country leaving the European Union. How did we get here?

Moreira … because hierarchy established that! Germany thinks they are in charge of Europe. France, with this letter from its President[7], which I´m not saying is a failure in terms of arguments, assumes it has power which it doesn´t. Because it has lost the authority within its own country rapidly, which is a shame. Therefore, hierarchy in Europe originated division and that´s why I keep going back to Jean Monnet and his grief. Today you have the rich and the poor and notice that the poor establish the line of the Roman Empire. It´s Greece, the island, Italy, France, Portugal … These have problems. France not that much. It looks like the Roman Empire, now poor and surrounded by the barbarians. They came through the same path our people now take looking for jobs. And this wasn´t supposed to happen. That was not the dream of Coudenhove-Kalergi, the Austrian Archduke from the Lichtenstein Institute. It wasn´t that!          

Francisco: Are you more pessimistic today about the future of Europe than you´ve already been?

Moreira: Yes, a bit more because they subordinated dignity to hierarchy. Who is in charge of Europe? You don´t now. No one actually elected the ones in charge. I saw it. But this must be me, an old man, recalling a period when “we were the ones in charge” (laughs). The beginning of the European Union was a submission period for us. The Portuguese ministers had to account to the employees of the European Union for everything[8]. It was hard for me. That is not the equal dignity of the States. And one needs to recognise that the principle, the objective, the ambition of the Bohemian King only has one constructive answer: equal dignity. Because if you turn to the power hierarchy, you´ll never have peace again.

Francisco: This way, where do you see Europe in 10, 20 years?

Moreira: I don´t know. If they continue to go down this road, there will be internal scissions. The populists express dissatisfaction. But they lack something: a project. That´s why I say one needs to see if the founders of the European Union have descendants (laughs), if one can summon them. On top of everything, we have this thing in America, which is unbelievable.  

Francisco: Is nationalism the biggest threat to Europe?

Moreira: In that way, it is. The other day I heard an interview of a former American ambassador about Trump´s politics. She said: “He starts shooting and only then does he look for the target” (laughs).  

Francisco: Only then does he look for the target he aimed at!

Moreira: I´ll tell you something: he replaced political doctrine with the “I think”. And the “I think” has this outcome. Jean Monnet was right. Europe should have started with culture. The equal dignity of the States. Look at England right now, it´s not a nation and there might be serious problems.   

Francisco: And then the border of Ireland…

Moreira: Ireland´s drama belongs to my life! It could come back! And then, when Europe is very much worried about military safety the man from the United States wants us to pay more. The Commission says they need a Minister of Defense and Safety and England is leaving with Europe´s biggest fleet and army. Do you think this is clever?

Francisco: You´re talking about the fact that Jean Monnet regretted that he didn´t start with culture. What mistake from your generation wouldn´t you like to see mine making?

Moreira: The inequality regarding economic or even scientific and technical capacity cannot be seen as a privilege for hierarchy. It should be for everyone´s sake. What I am about to say might sound a bit scary. It is the first time we are in an era in which nuclear power can actually destroy Earth. Several countries have nuclear energy. I remember a dialogue which was gathered in one of those books about war memoirs. It was a conversation between the former President of the United States [Harry Truman], the one who bombed Japan, with Churchill. It was very pragmatic. He said: we have this instrument, let´s not tell Russia, because if Russia finds out they´ll declare war to Japan so as to solve the conflict. On the other hand, if I want to beat Japan, I´ll have to sacrifice around 100 thousand American soldiers. I´ll use the bomb. And Churchill said: “But that´s terrible”. And the American president said: “Japan doesn´t deserve any consideration after what they did to us in Pearl Harbour”. It was an act of retaliation. I remember the first images we saw. A little kid walking down the road with no skin on his back. Do you remember this?

Francisco: I remember watching it …

Moreira: And right now this could happen in at least ten countries… at least!

Francisco: They have the means to do it.

Moreira: Can you imagine? What would happen to Earth? It would disappear.

Francisco: So, this is a threat to much more than just our European politics.  

Moreira: It´s awful! I remember Bismarck saying that the military dangers were not as serious as today. Of course it was always hideous, there were terrible human consequences. But Bismarck had that clarity of vision: a simple frivolity can create a human disaster. If he was living now, he wouldn´t say it softly, he would shout it. I don´t know if you noticed but the last commander of the American troops in Europe who finished his term of office a month ago stated the following: “Within 15 years there will be a war between China and the United States”.

