‘Beginning Of Enhanced Friendship With Azores’

May 20, 2016

Today [May 20] in the House of Assembly, Premier Michael Dunkley provided an overview of his visit to the Azores and the signing of the MOU, saying it is “is just the beginning of an enhanced friendship with the Azores.”

The Premier was accompanied to the Azores by Attorney-General Trevor Moniz, Secretary to the Cabinet Dr. Derrick Binns and UK Representative Ms Kimberley Durrant.

The Premier said, “An official invitation was extended by President Vasco Alves Cordeiro to visit the Azores during a visit last June of a delegation of the Azores Government to Bermuda.

“At our meeting in Bermuda, the Azores Government invited us to consider and sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the historic and cultural ties that unite Bermuda and the Azores.

Slideshow of the Bermuda delegation’s visit to the Azores:

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“In 1849 Portuguese immigrants first arrived on Bermuda’s shores from Madeira and the Azores. Since that time the Portuguese community has played a significant role towards the economic, political and social advancement of Bermuda,” the Premier continued.

“The Azores is a strong viable partner to Bermuda and a Memorandum of Understanding will only strengthen that special relationship between both our communities.

“The Memorandum of Understanding, which I am pleased to lay before this House today, sets a framework for promoting Cooperation and mutual understanding between Bermuda and the Azores; and the encouragement of closer ties between our peoples, institutions and public and private entities.

The Premier said the Memorandum will enable our Governments to develop cooperation in the areas of:

  • 1. Culture, history and popular traditions;
  • 2. Sea, conservation of marine and land environments and sustainable development [Noting the Azores are a signatory to the Hamilton Declaration on the Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea];
  • 3. Relations between training, research and teaching institutions and exchanges of students, teachers and researchers;
  • 4. Community associations, especially in the culture and social areas

Premier Dunkley said, “Arriving in Ponta Delgada we were surprised and thrilled to be greeted at the airport by Bermudians of Portuguese descent, carrying a Bermuda Flag. Their presence demonstrated the sentimental connections between our two countries and confirmed the importance that the Azoreans placed on our visit.

“You would be keen to know that I was given the opportunity to pay a courtesy visit to the President of the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Azores.

“There are now opportunities for partnerships between our Parliament and that of the Autonomous Region of the Azores. Such a relationship with a Parliament within Europe can only enhance Bermuda’s visibility in the European Union.

“We could not help but notice that Azorean Airlines has a direct flight between the Azores and San Francisco. Mr. Speaker, just imagine if en route to San Francisco that flight stopped over in Bermuda.

“Many Bermudians and persons with Azorean connections would undoubtedly take advantage of a direct route between our islands. This is an opportunity that we will pursue with vigour.

“This is just the beginning of an enhanced friendship with the Azores. We have much in common and there are many areas we can share our areas of expertise.”

The Premier’s full statement follows below:

Mr. Speaker, This morning I am pleased to share with this Honourable House details of the successful historic visit to the Autonomous Region of Azores.

I was accompanied to the Azores by the Hon. Trevor G. Moniz, Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dr. Derrick Binns, Secretary to the Cabinet and Ms Kimberley Durrant, UK Representative.

An official invitation was extended by President Vasco Alves Cordeiro to visit the Azores during a visit last June of a delegation of the Azores Government to Bermuda. At our meeting in Bermuda, the Azores Government invited us to consider and sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the historic and cultural ties that unite Bermuda and the Azores.

Mr. Speaker In 1849 Portuguese immigrants first arrived on Bermuda’s shores from Madeira and the Azores. Since that time the Portuguese community has played a significant role towards the economic, political and social advancement of Bermuda.

The Azores is a strong viable partner to Bermuda and a Memorandum of Understanding will only strengthen that special relationship between both our communities.

