Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made his statements during celebrations to mark the 111th anniversary of the Implementation of the Republic in a speech during which he called for "a more inclusive Portugal".
"The Portugal that we live in will never overcome the challenges of the economy and knowledge if we do not know how to assume, without traumas or complexities, that our national identity is made up by valuing our emigrants around the world, around six million, and also immigrants, 600,000 according to statistics”, he said.
The head of state added that national identity is made up "of races, cultures, religions, customs, practices, in the tens and hundreds, with their differences and their right to non-discrimination."
"They shape this national identity, give universal projection and spiritual wealth that belongs to all of us", he added, asking for "non-discrimination".
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also highlighted the need to move forward to respond to the challenges of the modern world more effectively. According to the President of the Republic, Portugal has taken "so many very important steps" in terms of development, but has still ended up "being left behind" in comparison with other countries, "even after years or decades of growth and economic convergence".
In his opinion, a broader focus on knowledge is needed, with "many, many more people in education, science and culture".
"The people we have now are more and better than they were 10, 20, 30 years ago – and, at best, the best of the best from around the world – but we need many, many more people, in schools, in health centres, in research, in companies and in social institutions", he concluded.
The ceremony, on 5 October, took place at a time of political transition at Lisbon City Hall, which marks the end of 14 years of socialist management, first with António Costa (2007-2015) and then with Fernando Medina, who lost the municipal elections of September 26 to Carlos Moedas (PSD), who attended the event at the invitation of the outgoing mayor.
This was the fifth speech by Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa at ceremonies commemorating the Implementation of the Republic, in Praça do Município, and the first of his second term as President of the Republic, which began in March 2021.
Last year, the ceremony took place with restrictions because of the covid-19 pandemic, and today the session takes place again in the main hall of the Paços de Concelho building, unlike previous editions, which took place outdoors, in Municipal square, with many guests. In 2019, the ceremony was symbolic and without speeches, as it coincided with the day of reflection for the local elections and with the national mourning decreed by the death of Diogo Freitas do Amaral.