Francisco: Tell me something. We´ve covered several topics, but we skipped one chapter of your life which was your political life. At the beginning, when you finished your degree and did your internship, you were close to the opposition of the regime. What made you become a minister?

Moreira: My position still stands – even regarding the current policies. The differences of opinion between the parties are legitimate, but there´s only one parliament. And there must be something that explains the fact that there is only one parliament. Well, I always have the impression that I never belonged to any party until I joined CDS. I studied and I worked. That´s what I did. I got involved in those movements because it was the norm, because of values such as equal dignity.

Francisco: An academic, an intellectual …

Moreira: Yes. And I wrote as well. However, when I came from the United Nations, I started saying: this isn´t going to hold, change is necessary. At that time, Salazar called me and said: “You are very critical of our structure”. And I answered: “It´s not difficult to know that.” Then he told me the following: “I agree that reforms are necessary, but I need people who know how to make them. I would like to invite you to make them”. He even put it like this: “You have reasons to say no” (laughs). And I told him and this is historical: “Mr. President, you are not the only person in this country who can put national interest above differences of opinion.” However, there was one problem: I didn’t belong to any party, I didn´t even belong to Mocidade Portuguesa[9]. I asked him: “Who is going to help me?”. He said: “I will.” And I said: “That´s not enough. What I have to do demands a big team – a team I can trust.” I gathered the scientific council of the institute and they said: We´re all with you, let´s do this.[10] What I had in mind, meant that white people would stay in the former colonies. They wouldn´t return and become the retornados[11]. It was Mandela who eventually found the right name for this kinf of society: The rainbow nation. The Rainbow Nation. White, black, mixed-race, Indians. It is an amazing concept. He had quite an imagination … And because of that I suggested Mandela become an academic here. He never came, but he sent his wife, who had graduated from the Faculty of Humanities here and was a member of the board of the United Nations at the time[12]. I really admire Nelson Mandela because he spent most part of his creative life in jail. He was in such bad conditions, he was isolated from the world.  He didn´t have a TV, radio or newspapers. And then, he got out and grasped the world in a few months. I don´t know if you read the memoirs of his secretary.      

Francisco: I haven´t.

Moreira: Read it. There´s a fine Portuguese translation. It just came out. First of all, the title is something. “Good morning, Mr. Mandela”. He didn´t want any titles. So the secretary would come to work and say “good morning, Mr. Mandela”. She was white, brought up in an apartheid family and worked with him until the end of his life. She was passionate about his ideas. Once they visited the Saudi Arabian king, who doesn´t receive women. And Mandela said: “You see, at my age I really need someone else by my side, so I´m taking my granddaughter”. And so she went, wearing the burqa. And when she came in, she looked at her hands… . “If he sees my hands, he´ll know I can´t be his granddaughter!” (laughs). It is a very funny book, it´s a heartwarming book. Mainly in the way that a young girl becomes passionate about that black man who was already old and couldn´t go anywhere without help. There´s so much humanity in it. This gentleman, even the words he left us with, the Rainbow Nation…      

Francisco: It is a very interesting concept.

Moreira: It is. I wouldn´t have thought of it. But I put an end to the situation of the indigenous people. And the forced labour. When I introduced the Code of Labour Laws[13], the International Labour Organisation asked me to carry out an inspection, to make sure it was for real. And I said immediately: “Be my guest!” And all the work was very much praised. “This is for real. It is the most advanced in Africa.” That´s what they said. I put an end to the mandatory cultures. It was a huge extension of territory in which you could only grow cotton. And, for example, if a native lived there and planted a banana tree, they´d pull it. Their profit was miserable. And I put an end to it.    

Francisco: Why did you only stay two years in government?

Moreira: Because after that time Dr. Salazar summoned me. I must say I can´t complain about him. He was always, even after that, quite pleasant. Maybe because he respected me after all. He said: “When I invited you, you told me that you needed support to carry out your reforms. I told you, you could count on me and you said that wasn´t enough. But I kept my word”. And I answered: “You have”. So far, I hadn´t quite understood why he had summoned me. “Well, but the reactions I´m getting as a consequence of your reforms make it difficult for me to maintain my position of President in this Government. We have to change our policies.” And so I replied — and this is literally what I said, I wrote it in my memoirs: “Mr. President, you have just changed Minister”. And he said: “I saw that coming. I knew you would say that”. Then I left. I climbed down the stairs — I don´t know if you know the fort in Estoril, there´s a staircase and he worked up there. He called me: “Professor, can’t we talk about this next week?” And I answered: “You can, with the new Minister”. “And where do I get one?” And I said: ”According to what you told me, you don’t want a reformer. So for a manager check the list of members of the Overseas Council — I had replaced most of them — you’ll find an honest person”.     

