Javier Solana awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ

The former High Representative of the European Union, Javier Solana, has been awarded the Grand Cross of the Order of Christ by the Portuguese State.

The decoration was formally bestowed on the ex-EU ‘prototype foreign minister’ by the Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Luís Amado, at an official ceremony at the Palácio das Necessidades in Lisbon on Wednesday last week.

The decoration was bestowed in recognition of Javier Solana’s work over the past 10 years in conducting and negotiating consensus on European Union foreign policy over a number of difficult issues from the Middle East, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

During the short ceremony, Luís Amado said that the efforts and attentions that Javier Solana had shown towards Portugal were greatly appreciated.

Solana was an “extremely well thought of and prestigious figure who had always been in the front line of international politics,” he said, adding that the Spanish diplomat had always “recognised the role that Portugal was able to play in the world.”

Javier Solana was the European Union High Representative between 1999 and 2009 and Secretary General of NATO between 1995 and 1999. He was actively involved in two Portuguese Presidencies of the European Union in 2000 and 2007, which resulted in the signing of the Lisbon Treaty.

The Lisbon Treaty set out a number of objectives to bring Europe closer together on a range of inter-state governmental and foreign policy initiatives but stopped short of heralding the birth of a Brussels-run ‘Federal United States of Europe’.  

Despite disagreements and problems over sovereignty, subsidies and taxation rates, Javier Solana still believed that the European Union was the “finest, most solid and harmonious structure built in Europe since the end of World War II” and one which had helped preserve one of the longest periods of peace in Europe for its members for over 60 years.  

His great experience as an international diplomat for the EU was also drawn upon for the recent creation of the embryonic EU foreign office called the European External Action Service. C.G.