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Lisbon, 9 October 2018
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First of all, it has really been a pleasure to be back to Lisbon, having excellent meetings with my good friend Augusto [Santos Silva, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal], but also with the Prime Minister [of Portugal, António Costa] and with the Defense Minister [of Portugal, José Alberto Azeredo Lopes].
We indeed covered all different aspects of our Common Foreign and Security Policy. Let me say that the European Union appreciates enormously the contribution that Portugal is giving to our common European work in the world, as, I would say, one of the Member States that is really a pillar of our common positions: with an active presence in the world, on the global scene, in our region, but also in relation with our strategic partners in the world.
It has been for me, first and foremost, an opportunity to discuss the work we can do together in relation with Latin America and Africa, but also elsewhere.
On Venezuela in particular, as you said Augusto [Santos Silva], we will have on Monday a Foreign Affairs Council, where I will put some ideas on the table on how the European Union, with the Member States, can help re-open the way for a political dialogue in the country. Having the possibility of discussing this with you today, with the Prime Minister [of Portugal] yesterday, and also with the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell yesterday in Barcelona, is an excellent preparation for this discussion to be taken on Monday.
We all have the same concerns; we all feel a sense of urgency in trying to re-open a political perspective for the country and we will make the best possible use of the deep understanding and knowledge that Portugal has of that country, also due to the presence of a large community of double nationals in the country.
Obviously, Africa - as you said - is also a pillar of our common work. The European Union has built in this last couple of years a true political partnership of equals with the African continent.
This has not always been the case in our approach and I am proud that this mandate, this Commission, has put relations with Africa on a completely different level. Our exchanges with the African Union and with the single countries in Africa, all of Africa, from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, to the East, West and South of Africa, are key for us - not only in terms of humanitarian aid or development assistance, but also in terms of political cooperation.
This is exactly what we have discussed and this is something that we will continue to pursue together in a very strong manner.
This goes beyond the work we do on migration. It is indeed a partnership based on economic investments, on opportunities for young people and women, on governance and on the stability and the prosperity of our two continents that are the closest ones geographically - from here, this is very clearly seen.
Obviously, we also covered many other issues that are priorities for our Common Foreign and Security Policy. Let me conclude by saying that I really, really appreciate not only the friendship that I feel here but also the constant, truly committed European contribution that Portugal gives to our work. I often say that Europe is what you make of it - and I think that Portugal has this very clearly in its DNA. I see here the determination of making our European Union a successful story and this is only possible with the contribution of governments as the one you represent, so thank you very much, obrigado.
What do you expect from Portugal in terms of receiving more migrants? Portugal just received 27 Somali migrants. Do you expect Portugal to continue this role of solidarity with the other EU Members in terms of migration?
First of all, let me thank Portugal, the authorities, the people, for the solidarity it has shown so far. The European Union functions to the extent to which the Member States and the citizens of the European Union understand that we share a common destiny and we share some responsibilities. This also requires sharing the burdens from time to time.
I would not enter into discussions related to the mechanisms that relate to internal solidarity-sharing. I can say that I enormously appreciate the contribution that Portugal is already giving and I am sure will continue to give to our external work on migration. That is mainly, first of all, a presence at sea with [EUNAVFOR Med] Operation Sophia, the work we are doing with Libya, with the Sahel, to strengthen their own capacity to manage – in a humane way, respectful of human rights – the migratory flows in cooperation with the UNHCR [United Nations Refugee Agency] and the IOM [International Organisation for Migration] to make it sustainable and to make it respectful.
Again as I said, I am grateful, in particular for the contribution that Portugal is making and is continuing to make to strengthen our long-term work, especially with countries of origin and transit, especially in Africa, in terms of economic investments, in terms of creation of opportunities for young people and women of the African continent. This is the real answer to the management of the migratory flows based on partnership, and respectful. This is what has proven to bring some results.
Portugal is doing its part. On the internal sides of the solidarity mechanisms it is not for us to work on that, but obviously I believe that the more solidarity can be exercised internally, the better and the more sustainable is our work on the external side of migration aspects.
On the strange disappearance of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in his country's consulate in Istanbul: does the Commission have any information on this or are you pressing anyone for answers about this?
On this, let me subscribe one hundred percent to what Secretary [of State of the United States of America, Mike] Pompeo said just a few hours ago.
We are fully aligned with the US position on this. We expect a thorough investigation and full transparency from the Saudi authorities on what has happened.
Link to the video: https://ec.europa.eu/avservices/video/player.cfm?ref=I161529