Madeleine Albright, one of the many ‘former big names’ speaking at the recent Estoril Conferences, has quipped that if things get any worse in the United States, she may have to seek asylum in Portugal.
The octogenarian former US secretary of state during the Clinton administration (1997-2001) may look like a ‘little old lady’ these days, but according to Diário de Notícias, the minute she started speaking “with a strong, clear voice” she “returned to being that woman in charge” who marked world affairs not so long ago – a fierce defender of NATO and one of the key figures who backed US involvement in Iraq.
In a speech that touched on myriad global challenges, she said: “Together, there is not much we can’t achieve. Separated, we can do very little”.
It was a direct allusion to the problems thrown up by President Trump’s attitude to so many pillars of ‘world order’: NATO’s Article 5 – centring on the premise that an attack on one is an attack on all – and the historic joint agreement on climate change forged in Paris only two years ago.
Today, like so many others on and off the world stage, she said she is simply “very concerned and sad” over the sound bites coming from the Trump administration.
America, in her opinion – as one of the world’s largest producers of greenhouse gases – “should be leading on many issues”, including climate change.
“I just hope I don’t have to ask for political asylum in Europe”, she quipped, reminding the floor that she began life as an immigrant from Prague (Czechoslovakia).
But the message coming out of the address that marked the end of this year’s Estoril Conferences was that “we cannot face a new generation of challenges disunited”, and “let these tensions do what 40 years of Soviet propaganda hasn’t managed”.
It was a triumph for plain-speaking at an event that is billed as a “meeting place for great thinkers, renowned personalities… where the most diverse geographies and ideologies discuss the most pressing issues related to Globalization”.
Albright’s hope, she said, lies with the freedom of the press.
“Journalism is the answer. The objective of the press, in a free country, is to be the adversary. This is the function of the fourth power, as we call it. To look for facts and publish them and defend the liberty of doing so”.