João Gomes Cravinho meets with British counterpart James Cleverly
The status of Portuguese nationals in the United Kingdom and bilateral cooperation are on the agenda of a meeting today between Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho, and his British counterpart in London.
The meeting with James Cleverly will take place at the end of a visit as part of the celebrations of the 650th anniversary of the British-Portuguese Alliance, in which the Portuguese minister accompanied the president of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
João Gomes Cravinho told journalists the relationship between Portugal and the United Kingdom is “intense on many levels: economic, cultural and human”.
In recent years, the growth of the Portuguese community in the United Kingdom – estimated at around 400,000 people – and the change in residence status due to Brexit reinforced the need for “constant and intense dialogue” between London and Lisbon.
At the meeting, he said, the two ministers will discuss, “among other things, the status of Portuguese people living in the United Kingdom and family reunification issues”.
Since the signing of the Joint Declaration on Bilateral Cooperation between Portugal and the United Kingdom in 2022 by Prime Minister António Costa and his British counterpart at the time, Boris Johnson, there have been “numerous advances” in terms of citizens’ rights.
Among a number of areas of work identified, from science to labour issues, there are “matters of people’s practical lives, such as the mutual recognition of driving licences and many, many matters in which it is of interest to Portugal and to the United Kingdom to move forward,” said Gomes Cravinho.
In terms of foreign policy, the two governments intend to assess how they can work together. The Portuguese minister added that the area of defence “is a particularly promising area because of the situation” of war in Ukraine, which he considers will continue well into 2024 (see below).
“We have seen that there is a lot of potential for joint work, especially at the level of the army,” he stressed, and that “defence industries have complementarities that we will explore”.
According to Gomes Cravinho, a defence agreement is being finalised that will serve as a basis for intensifying the Luso-British relationship in this area.
Another opportunity for collaboration indicated is to work together in the Baltic countries to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank to face the Russian threat.
On the agenda of the meeting will also be issues of the relationship within the framework of NATO, and the United Kingdom’s relationship with the European Union.
“With the UK leaving the European Union, a very important Atlantic voice has been lost. Portugal is interested in this Atlantic voice being part of the European dialogue”, said Portugal’s foreign minister.
Ukraine war “will last into 2024”
The Portuguese should prepare for the war in Ukraine to prolong “until at least 2024”, despite the advance of the counter-offensive against Russia’s invasion, Gomes Cravinho has told journalists this morning.
“I think that, unfortunately, we have to get used to the possibility of having a conflict that enters 2024 and that is still with us for a few months,” he said, underlining the premise that it is “crucial to continue supporting Ukraine.
“There is a great unanimity and will to ensure that in the end, Russia has a strategic defeat. Anything that is not a strategic defeat for Russia will, unfortunately, be a strategic defeat for us and that we cannot accept,” he said.
The minister also said that he believes it is “very reasonable for Russia to accept an extension that is not only for two months, as has been the case lately” of the agreement on cereal exports.
“Russia has some demands in that regard. The current grain agreement runs until mid-July, and in this process, we are working with the Secretary General of the United Nations and other UN bodies and with Turkey as well to create conditions for an extension that is for a much longer period,” he explained.
The Portuguese government considers an agreement “essential to avoid food security problems in other parts of the world, particularly in Africa”.