It was with great sadness that the EMCDDA learned today of the passing of His Excellency Dr Jorge Sampaio, former President of the Portuguese Republic.
Dr Jorge Sampaio was a highly-esteemed friend of the EMCDDA. He supported the work of the agency for over two decades, particularly in the early days, providing a symbolic, but invaluable, contribution to its development and that of the European drug information system it manages. He will also be remembered for his commitment to tackling the drugs problem and his contribution to shaping drug policy in Portugal and internationally.
In the period 1997–2005, Dr Sampaio visited the EMCDDA four times and participated in a number of EMCDDA-related activities:
- November 1997 — presiding over the launch of the 1997 Annual Report on the State of the Drugs Problem in the European Union;
- October 1998 — conceiving and promoting the Euro-Ibero American Seminar on ‘Cooperation between the European Union and Latin America in the field of drugs’, held in Oporto with the support of the Portuguese Government, the European Commission and the EMCDDA;
- February 1999 — visiting the EMCDDA with the President of France, His Excellency Jacques Chirac;
- November 1999 — visiting the EMCDDA with King Albert II of the Belgians and Queen Paola, accompanied by the First Lady of Portugal; and
- December 2005 — visiting the EMCDDA for an insight into the latest trends and developments in the drug situation in Europe, and in Portugal in particular.
Dr Sampaio also regularly attended diplomatic receptions at the EMCDDA to mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on 26 June.
President Sampaio often praised the work of the EMCDDA in offering sound scientific bases to formulate drug policies in the EU, moving away from responses based on ideology to those based on facts. His comment in 2005, ‘We need to know more to make better decisions’, still rings true today.
The EMCDDA Director and staff will observe a minute of silence today in Dr Sampaio’s memory.
Dr Jorge Sampaio will be greatly missed at the EMCDDA and the Director and staff send their condolences to his wife, former First Lady Maria José Ritta, his family and friends.