In Azores since last Saturday. Image taken from Helena Carreiras twitter page: @carreirash

Azores geostrategic relevance is growing – defence minister

Helena Carreiras stresses “absolutely central place” Azores has in defence of national maritime territory

Portugal’s defence minister, Helena Carreiras, was in Ponta Delgada, the capital of the Azores today, reiterating the archipelago’s geostrategic “relevance”.

According to statements following an audience with the leader of the Regional Government (PSD/CDS-PP/PPM), at the headquarters of the Presidency, she said the relevance of the Azores is “growing”

“Threats” these days come from the east and south, she explained.

Says Lusa, the defence minister sees the islands as an “area of size and geostrategic significance of the greatest relevance at national level”.

Ms Carreira also highlighted the importance of the Atlantic in terms of defence and science, giving the example of the Atlantic Centre, an “initiative that aims to bring together all countries bordering the Atlantic in a “joint effort” to “ensure the study” of the ocean’s resources.

The Atlantic Centre, a Portuguese initiative comprising 16 countries, was officially presented on 14 May 2021, on Terceira Island, to form a “new front to support peace and stability in the Atlantic Ocean”, according to the then defence minister, Gomes Cravinho.

Helena Carreiras also referred to the fact that Azores is to receive a second crew to operate EH-101 helicopters while the Portuguese Navy will have a second lifeboat in the region.

Ms Carreiras was concluding a visit which began last Saturday and covered the islands of São Jorge, Faial, Terceira and São Miguel.

The minister classified the visit as “wonderful”, praising the “great cooperation” that exists between the “various entities” in the region.

“What I felt here is that the institutions play their role in a very collaborative way, and that makes a difference. I felt a great involvement of the local people in the recognition of this presence”, she said

Yesterday (Monday) Ms Carreiras announced that air base number 4, in Lajes, Azores, will have, by the end of the year, a second crew to operate the EH-101 helicopters, which carry out search and rescue missions. The Portuguese Air Force has two EH-101 Merlin helicopters stationed at air base number 4, but only one fixed crew. The allocation of a second crew is a long-standing demand of regional authorities, explains Lusa.

Source: LUSA