Francisco: How does one live after having been Salazar´s Minister?

Moreira: I went back to teaching and that was it.

Francisco: Did you want to go back to politics?

Moreira: Not at all! I had just been doing something I thought I should do as a Portuguese citizen.

Francisco: So, you didn´t see yourself as a politician.

Moreira: No. I thought it was the way it was. Well, I also had a great friendship with the man of the Lusotropicalism, Gilberto Freyre[14], who was highly attacked. When he came to Portugal, he went to Goa. Do you know who invited him? [Admiral] Sarmento Rodrigues. He had already written “The masters & the slaves“, he was very well-known. But if you read the last book he wrote about Angola, “Adventure and Routine”, he really attacks the diamond company, and you come to understand he is not collaborating with any of the government´s propaganda. He just acknowledges growth. And no one really knows Agostinho da Silva´s[15] role in this matter. I was his great friend and it´s actually a very funny story. We had a mutual friend and, once, when I was in the Ministry, that friend came to me and told me: “Look, Agostinho da Silva is a professor in Brasília and he wants to build a library. A centre of Portuguese studies. He thinks you´re the only person who would be interested in this”. I answered: “I´ll see”. I started talking to the publishers and I got him an amazing library. They even threw a party there!

Francisco: I´d like to talk about a concept which is very important for our idea of Europe today, which is the concept of freedom. In Portugal, we have a particular relationship with this concept. Was there freedom during Estado Novo?

Moreira: There was a big fear of the Soviet advance. That´s what guided the conservatism of the government. That´s unquestionable. And even the children were raised to believe that. It wasn´t only here. However, I think people like Marquês de Pombal and Dr. Salazar…  Marquês de Pombal[16] waited for centuries before he was being honored with a monument in Lisbon.

Francisco: On the roundabout.

Moreira: On the roundabout. It couldn´t be right away. In fact, there were letters from that time when he was in Pombal which show how clever he was. Because, as long as he lived, the worst thing that happened to him was going to Pombal. But they didn´t do anything else. Dr. Salazar has to wait as well. It was clear that the regime had taken severe measures against any opponents. Inhuman measures, because being locked up is always inhuman.

Francisco: The professor was there as well.

Moreira: Yes, I was there, I know very well what if feels like.

Francisco: Can you tell that story?

Moreira: It´s very simple. I struggled to do my internship as I told you. And then I applied for a contentious position at Standard Electric. The boss there was Dr. António Ribeiro, and I was a twenty-two or twenty-three-year-old kid. António Ribeiro was funny, he was really humorous. He had an office in Rua do Ouro. One day he told me: “Look, you have to go to the hospital” — a hospital for mental illnesses that was there on the way to the airport — “because a friend of mine is imprisoned there — he happened to be a coronel of high rank —, and they´ve accused him of a conspiracy against the government. Go there and look into it because I am his friend and I want to take care of it as he doesn´t have any money to afford a lawyer”.

And so I went. I got there and the crème de la crème of the country was there! A bunch of officials. They thought they hadn´t committed any crime because there was this man who convinced them that the President wanted support to replace the government. So, they signed a piece of paper.  When I heard that, I said: “But look: according to the military status, you aren´t permitted to be incarcerated here. You can only be in a military facility. Therefore, I am going to apply for the habeas corpus.”

See, I can no longer remember how old I was, but it was in my twenties. I told them: “I only saw one police officer at the door. Why don´t you put on your uniform and we´ll go to the Ministry of War and ask him what on earth this is?” They said: “No, that would be insubordination.” Conspirators! (laughs) Well, I applied for the habeas corpus. Back then, it was something dangerous for a lawyer, because if it would have been rejected one could be suspended and would have to pay a fine. And it was rejected, because they had already been transferred to military facilities. So when it got to the Supreme Court, it didn´t have any foundation anymore. See? And in prison Mário Soares was very nice — he was almost my age — and he came to me immediately.

