It has been exactly 240 years since the official establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two states in 1779.
Bilateral ties between Moscow and Lisbon have a long history. Last year we were celebrating an emblematic anniversary for our two countries. It has been exactly 240 years since the official establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two states in 1779. This step marked the beginning of the new qualitative level of relations which were always characterized by sympathy, friendship and mutual respect.
Russian and Portuguese embassies were making special efforts to promote each one’s culture and art among local public and organized many remarkable initiatives to celebrate our relations’ history.
Today both countries are prepared to contribute for the further strengthening of our relations in all areas. The political dialogue has recently gained a new impulse. Over the past years, we had two rounds of talks between our ministers for foreign affairs, and our presidents met in Moscow in 2018 (and also had a contact in Beijing in 2019). The memorandum of understanding on political consultations signed in November 2018 formed the basis of a frank and mutually beneficial exchange of views between our diplomacies.
It is important to note that Russia and Portugal have had a great tradition of cooperation in various fields including trade and commerce, banking interaction and justice, culture, science and sports. Despite the turbulent situation in the international scene, our commodity turnover, according to the Russian statistics, has reached $1.3 billion by the end of the year 2019. At the same time, the Russian Government is considering different options to diversify and balance our mutual commerce. That is one of the reasons why our country was represented at the past two Web Summits in Lisbon by more than 300 companies, many of which work in with artificial intelligence, data processing, energy, green technologies, healthcare, and pharmaceutics. On the margins of the conference, a traditional Russian-Portuguese Business Forum called “New Opportunities and Challenges in Innovations” was held.
Within the framework of the 4th Russian Culture Week in the city of Porto the 1st Russian-Portuguese economic forum was held. The delegation from the city of St. Petersburg which included PJSC “Power Machines”, the group of companies “Rakurs”, “Fashion Weeks” Association and Tretyakov Foundation attended the event.
In 2019, several Russian business missions visited Portugal: delegation of the Republic of Crimea led by the head of the “Interfin” wine company participated in “Portugal Exportador”; delegation of woodworking companies of the region of Arkhangelsk participated “Concreta 2019” exhibition in the city of Porto; delegation of Russian construction building, winery and retail companies from Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Republic of Tatarstan interacted with Portuguese counterparts through bilateral business mission programs of the Portuguese Industrial Association.
On May 9, 2019 the first Portuguese-Russian Chamber of Commerce was formed. It testifies the maturity of our business communities that at one moment felt the need to establish a specialized organism for promoting deeper and more fruitful cooperation not only between the two states but also in the third countries’ markets – Portuguese language countries or the Eurasian Economic Union.
The year 2020 shall be important for the further tightening of the Russian-Portuguese relations in political, diplomatic, economic and cultural fields. It is important to note that in general terms this year marks the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory over the Nazi regime, as well as the establishment of the United Nations. It is imperative that we do our best, together with foreign partners, to promote the historic truth, restraining the repetition of tragedies that influenced the lives of many generations of people.
The today’s pandemic reality reveals once again the vital necessity of construction and promotion of human cooperation, without politicization, based on mutual benefit, solidarity, respect and rights equality. Besides, this is just the case of Russian-Portuguese ties. In March and May, when the borders of the EU were shut and the passenger air traffic cancelled, about 1500 Russian tourist stuck in Portugal. Lisbon reacted immediately and positively to our request for five humanitarian flights for the purpose of repatriation. We really appreciate this.
As to us, we had an opportunity to pay back to our Portuguese friends. We urgently authorized the TAP flights over the Russian territory that were bringing medical equipment, including ventilators, from China.
And of course, our scientific institutions are ready for the cooperation with the Portuguese partners for the purpose of combating the COVID-19 and elaborating the necessary vaccine.
I have no doubt that we are now entering the new decade that will be even more fruitful and beneficial for the strengthening of the friendship ties between the people of Russia and Portugal.