Mr. Speaker The Memorandum of Understanding, which I am pleased to lay before this House today, sets a framework for promoting:

1. Cooperation and mutual understanding between Bermuda and the Azores; and

2. The encouragement of closer ties between our peoples, institutions and public and private entities.

The Memorandum will enable our Governments to develop cooperation in the areas of:

1. Culture, history and popular traditions;

2. Sea, conservation of marine and land environments and sustainable development [Noting the Azores are a signatory to the Hamilton Declaration on the Collaboration for the Conservation of the Sargasso Sea];

3. Relations between training, research and teaching institutions and exchanges of students, teachers and researchers;

4. Community associations, especially in the culture and social areas

Mr. Speaker, President Vasco Cordeiro, his Government officials and the people of the Azores welcomed the Bermuda delegation warmly. Their hospitality and attention to detail in the organization of our visit should be applauded.

Arriving in Ponta Delgada we were surprised and thrilled to be greeted at the airport by Bermudians of Portuguese descent, carrying a Bermuda Flag. Their presence demonstrated the sentimental connections between our two countries and confirmed the importance that the Azoreans placed on our visit.

Mr. Speaker, 1976 marked a significant year for the enhancement of the Azores’constitutional relationship with Portugal. A redefined constitution provided for an Autonomous Region with full political and administrative powers devolved to the Azorean Government. This paved the way for the Azores to establish economic and sustainable advancement with global partners. The relationship between the Azores and Portugal bears some similarity with our own relationship with the United Kingdom. In addition, as the Azores are an Outermost Region of the European Union and Bermuda is a signatory to the Overseas Association Decision, we can agree to equally explore areas of tourism, trade, foreign investment, and related programs within the European Union.

You would be keen to know that I was given the opportunity to pay a courtesy visit to the President of the Legislative Assembly of the Autonomous Region of Azores. There are now opportunities for partnerships between our Parliament and that of the Autonomous Region of the Azores. Such a relationship with a Parliament within Europe can only enhance Bermuda’s visibility in the European Union.

Mr. Speaker Agriculture is a fundamental part of the Azorean economy and we visited a number of agriculture businesses during the visit. One of these businesses was a tea plantation, which has been in operation since 1883 and takes pride as the only tea plantation in Europe. We had the pleasure to visit a dairy farm where it was of interest to note the owner maintains tourist accommodation on the farm.

In 2004 UNESCO recognized the Culture Landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard as a World Heritage Site, which we also had the opportunity to visit.

We were moved by a memorial to the eruption of Capelinhos Volcano, which occurred between 1957 – 1958 and that forced the evacuation of a number of villages on Faial Island. The volcanic eruption transformed the entire landscape of the portion of the island. To preserve the memory of event and its impact on the Azorean people, an Interpretive Centre was constructed to mark this significant moment in history. The Centre is the world’s only scientific guide to an underwater volcanic eruption, and not only serves as a memorial but also contributes to the economic development of Faial Island through tourism.

Mr. Speaker As an island community, the Azores shares an interest in maintaining the islands’ sustainability. One key component of this is the provision of power. Unlike Bermuda, the Azores have access to sustainable, clean geothermal power. Included in our visits was a tour of the Vermelho Geothermal Power Station. Through a hot water reservoir under one of the many active volcanoes, heat exchange is utilised to produce electricity, which will enable the Azores to achieve 60% of its power from renewable sources.

The Azores has developed highly advanced Research Centres such as the Department of Oceanography and Fisheries of the University of Azores. We immediately were able to identify parallels with Bermuda institutions such as BIOS and acknowledged that partnerships between marine researchers had already been established. Indeed, the Director of the Department was directly involved in our own Sargasso Sea Commission.

One of the developments that inspired us was a visit to the Sao Miguel Science and Technology Park. The Technology Park allows emerging businesses to work in a capacitybuilding environment with other like-minded companies and to be provided with the necessary tools for creativity. Some of the entrepreneurs I met were Connect All a start up company developing smart systems for hospitals; Cereal Games looked at measures to develop intellectually and progressively challenging games for mobile phones.

