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And once again, Portugal wins

The presidency of Mário Centeno in the Eurogroup is the last success of a quiet but undismayed diplomacy that has already conquered the European Commission and the UN

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And once again, Portugal wins

First was euro, in January came UN, in May Eurovision and this December Eurogroup. Portugal Cup media headlines for disbelief of experts in field. Apart from successes of skills with ball and with song, directions in General Secretariat of UN and in Eurogroup reveal some triumphs of Lusa diplomacy that go far beyond ir economic weight. In January António Guterres took possession of UN General Secretariat and this December, Mário Centeno, preside over Eurogroup, Sanhedrin of finance ministers of eurozone.

"We don't bor anyone." All are welcome; "No one refuses to speak to us," said a few months ago, Fernando Medina, mayor of Lisbon. For socialist politician that was one of keys to city's tourist boom. "It will seem strange, but in world in which we live, being greeted with open arms has become an important value." "Just tread on Portugal, people feel relaxed."

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Portugal conveys peace, and its diplomats raise that value of tranquillity to ir work in shadows of great powers. Even today, Portuguese make crosses of how Durão Barroso was able to preside over ten years (2004-2014) European Commission. His government in Portugal was not appreciated by his own party, Social Democrat PSD, devoid of direction and personality.

The Government of socialist António Guterres, who was accused of same thing as Barroso, was also not brilliant, but after leaving office without penalty or glory, he was elected High Commissioner of United Nations for Refugees (2005-15). And from re, in a quiet, almost secret way, UN General Secretariat for World Pasmo was worked.

"My experience as an international business referee," says lawyer and political commentator José Miguel judice, "is that many times a small country, which has no power over ors, has a position of equilibrium that ors do not have;" Suspicions are minor. "That's case of Portugal."

Between Tyrians and Trojans, better a Portuguese. The formula of Barroso and following works. Neir North nor South, neir very red nor very blue, neir woman nor — very important — nor first option. Portuguese diplomacy traditionally plays second option. "Portugal will undoubtedly support Spain for Eurogroup," said Prime Minister António Costa a few months ago. But Spain did not show up. Now Portugal will support a Spanish for vice-presidency of European Central Bank replacing ... Vitor Constãncio. Yes, also Portuguese.

Judice is not a Portuguese optimist: "in small countries, as is Portugal, its citizens of quality tempt m more opportunities that y can find abroad, because in ir country re are not so many." Also arrival of Macron is changing some things in Europe and, finally, presidency of Eurogroup had to be for a socialist, and re were not many.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa: "We have gone from being ugly duckling to Swan Resplandenciente"

In election of Uno, it touched, said, woman and of Eastern Bloc; But Russia did not have a winning candidate, a candidate without being vetoed. In maelstrom of previous votes, with more or less preferences, but always with minimum vetoes appeared Guterres, champion of second option.

Guterres's first words to thank election were for Portuguese diplomatic corps. There revealed that y took time in absolute secret working all to one, each ambassador in his country of destination, not so much asking vote, like speaking, establishing friendships with his rulers.

"In Portugal re are many things that work wrong," says political and commentator José Manuel Fernandes, "but one thing that works well is diplomatic corps." "It is one of few bodies in public administration that aspires to be an elite, and has been doing a good job in Ministry of Foreign Affairs for decades."

"I was appointed ambassador to Madrid by government of Passos Coelho." I'm from PSD, but I'm still in my position as ambassador with a Socialist government, ' always explains Francisco Ribeiro de Menezes. His wife, Teresa Leal Coelho, also of PSD, disputed Medina Plaza de Madrid; But neir electoral confrontation leads to destitutions. "In Portugal we have tradition of only changing ambassadors for natural causes," Costa explained.

The choice of Mário Centeno to lead Eurogroup is no less surprising than designations of Barroso or Guterres. Centeno is finance minister of a country that has been rescued three times in last 40 years. The Troika led Portugal from 2011 to 2014. The Portuguese have endured, silent, that basic bread with chorizo had a luxury VAT.

In Portugal re is no dance of ambassadors with changes of government only are relieved by natural causes.

Only a year ago, German ash Wolfgang Schäuble announced a fourth bailout for Portugal and now Rye makes him eat his words. "It is Ronaldo of Ecofin", it declared surrendered, for first time, German who left ministry.

If Barroso and Guterres are blamed to be politically correct — like same Portuguese manners — it is not case of rye. With same affability that ors, however, has been singing forty to same that months later have chosen for Eurogroup. He faced m, blamed European Commission for making mistakes in sourn countries, criticizing IMF and OECD.

Contrary to cliché, Portuguese Government did not stoop its head. When still president, Dutchman Jeroen Dijsselbloem, said in March that countries of South spend European aid in "alcohol and women", it was Portugal — and not Spain or Greece — who reacted more forcefully demanding resignation of Dutchman. He didn't get it at time, but revenge has come in cold plate.

In less than two years, Rye has become a European leader, in a popular member within Eurogroup. Guindos speaks Spanish, Dijsselbloem in English and Moscovici in French. Neir Barroso nor Guterres had barriers to making mselves understood in three or four languages, nor did Prime minister, and even less so, president.

"The Ease for languages is a plus we have Portuguese", according to minister of Economy, Manuel Caldeira Cabral. Two years ago he managed to attract Web Summit from Dublin to Lisbon, a technological congress where only language is English. "Language is not a barrier but an opportunity."

Be it language, be it discreet and correct manners or pretense of never being first, but second, truth is that 2017 will go down in history as year in which Portugal conquered world. "We have passed," summed up Monday president of country, "to be ugly duckling to resplendent Swan."


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