I even remember I was reading the “Philosophy of history” by Hegel. And he put it like this: “Look, why are you reading such revolutionary things?” And I answered: “I´m applying to become a Miguelist (a reference to those who supported the regime).” We became friends forever. He was a dear friend. I was with him at the end of his life and he had a painful one. But his doings in the Portuguese Government aren´t going to be erased. But anyway, that´s what happened. Dr. Salazar had the process closed. I had stated that Mr. Santos da Costa wouldn´t obey and wouldn´t transfer a general called [José Marques] Godinho because the doctors said that the transfer was dangerous for his health. And he dies. And it became a criminal act. I said this and …          

Francisco: And that´s it!

Moreira: That was it![17] Anyway, it´s not worth it… Then there are some details, I´m sorry, because I wasn´t able to be very considerate towards people. The result was nothing too wrong and they even said “you have a lot of reasons to say no”. But it had been him who had the process closed.

Francisco: So, you were arrested for a while.

Moreira: About two months. One month and half, two months.

Francisco: Did you value freedom more after that?

Moreira: Not really. I read a lot! (laughs) A bunch of books! I didn´t care about politics anymore. However, as I wrote a lot about Europe and Christian democracy after the carnation revolution they thought of me[18]. I had the same situation again, someone telling me it´s a matter of national interest. There was even a newspaper, I guess it was the Always cool… Once they published a drawing of Marão on the cover and there were the heads of Sarmento Rodrigues, the Minister of Interior, the Minister of Finance, the high commissioner for the colonies and Mozambique… And on top one could read: “The Most Serene House of Bragança” (laughs) It was very funny! The Most Serene House of Bragança![19] Can you imagine? Anyway. So, I thought I had to do it. And I must say I enjoyed being there. The interventions were of high quality.

Francisco: What do you regret these days?

Moreira: I believe I always thought what mattered was the national interest. Therefore, everything that contributed to the equal dignity of the States was mandatory for every Portuguese citizen. Whoever they were.

Francisco: You were minister of Overseas at a moment Portugal was turning to Africa and not to Europe. Today, we turn more to Europe than to Africa. What has changed?

Moreira: Yes, because it was absolutely clear to me that in a euro-mundista empire — which is an empire, although people forget it — we either contributed to a global pacific system in which dignity was recognised or we would have a rough time. There was a common thesis with which I don´t agree, but I must accept it. For instance, “The Stone Raft”[20]. Once in a while these ideas come up. That was the overall feeling[21]. When people ask me about that, the answer I give is: I often wonder whether I did everything I could.   

Francisco: Europe in 50 years. Can you make a prediction?

Moreira: No. I´ll see it from up there. (laughs)

Francisco: Thank you very much Professor Adriano Moreira for having accepted our invitation.


[1] Regional Houses are associations of people who were born in different regions of the country, but then moved to the big cities such as Lisbon and who gather occasionally to celebrate the traditions and customs of their hometowns. These houses are usually associated to cafés, restaurants or ethnographic groupings related to the traditions of the corresponding regions.

[2] José Ramos-Horta was the President of East Timor between 2007 and 2012. During the Indonesian occupation he was one of the most important voices of the resistance, representing the Timorese while in exile. In 1996, he was awarded the Peace Nobel Prize along with the bishop of Dili, Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.

[3] Being the oldest son of the emperor Charles I, Otto von Habsburg was the last Crown-Prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was a member of the European Parliament for the German party CSU between 1979 and 1999. He died in 2011 at the age of 98.

[4] Born in Freixo de Espada à Cinta (district of Bragança), Manuel Sarmento Rodrigues was an admiral from the Portuguese Navy. In 1922 he took part in the first aerial crossing of the South Atlantic along with Gago Coutinho and Sacadura Cabral. He moved up the career ladder within the Navy and became a colonial administrator, having governed the Portuguese Colony of Guinea in the 40s. He was Minister of the Colonies in the 50s. He died in 1979.

[5] The Portuguese Kingdom was ruled for almost 800 years by four different dynasties. King D. Dinis was the sixth King of Portugal (1279-1325), member of the first dynasty and direct descendant of D. Afonso Henriques, founder of the country. Sixty years after his death, the line of succession was cut for the first time in the country when King D. Fernando I died without leaving male descendants. The throne was then claimed by D. João I, King D. Pedro´s I illegitimate son (D. Fernando´s I father), who was chosen by the assembly of the kingdom that gathered in Coimbra in 1385.

