Portugal Awaits Putin

His Excellency President Vladimir Putin visits Portugal on Thursday. On the agenda will be the question of Kaliningrad, the peace process in Angola, bilateral trading agreements, enlargement of the European Union and questions related with the OSCE, over which Portugal presides.

President Putin declared in an interview to the Jornal de Notнcias journalist in Moscow that “We are counting on the understanding of the Portuguese leadership in relation to our preoccupations”. It is in this spirit that his visit begins on Thursday.

At the top of the agenda will be the question of Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea surrounded by Poland and Lithuania, soon to become EU members, making the city and the surrounding area an island in the middle of the European Union. The main issue here is the question of how Russian citizens will transit between Kaliningrad and the rest of the Russian Federation and whether the overland transit passes issued will enable citizens to enter only Poland and Lithuania or from there, to the other EU states. The resolution of this question is important, since the EU is Russia’s main trading partner and Russia supplies the EU with a substantial part of its energy.

Equally important is the question of bilateral trade which in international terms, is practically at level zero, with a strong deficit for Portugal. In the last five years, Portugal has invested 593,000 Euros in Russia, while Russian investment in Portugal has amounted to only 50,000 Euros in the same period. President Putin has declared that trading relations have already begun and that from now on, it is a question of both sides facilitating business deals which will see the balance increase.

Regarding Angola, Russia is part of the troika of nations, along with the USA, observing the peace process. The integration of UNITA forces into Angolan society and the question of UN Security Council sanctions on UNITA will be discussed.

Finally, as Portugal holds the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, matters regarding international terrorism and the security of frontiers will also be on the agenda for discussion.

The Portuguese media are paying great attention to this visit, described as “an Event, with a capital E” by a spokesperson in the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and hailed by the press as a visit by a world political heavyweight which gives prestige to Portugal.

In the name of all those who welcome His Excellency President Vladimir Putin, welcome, or Bem vindo, Senhor Presidente!


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