A Technology Park such as this would benefit Bermuda and something that we should aspire to implement. Innovation has the ability to enhance our sustainable development and to provide economic diversification, thereby further enhancing our global competiveness.

Mr. Speaker, The Portuguese community would know of the festival of Senhor Santo Cristo des Milagres [Lord Holy Christ of Miracles], which attracts hundreds of Azorean emigrants to the island of Sao Miguel on the fifth Sunday after Easter. Once a year the image is seen moving from the lower chancel to the high altar of the Holy Shrine in a procession that proceeds in front of thousands of people. It was important that we paid our respects to the image following the festival to symbolize the admiration and respect Bermuda has for the Azorean culture and its influence on our own culture.

Mr. Speaker A highlight of our visit was the State Dinner hosted by President Vasco Alves Cordeiro at the Palacio de Santana in our honour. The occasion provided the Bermuda delegation with an opportunity to interact with the wider Azorean community in business, Government and political affairs. I was pleased to have met Mayors of several Municipalities within the Azores and to learn of their personal connections to Bermuda.

Mr. Speaker We could not help but notice that Azorean Airlines has a direct flight between the Azores and San Francisco. Mr. Speaker, just imagine if en route to San Francisco that flight stopped over in Bermuda. Many Bermudians and persons with Azorean connections would undoubtedly take advantage of a direct route between our islands. This is an opportunity that we will pursue with vigour.

Mr. Speaker This is just the beginning of an enhanced friendship with the Azores. We have much in common and there are many areas we can share our areas of expertise.

Mr. Speaker While overseas I had the privilege of participating in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series events in New York. With the assistance of our partners, ACBDA, the America’s Cup Event Authority and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, we were able to conduct a number of meetings designed to enhance tourism opportunities for Bermuda.

Bermuda had a remarkable presence in New York, and the hundreds of thousands of people that lined the shore line along New York Harbour were exposed to a host of messages and activities promoting Bermuda.

We conducted interviews within the America’s Cup Media Centre and at other locations as part of our continual efforts to revitalize interest in Bermuda as a tourism and financial services destination. One aspect of keen interest to the media is the potential for Bermuda to remake itself as a Super Yacht destination. The America’s Cup finals in 2017 provides an excellent opportunity to showcase all that we have to offer to the owners and managers of Super Yachts.

Dr. Gibbons, who at the time was the Acting Minister of Tourism Development and Transport, and I were privileged to participate in the Prize Giving Ceremony at the conclusion of the New York series. Dr. Gibbons presented the medals to the runners up, while I was afforded the honour of presenting the Trophy to the winners, Emirates Team New Zealand. This offered us a platform to remind the world that the entire series of races in locations across the globe all serve as the Race to Bermuda, the hosts of the 2017 America’s Cup.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker

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Comments (23)

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  1. watching says:

    I have no issue with strengthening ties with Azores as many Bermudian residents do share much culture and history emanating from the Azores.

    I just wonder if those that support this were just as supportive of the Caribbean links that have been fostered in the past.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      Why wouldn’t they have been ?

      • PBanks says:

        I think that what watching is getting at is that when Bermuda became an associate member of Caricom, and when Bermuda established links with UWI, there was a significant backlash from some people here and in other forums.

        To be fair, becoming part of CARICOM is quite different than signing a MOU with the Azores.

        I’m intrigued by the Technology Park piece of the Premier’s statement. Could that happen in Bermuda?

        • LiarLiar says:

          We became an associate member in 2002/3. Bernews wasn’t around then so there was no backlash in this forum.

          I Googled t and still can’t find this ‘significant backlash’ as you claim. I remember in some quarters there were concerns that joining Caricom would mean Bermuda would have to comply with the free movement of labor and foreigners would take jobs from locals.

          While the technology Park piece does sound interesting I just don’t see how it can be achieved in Bermuda due to the our high labor and importation costs.