[6] The Award Abílio Lopes do Rego was created in 1950 in the Lisbon Academy of Sciences and its purpose was to “stimulate the progress of studies related to overseas administration in Portugal” (Regulation of Academic Prizes, Year Book of 1977-1978 of the Lisbon Academy of Sciences). In the 60s, according the estimates of Pordata, 80 contos (80 thousand escudos) were worth more than 35 thousand euros.

[7] The interview was conducted shortly after an article by Emmanuel Macron came out on 4th March 2019 in several European newspapers. It was directed to all European citizens and focused on the pressing matter concerning Brexit, considered as a “symbol” of the dangerous situation Europe is facing.

[8] Adriano Moreira was a member of the Portuguese Parliament during the first 10 years Portugal belonged to the EEC (European Economic Community) and also during the negotiations which led to the membership.

[9] Mocidade Portuguesa was a youth organisation created by Estado Novo and inspired by a military model, which was for some time compulsory until the age of 14. It aimed at spreading discipline and devotion to the Homeland. 

[10] Adriano Moreira became Minister of Overseas under António de Oliveira Salazar´s regime in 1961.

[11] Retornados was the word used to designate the thousands of Portuguese who lived in the former colonies in Africa and who had to move away to Portugal after the decolonisation process. Despite the word, most people didn´t actually come back, as they had been born in the former colonies. The simultaneously arrival of thousands of retornados to Portugal had a huge impact in the Portuguese society, especially in Lisbon and Oporto. Adriano Moreira explains that according to his management model for the colonies, the “white people” would remain there. So, according to him, a phenomenon such as the retornados wouldn´t take place.

[12] Graça Machel, married to Nelson Mandela from 1998 until his death in 2013.

[13] In 1962, when Adriano Moreira was Minister of Overseas, the Code of Rural Labour for the overseas provinces was approved.

[14] Gilberto Freyre was one of the most remarkable Brazilian intellectuals, mostly dedicated to sociology and history. One of his first concerns was the relationship between Portugal and its former colonies. In fact, he was the “father” of the lusotropicalism, a sociological theory which studied the Portuguese colonization phenomenon. His work received great criticism and he was even accused of racism. He died in 1987 aged 87.

[15] Agostinho da Silva was a Portuguese philosopher who lived most of his life in Brazil. Although his work focused essentially on the concept of freedom, he is mentioned here due to his contribute to the study of the Portuguese colonialism with the creation of a library dedicated to Portuguese Studies in Brasília. He died in 1994 at the age of 88. 

[16] Marquês de Pombal (Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo originally) led the Portuguese government during the reign of D. José I in the 18th century. He is considered to be one of the most controversial figures of Portuguese history. He was responsible for the reconstruction of Lisbon after the earthquake in 1755, he ended up with slavery within the country and many acts of torture as well. On the other hand, he was in great part responsible for the expulsion of the Jesuits from Portugal and the creation of literary and artistic censorship mechanisms. Nowadays, the statue of Marquês de Pombal, in the roundabout with the same name, is one of the most important central monuments of Lisbon.

[17] Adriano Moreira spent two months in the Aljube prison (where he met Mário Soares, therefore the reference to the historical socialist leader in the previous answer) after having accused the Minister of War, Fernando Santos Costa, of the murder of General Marques Godinho – suspect of attempting to overthrow Salazar´s regime. Godinho died in prison because he wasn´t transferred so as to receive medical care. This accusation ended up putting Adriano Moreira behind bars. Only when Salazar himself intervened, did he get out. “Go and free the boy, who, in the middle of this story, was the only person with dignity”, said Salazar, according to Adriano Moreira´s memoirs. 

[18] Adriano Moreira was the President of CDS (Christian-democratic party) between 1986 and 1988. Portugal joined the European communities in 1986. He was a member of the Portuguese Parliament until 1991. 

[19] The Most Serene House of Bragança was the Royal House who governed Portugal between 1641 and 1910. That one cover of Always Cool presented several politicians from Trás-os-Montes on top of Marão mountain range with a reference to that Royal House, whose name referred to Bragança.

[20] “The Stone Raft” is a novel by José Saramago in which the author tells the story of the splitting of the Iberian Peninsula from Europe while it is set off course in the ocean. The novel, published in 1986 (the same year Portugal joined the EEC) is a criticism to the European Union mechanisms, since Portugal and Spain were seen as being set aside from the rest of the continent.

[21] The feeling of the Portuguese people towards the European Union has been interpreted with a certain disappointment throughout times, especially due to the inequality felt among its countries.