The president of Portugal said on Sunday, on the subject of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union, that Portugal does not create expectations that could turn into disappointments and that preparation on both sides was necessary for it to materialise.
“I have also said this in public statements. We don’t do what others might do – I haven’t materialised – which is to create expectations and then create disappointments,” he said in Sao Tome and Príncipe, at a joint press conference with the prime minister, also attended by the foreign minister.
“There’s nothing worse in war than creating illusions,” he said.
At the end of the 14th summit of the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP), which took place on Sunday, the head of state was asked about a possible disagreement with the government over Portugal’s position on Ukraine’s accession to the European Union.
The president, who was recently in Ukraine, said that he wanted to publicly convey, in front of the Ukrainian president, “that, as far as the position of principle is concerned”, Portugal is in favour of accession.
“We think it’s important for Ukraine and for Europe that it joins,” he emphasised, pointing out that “just as this implies preparation on the part of Ukraine, which has already begun but will still take time until the process is completed, it also implies preparation on the part of the European Union because a European Union with 27 is completely different from a European Union with many more member states”.
The president of Portugal said that “this has been made clear” and that “one of the assets” of the relationship between the two countries is “total clarity”.
“They know what they can count on from the Portuguese on all dossiers,” he emphasised, pointing out that Portugal “promises support, gives support, what it can’t promise, it doesn’t give” and, in these cases, the Ukrainian authorities “don’t even ask because they know it’s not possible”.Pointing out that “one of Ukraine’s requests is, recognising the Portuguese experience, for Portugal to help” in preparing for accession, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted that the government has made itself available to give this support and that “recognising that it is a job to be done, there is nothing better than, operating so many and so complex dossiers, having someone who can support in this”.
On Ukraine, the president of Portugal said that there was no “double game” in Portugal’s position on Ukraine’s European integration, which is one of support, and indicated that “there is no one above the president who can say anything different”.
In front of Volodymyr Zelensky, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa emphasised that Ukraine’s future will be “in the European Union and in NATO”.
With regard to Crimea, since the “international fixing of the borders” in 1991, “there have been, I don’t know how many governments, and it really is a peaceful issue in terms of the international question and the Portuguese position”.
Also, in Ukraine, the Portuguese head of state pointed out that Portugal “has experience” in international missions in Africa and can monitor the activities of “non-African” groups operating there.
Today, he was asked how this could be achieved and whether it could also include Wagner, the main mercenary group operating in Africa, in countries such as Mali or the Central African Republic (CAR).
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa highlighted the “fundamental role of deployed national forces in stabilising the political situation, with consequences for economic, social and humanitarian stabilisation in African countries”.
“We usually talk about the CAR, [but] to be fair, there are other interventions, one of which is right next door, in Mali,” he emphasised, pointing out that the Portuguese Armed Forces act “not only within the framework of the United Nations but also of the European Union”.
The head of state said that Portugal had responded to calls for “willingness to study a way for Portugal to contribute to stabilisation in the Sahel region”.
“The rest is the problem of it being more or less public and notorious that in these areas there are various actors and protagonists and, naturally, we are always attentive to what is happening with these protagonists,” he said.
Marcelo also said that “the government’s role in conducting foreign policy and defence policy is not only in Portugal’s interest” but also in the United Nations and the European Union, depending on the scope of the missions.