Following concerns that the country’s border control agency and police are simply not equipped to deal with the escalating threat of terrorism in Europe, Portugal new foreign affairs minister Augusto Santos Silva has told Lusa news agency that he views tensions in the Middle East following last weekend’s executions in Saudi Arabia with “great concern”.
“We are worried by the regional tension that is ongoing in an area that is highly sensitive when it comes to the interests of European safety,” he said.
Indeed, the BBC has described the state of relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran now as the “worst they have been for 30 years”.
This new crisis followed the announcement by Saudi authorities that they had executed 47 prisoners held on terror charges, among them a prominent Shia cleric.
The killings sparked an outpouring of outrage and will almost certainly impact on the resolution of the Syrian crisis and allied efforts to stop ISIS.
International news services are at pains to explain the severity of what is now a full-blown rupture between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran – both of whom back opposing sides in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts, and as the unrest undermines all “progress” that seemed to have been made in getting powers round the table to address conflicts at the root of the refugee crisis, Portugal’s concerns are being echoed throughout Europe.
Santos Silva said the UN’s high commissioner for foreign affairs and security, Frederica Mogherini, has called attention to the delicacy of the situation “in the name of all 28 member states”, as well as “the need to find ways of dealing with the problem so that regional tensions do not deteriorate”.
He added that Portugal was against the death penalty “in any circumstances” and had “a very clear position in regard to the defence of human rights”.