US Chargé d’Affaires in Portugal

news: US Chargé d’Affaires in Portugal

ADRIENNE S. O’Neal, current Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy, was a guest speaker at the first Americans in Portugal (AmP) luncheon of 2005, held recently at the Cascais Cultural Centre.

O’Neal opened her speech, entitled ‘New Times in America and Abroad’, on a personal note: “My career working for the US government overseas began in 1983. I remember how welcome I felt as an American when I travelled abroad. That goodwill, of course, has not dissipated entirely, but the world’s impression of America has changed somewhat recently.”

‘Iraq is not an example of unilateralist action’

“It is important to look ahead to President Bush’s second term and its potential implications both for US foreign policy and how this policy is understood abroad. What type of foreign policy may be expected from the second Bush administration? The President has said repeatedly that he wants to improve relations with European allies and will start this process during his visit to the continent in February.

“In spite of his numerous overtures to Europe, some people here on the continent complain that President Bush is a unilateralist in his approach to foreign policy. But I would contend that such a judgment is based on misconceptions of one major issue – Iraq. Contrary to opinions current in some circles, multilateralism is alive and well. Over 30 countries have sent troops, and other forms of support, to the Multinational Force in Iraq, including Portugal.

“According to the dictionary, the word “unilateral” is defined as conduct “done or undertaken by one only”. Iraq is not an example of unilateralist action. Rather, it was a multilateral effort of many nations which coalesced to initiate effective action. But it is not only in Iraq where multilateral foreign policy flourishes. There are many other important examples such as North Korea, Iran and the Middle East peace process.”

‘Portugal should do more business with the US’

“About the economic situation of the United States, it is clear that the Administration faces enormous challenges related to the budget. These may impact on both foreign and domestic policy in significant ways. The President recently announced that he would submit a federal budget that will cut the deficit in half in five years and help to maintain strict spending discipline, both of which could help to ease the pressure on the dollar.

“It seems that the Portuguese media mainly has focused on the negative side of the dollar/euro exchange rate picture. Such a view emphasises that Portuguese exports will be too expensive for Americans, resulting in a drop in exports. This interpretation, however, neglects a broader context.

“Over the past 10 years, Portugal has focused its attention on its import and export activity within Europe. Portugal currently trades more with Italy and the Netherlands, for example, than it does with the US. These Euro imports are paid for in quite expensive euros. It may be that the way to tap into the opportunities presented by the low dollar is for Portugal to do more business with the United States. Everything from the US now costs about 50 per cent less than it did a couple of years ago.”

Tsunami relief

“In the past few, difficult, weeks, the US also has taken a leadership role, along with Australia and other allies, in providing tsunami relief. In addition to pledging 350 million dollars in official government assistance, our military has delivered disaster assistance quickly and, crucially, has managed to reach victims in remote areas.”

American Embassy in Lisbon

“I’d like to talk about some of the changes and challenges at the American Embassy in Lisbon. The Consular Section, headed by Brian Oberle, focuses on providing direct services to the public. In September of last year, the Consular Section began to distribute a free, e-mailed newsletter to US citizens resident in Portugal, entitled ‘US Consular News – Lisbon’. This newsletter includes security updates, news of special events, changes in US regulations or procedures, and updated contact information for consular staff members in Lisbon, Ponta Delgada and Funchal. More than 200 individual citizens, schools, hotels and other organisations are already receiving this newsletter. You can join our mailing list through the US Embassy website –

Visa Waiver Program

“As many of you have already heard, Portuguese citizens, who wish to enter the US on the Visa Waiver Programme, are now required to have a machine-readable passport. The Department of Homeland Security has granted a one-time exemption to this requirement for travellers who enter the US before April 26, 2005. Of course, in the not-so-distant future, biometric passports will be required, but the US recognises that it may take some time before our allies are able to implement such a programme.”

For further information regarding the Visa Waiver Programme, please contact Brian Oberle at the Embassy on 00 351 217 273 300.

Bob Hughes