"What we are celebrating today is the inaugural moment of a pioneering institution, which for the first time in history brings together the Atlantic countries around what unites them which is the Atlantic Ocean. It seems strange that this has never happened in the past", João Gomes Cravinho said in remarks to journalists.
The minister was speaking at Praia da Vitória, on Terceira Island, in the Azores, on the sidelines of a simulation exercise of a rescue at sea, in a piracy situation, which involved the Portuguese Navy and Air Force.
The exercise ended an intensive course, started on Monday, at Lajes base, on Terceira island, on maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea, which was attended by 25 auditors from 13 nationalities.
This was the first initiative organized by the Atlantic Center, which is formalized, through a joint political declaration signed by 16 countries.
João Gomes Cravinho said that the proposal of the Portuguese Ministry of Defense, launched by the previous minister, Azeredo Lopes, was "received very spontaneously, very immediately" and "with great satisfaction" by the other countries that make up the center.
"What we are proposing here is, in reality, a new perspective, a new front in support of peace and stability in the Atlantic Ocean, which is so important for us and for so many other countries", he stressed.
According to the Portuguese defense minister, the center will allow a political dialogue "that never happened", involving all parts of the Atlantic, but also the sharing of knowledge between universities, research centers and armed forces of different countries and the training and education .
"This week we had the first course for many, hopefully, bringing together auditors and many countries in the Atlantic and teachers from a large number of countries to create shared knowledge", he reinforced.
Participation in the center is "open to all Atlantic countries", with the fundamental criterion "the commitment to peace and stability in the Atlantic".
In addition to Portugal, Germany, Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Spain, United States of America, France, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Morocco, United Kingdom, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal and Uruguay sign the joint declaration.
The center's headquarters will be installed at the base of Lajes, on Terceira Island, in infrastructures unoccupied by the United States Air Force.
"We want the base of Lajes to be the epicenter of the 'Atlantic Center'. The courses, like the one that ends today, will take place here at the base of Lajes, which has excellent facilities and there will be an investment by the Ministry of Defense in new infrastructures. -structures ", said the Portuguese minister.
The institution, which came to be called the Center for the Defense of the Atlantic, was announced as a way of mitigating the American military reduction at the Lajes base, which started in 2015, but, questioned about the jobs it could create. on Terceira island, the minister said that it is still not possible to quantify.
"The relevance of the Atlantic Center goes far beyond the mere idea of creating new jobs to replace jobs that have since disappeared. Some jobs will come, skilled jobs, which will lead to the settlement of people here on Terceira Island, but at this moment it is still too early to be able to quantify. In a few years we will be in a position to answer that question, but some jobs, certainly, "he said.