Marcelo intends to decorate Zelensky in person

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President reiterated willingness to go to Kiev “as soon as it is possible”.
The President of the Republic announced today that he intends to personally award the Grand Cordon of the Order of Liberty to his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, and reiterated his willingness to travel to Kiev “as soon as possible.

“I intend to deliver [the decoration] personally when I go to Ukraine. This is what I have done with heads of state and with other decorated with this order and other orders: it is, as far as possible, on the first occasion, to deliver it to them,” said Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The head of state was speaking to journalists in the Royal Riding Arena, in Lisbon, shortly after receiving the Joint Task Force (FOCON) that was on a mission to Turkey.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa underlined that when he decided to decorate the former German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Grande-Colar of the Ordem do Infante D. Henrique, he also only gave her this decoration “some time later”.

“Chancellor Merkel was unable – for reasons of German political life and then her personal life – to go to Portugal and I didn’t have the opportunity to go to Germany. She received it some time later. So will President Zelensky,” he said.

Asked if it makes sense for Portugal to be officially represented in Ukraine in the near future, whether through the Prime Minister or the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa replied: “I don’t know, I spoke to the Prime Minister to find out exactly what he thinks.

“I still intend [to go to Ukraine], as soon as it is possible, and we will finally have a new ambassador of Ukraine in Portugal,” he stressed.

Marcelo recalled that Portugal had “many months” without the Ukrainian ambassador in Portugal, stressing that the previous diplomat, Inna Ohnivets, “was replaced, and stayed for a while, but basically in a transitory position.

“A [new] ambassador is arriving, and therefore this will make it possible to schedule for the time when Ukraine sees fit a visit of mine to Ukraine,” he said.

The President of the Republic said that “the majority of the Portuguese” agrees with the decoration to Zelensky, but acknowledged that “there are those who disagree and are hurt by the fact”, namely “sectors that are linked to the 25th of April” and some Captains of April.

Faced with these negative reactions, Marcelo justified the decision to award the Ukrainian head of state, pointing out that all the personalities decorated with the Grand Cordon of the Order of Freedom have one thing in common: “they have played a fundamental role in the defense of freedom.

“There are those who were decorated for a long time on the side of the dictatorship – they were decorated for the dictatorship – and then were spokespersons for freedom, and were decorated for that. There were those who made a gesture for freedom and then, later on, had a very complex journey, with trials, convictions, and amnesties, but were decorated for that moment of freedom,” he pointed out.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa specifically addressed the case of the Captains of April, who were decorated for having been in a “unique moment, redeeming freedom”. He recalled, however, that there are those who criticize his decision to decorate them, “on the left and on the right,” despite the “diverse gestures” they had before or after April 25th, 1974.

About the case of the President of Ukraine, Marcelo considered that “it’s very simple”: “Let’s not discuss what he was before he became President, how he governed as President, some people like it, some people don’t like it.

“It is a fact that for a year he has been fighting for the freedom of his people. ‘Ah, but it’s not just for the freedom of the people, there are strategic reasons, there are other reasons and so on’… Certainly, now that he is fighting for the freedom of the Ukrainian people, he is fighting,” he stressed.

According to the President of the Republic, “this persistent struggle, determined over the course of a year, deserves, like other gestures in defense of freedom at very specific or longer times, this decoration.

Last Wednesday, in a note posted on the Presidency website, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa announced the decoration of the President of Ukraine, admitting that he had anticipated the announcement following a “parliamentary initiative on this matter.

“The President of the Republic intended to announce on the 24th of this month, the date one year after Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the decoration of President Zelensky. Taking into account the parliamentary initiative on this matter, he hereby announces that he has decided to award the President of Ukraine the Grand Cordon of the Order of Freedom,” the note could be read.

According to Público’s edition of that day, the PAN intended to mark the first year of the war with a proposal to decorate Zelensky, which led the Portuguese head of state to bring forward the announcement.

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