Portugal and Spain must remain close

by Chris Graeme

Against the background of the most important bi-lateral annual Portuguese-Spanish Summit, held in Zamora yesterday (Thursday), Portuguese Foreign Minister Luis Amado said that relations between Spain and Portugal at both a political and economic level were now the closest they had ever been within the past 800 years and certainly the last 20 years.

“Relations since these bi-lateral summits began 24 years ago have changed radically. It seems that after decades of standing back to back, we’re now standing face to face,” he said.

He said that the past 20 years in particular had seen a U-turn in relations after centuries marked by divergent attitudes and difficulties in many areas to one whereby both countries were integrated into the European Union and NATO and were enjoying a growing convergence, cooperation and cordiality in most policy areas.

At the same time that a level of intimacy had been achieved, so too had a respectful distance which was necessary in preserving national integrity and independence for Portugal.

“This challenge of creating, and sustaining at the same time, closeness and separateness at a company, political and diplomatic level to maintain the actual identity of a country whose sovereignty had developed over eight centuries of history is fundamental,” he said.

The veiled warning within the speech is timely given that Spanish companies, property entities and banks have made considerable inroads into the Portuguese economy in recent years while the balance of payments in terms of trade activities between the two countries is heavily weighted in favour of Spain.

Maintaining Portugal’s economic and political role on the Iberian Peninsula was “a difficult exercise”, he said, although fascinating from a political and diplomatic point of view but one where both countries had to maintain their own independent presence on the international stage.

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