A new phase in relations with South Africa has begun after a certain distance.

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The President of the Republic said yesterday that his visit to South Africa represented “the opening of a new phase” in bilateral relations, after “a certain distance or misunderstanding”.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was speaking at a meeting with Portuguese emigrants at Pretoria’s Portuguese Community Association, the last stop on the Portugal Day commemorations in South Africa, which began in Cape Town on Monday and passed through Johannesburg.

The Head of State stressed the importance of his meeting with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accepted his invitation to visit Portugal next year, as part of a state visit on Tuesday, right in the middle of the June 10 commemorations program.

“President Ramaphosa will visit Portugal in March. And this visit was important because there was a certain distance or lack of understanding between the two countries”, he said, wondering “how this was possible, with a Portuguese community as large as South Africa’s”.

“Because it was the opening of a new phase”, he felt.

According to Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, in addition to defense, on which a bilateral agreement was signed on Tuesday, “there are so many things that can move forward, in the economy, finance, investment, tourism, education, science and technology.

“And suddenly, South Africa understood what was obvious to them: what we could achieve by working together, both of us together, bilaterally”, he added.

President Sarkozy felt it was important to “prepare this work now, so that in March, when President Ramaphosa visits Portugal, this work will be underway and it will be possible to take the collaboration between the two countries even further”.

The Head of State ended his speech by saying to the Portuguese and descendants of the Portuguese: “You will have a future in this land, and there will be future relations between the two countries, and South Africa’s role will be a priority for Portugal, as it is for Angola or Mozambique”.

“But for South Africa too, it will be more obvious that Portugal is a priority in Europe. It can have an easier relationship with us – in which the Portuguese community has a role to play – than with other countries with which it has less affinity, however sympathetic our European partners may be”, he declared, adding: “This is obvious realism.

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