FRANCISCO RIBEIRO TELLES

Mozambique 2020 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

CPLP has played a significant role in promoting the Portuguese language, political and diplomatic consultation, and cooperation in all domains.

Francisco Ribeiro Telles
BIOGRAPHY

Francisco Ribeiro Telles was appointed Executive Secretary of CPLP in 2018. He started his career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal in 1983 and served in a number of positions, including the Office of the Prime Minister and the Permanent Mission of Portugal to the UN in New York. He was twice the consultant/adviser for international relations at the Civil House of the President of the Portuguese Republic. Between 2002 and 2018, he was Portugal's ambassador to Cape Verde, Angola, Brazil, and Italy. Distinguished with the Portuguese Orders of the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Infante D. Henrique and Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, and several foreign orders, Telles holds a degree in history from the Classic University of Lisbon.

2020 marks the 45th anniversary of the independence of most former Portuguese colonies in Africa, including Mozambique. How have relations between Portuguese-speaking countries evolved over the years?
The creation of CPLP in 1996 is evidence of how relations have developed between CPLP member states. After the 1974 revolution in Portugal and the following independence of Portuguese-speaking African countries, there was an initial period of mutual adjustment, but since then all the countries have strengthened historic, cultural, and political ties and increased cooperation based on the guiding principles of sovereign equality between states, non-interference in internal affairs, respect for national identity, reciprocity of treatment, and the promotion of peace, democracy, the rule of law, good governance, human rights, and social justice. Although CPLP is still a young organization, its performance in terms of the promotion and diffusion of the Portuguese language, political and diplomatic consultation, and cooperation in all domains, including education, health, youth and sport, defense, justice, food and nutrition security, and digital governance, among others, is significant. As a result, CPLP has been gaining international recognition, which can be measured by the growing number of countries that have expressed their interest in becoming associated observers. From only three observers in 2014, CPLP now has 19, and this figure is set to pass 30 by the next CPLP Summit in 2021.

How does the CPLP seek to remain relevant today?
As with all international organizations, CPLP's challenge is to respond adequately to the needs and demands posed by its member states and their citizens. I will give two very concrete examples. Firstly, CPLP is currently developing a domain that was not originally among its central objectives: economic and business cooperation. Over the years, this domain has been recognized as crucial for deepening the relationships between CPLP member states, as it contributes to job creation, advancement of technology, economic progress, and the well-being of citizens. My second example is the issue of mobility. Since 2002, with the Brasilia Agreements, we defined the goal of facilitating the movement of citizens across CPLP member states. The current Cape Verdean presidency of CPLP has made significant progress in negotiating a draft mobility agreement, which we expect to conclude and approve at the forthcoming Summit of Heads of State and Government in July 2021. The completion of this agreement will contribute to the public recognition of CPLP's added value and of its constant capacity to adapt and evolve in accordance with the wishes and needs of its member states and citizens. Finally, in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, CPLP was forced to redefine priorities and either postpone or hold several events and meetings virtually. We are determined to continue to be relevant and active, using the mechanisms and networks of cooperation and information sharing that we have in place to redefine our own priorities.

How does CPLP support Mozambique?
Mozambique is a founding member of CPLP and remains extremely committed to all the organization's activities and initiatives. It has presided over the organization twice, from 2000 to 2002 and from 2012 to 2014. CPLP has been following the evolution of the Mozambican democratic process, namely by sending electoral observation missions to monitor electoral processes in the country. In March 2019, in the face of the devastation caused by cyclones Idai and Kenneth, CPLP made the unprecedented decision to create an emergency fund, quickly mobilizing around EUR1.5 million in contributions from member states, CPLP associated observers, civil society entities, and individuals. It was an exceptional demonstration of solidarity, empathy, and community. CPLP fully respects and promotes the priorities set by the national authorities, thus promoting aspects such as national appropriation and capacity building. From its outset, the CPLP Strategy of Food and Nutrition Security benefited from the strong impetus of the Mozambican rotating presidency of CPLP in 2012-2014. This strategy is currently recognized internationally as an example of good practices in the field of capacity building and ownership by its beneficiaries.