Marcelo’s programme ‘altered’ for security reasons
Portugal’s president began a three-day State visit to Belgium last night as the capital, Brussels, was plunged into terrorist lockdown.
An illegal immigrant, described as an ISIS fanatic, gunned down two young Swedes – ostensibly in retaliation to the killing in the United States of a 6-year-old Muslim boy.
The troubles in the Middle East, between Israel/ Hamas appear to have been the trigger for both atrocities, albeit Marcelo believed last night that it was “premature to establish” these kind of links.
Interviewed at the hotel where he was staying, Marcelo said in “principle we are going forward with the schedule as planned”, which involves visits to three regions, meetings with the King and Queen of Belgium – who invited Portugal’s Head of State for this visit – and other institutional fixtures.
It has since transpired that certain details have been changed, namely the welcoming ceremony outside the Royal Palace this morning, as well as the laying of a ceremonial wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
Marcelo is accompanied by the minister of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho, and by members of parliament from the six parties with parliamentary groups: Marta Temido, from the Socialist Party (PS), Gabriela Fonseca, from PSD social democrats, Rui Paulo Sousa, from CHEGA, Joana Cordeiro, from Liberal Initiative, Alfredo Maia, from the PCP communists, and Pedro Filipe Soares, parliamentary leader of Bloco de Esquerda.
Tomorrow, Portugal’s head of State will travel to the Walloon region and on Thursday to the Flanders region.
According to the Emigration Observatory, around 50,000 people with Portuguese nationality lived in Belgium in 2022.
This visit comes ten days after the October 7 attack by the Islamist group Hamas on Israel and at a time when Israel is said to be preparing for a ground invasion, to eliminate Hamas militants from Gaza.
Meantime, in Brussels, the ISIS-affiliated gunman was reported ‘shot dead’ early this morning. The city nonetheless remains under heightened security as particularly ‘anti-Jewish/ Israeli’ feelings appear to be running high due to Israel’s siege of Gaza that has heightened the already abject misery of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.ND