On a three-day official visit to Switzerland, President Marcelo de Sousa has been on top form, cracking jokes in front of as many as 2,000 Portuguese emigrés in an ice-hockey pavilion and stressing that Portugal is “the best country in the world”.
“You cannot feel the ice in here,” he quipped. “The human warmth created by the Portuguese even surprises the Swiss.”
Steering clear of any kind of detail (in the wake of ongoing publicity about next year’s ‘hidden austerity’ budget), Marcelo stressed Portugal should not be seen as a country “of the past”, but one of the future.
To the sound of folkloric music, he praised Switzerland’s Portuguese citizens, “highlighting the importance of one of the communities that most supports the national economy”, writes Diário de Notícias.
The president met and managed to satisfy a group of around 20 of the so-called “indignant” – who saw their life-savings plundered in the wake of the BES collapse – without giving them “anything concrete” by way of promises, and he is now off to visit various businesses and centres for investigation.
Says DN, this first official visit of a Portuguese president for 16 years means to “intensify the good, straightforward relations that exist between Switzerland and Portugal, particularly on a human and economic level”.
Marcelo will be back in Portugal late tomorrow (Tuesday), and will be meeting the various political parties on Thursday and Friday to discuss the much-talked about measures proposed in Portugal’s 2017 budget.
But as he said when the document was presented in parliament last Friday, he will not be giving an opinion on the government’s strategy until the budget comes up for its final vote on November 29.