"Everything in my power to build better bridges between Portugal and Brazil in all areas, I will do," Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said.
Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said on Sunday that he intended to do everything in his power to “build better bridges” between the country and Brazil, its largest former colony, noting that “there is no shortage of challenges” to be overcome in improving their bilateral relationship.
“Everything in my power to build better bridges between Portugal and Brazil in all areas, I will do,” he said. “There is a concern to go further in cooperation and we feel that Brazil is on a wave of, together, looking at the challenges of the future.”
The president was speaking to journalists late on Sunday afternoon at Portugal’s embassy in Brasilia, ahead of a meeting scheduled with his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, at the latter’s Alvorada Palace.
The meeting is the final point on the agenda of de Sousa’s four-day visit to Brazil, which was timed for him to attend the reinauguration in São Paulo of the Portuguese Language Museum, which had been closed since 2015 due to a devastating fire.
“There is a whole Brazilian community in Portugal that grows every day and that is a huge challenge for both countries and there is a community of Portuguese” in Brazil that “is another challenge,” the president said, citing a vast range of topics, ranging from the economy to health cooperation, to be addressed during his meeting with Bolsonaro.
“Our expectation is that there will be a Brazilian delegation that will allow us to address diversified areas,” he said.
De Sousa also highlighted next year’s commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Brazil’s independence, which Portugal has been invited to take part in.
Also in 2022, Portugal is to be the guest country at the São Paulo Book Biennial, Brazil’s biggest fair for the publishing trade.
De Sousa was to be received by Bolsonaro after meeting several former presidents of Brazil over the weekend: Michel Temer, Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
The meeting with Lula da Silva, at the residence of Portugal’s consul in São Paulo, caused some unease in the local Portuguese community. Some of its members, who requested anonymity, told Lusa that they regretted the choice of an official location for the meeting, and even the fact that he met at all with the former Brazilian president, given his involvement in ongoing legal cases.
De Sousa, for his part, said that “this quick” trip showed that this is “the best moment” for Portugal’s relations with Brazil, which “regardless of different sensibilities, as a whole embraces Portugal.”
In this context, he explained that it was “very useful” to have met with former heads of state and to have been able to “hear and register” what they think about relations between Portugal and Brazil, between Mercosur and the European Union, and the role of Portugal and Brazil in the Community of Portuguese-language Countries (CPLP).
“It is very important when you have the opportunity to have these interlocutors, in addition to the official interlocutors,” he stressed.
During his visit, de Sousa has also had the opportunity to hear the concerns of the Portuguese community in Brazil which, in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, mainly relate to the non-recognition in the EU of some vaccines administered in Brazil. He said that he had been able to assure them that negotiations are underway on an agreement for the mutual recognition of the two countries’ vaccination programmes.
On Sunday, at a meeting with members of the Portuguese community in Brasilia, de Sousa stressed the role of Portuguese nationals in strengthening relations between the two countries. He also promised to visit Brazil again next year.