    • why not says:

      Of course that shoud happen.

      Are there direct economic benefits that making connections to the Caribbean brings to Bermuda.

      I remember the Coporation of Hamillton “pairing” with a city in Jamaica and noting that it would have a tourism benefit or some spin—nothing was ever heard of it again–Hamilton Bermuda is the home to the 3rd largest specialty insurance market in the world–I suppose that got kinda overlooked in suitable pairings—-oops!!!

    • But dont have F!@#’s for African Bermudians!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Um got to much brains says:

        What about the diaspora trail .

      • mj says:

        @onion juice–because WE ARE NOT AFRICAN! The last will be the first though and who exactly is our leader as a group of original indiginent Bermudians who are not African although came through that passage many moons ago, we are a unique group of people that the rest of the world would just as well ignore rather than acknowledge the contributions of, because there is still an OUTSTANDING BILL that Shall be paid eventually!

      • SUNFISH says:

        And how much did your African PLP have for African Bermudians when they runied this Island?

      • Zevon says:

        It was your PLP that threw them out of work and ruined the value of their houses.

  2. frank says:

    since another large portion of Bermuda’s population come have ties to the Caribbean it would be good to see the government make some connections there also just saying

    • Toodle-oo says:

      We’re already an associate member of Caricom , eh ?

  3. JohnBoy says:

    Do they bring bring some Malasadas??

    • JohnBoy says:

      Should read: Did they bring back some Malasadas? I blame Trump :-(

  4. Terry says:

    MOU?
    I had to read it twice.
    Thought the meeting was at MAWI.

    Not far off.

  5. Auntie Zuzu Bouche says:

    I concur with you @watching and @frank that steps should be taken to strengthen ties with our Caribbean counterparts. This can be completed by either starting with Caricom and really benefiting from this connection and/ or with particular countries that we know Bermudians come from like St. Kitts. There are MANY Bermudians who are returning to St. Kitts (myself included) to discover their connections and ancestral ties and it would be in the best interests of those locals (like our Azoreans brothers and sisters) for there to be a connection of sorts or a similar MOU. Selah!

    • mixitup says:

      5 dislikes already…. Who would object to a MOU ties to the Caribbean countries most connected to Bermuda ….. Oh right, never mind..

    • mj says:

      the Azoreans are not our brother and sister.. they are from a different mother and father.. please we do not need to be confused about who we claim and who actually is our blood..

  6. reddamtibi says:

    I think steps should be taken to strengthen ties with our countrymen here at home first but I know nothing it seems…

  7. The Premier should continue his actions and make ties with some African nations. And while he is at it, form closer ties with Cuba .While we have a MOU with Cuba, we need to work more on the relationship. We could learn a lot from Cuba. African financing should be encouraged. We need more banks in Bermuda. Mr.Premier, you must break up the monopoly that presently exist .

  8. Cpt says:

    Perhaps a good step would be to teach Portuguese in schools here. It is more difficult than Spanish – easier to learn Spanish if you speak Portuguese than learn Portuguese if you speak Spanish. Brazil will be an economic powerhouse in 20 yrs, despite current issues. A good opportunity to build on resources and cultural richness that we already have.

    • Are you kidding me? says:

      No desrespect ,but wasn’t some sort of agreement sign back in early 80s where Portuguese was to be taught at our schools when Mr,Dale Buttler was headmaster at St,Georges secondary school? What happen then? In the other hand it’s interesting to know that Sata airlines as a flight from San Francisco to Ponta Delgada and here we are since 1849 and still no direct flight between Bermuda and Azores and tha is only a 3 hour flight , the last direct flight that we had and I guess it was an experimental was back in 1989 that was the second and last ,I really don’t see how it wouldn’t be profitable having a direct flight to and from Azores and Bermuda

  9. Coffee says:

    Gonna make the rounds to the Philippines next .

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