Photo: © 2016-2019 Presidência da República Portuguesa

President of Portugal convenes Council of State to discuss Ukraine

The President of Portugal has called a meeting of the Council of State for March 14, “with a single item on the agenda: the situation in Ukraine”.

This information was released on Monday through a note on the official website of the presidency of the republic.

On Thursday, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told journalists that he was considering convening his political consultation body “in due course” in the event of Portugal possibly “taking an additional position” on the Russian military offensive in Ukraine.

“I ponder, in due time, a convening of the Council of State. But in due time, at a moment when it makes sense, following the Council of State, to take any additional position, complementary, to what has been done and said by the prime minister, the minister of foreign affairs, the minister of defence, and also occasionally by the president of Portugal,” he said.

The president, who was speaking at the end of a visit to a pavilion of the Lisbon Municipal Police prepared to receive Ukrainian refugees temporarily, said that at this moment, all political leaders should hold back in their statements, in the name of the search for peace.

“Public opinion, within this idea of embracing the cause, wants more immediately. We have to think of the flesh and blood people who are in this panorama of war, of what is being experienced, and how this requires prudence, wisdom and restraint on the part of those responsible”, he added.

The Council of State met for the last time on November 3 last year, with two meetings in a row, first with European Central Bank (ECB) president Christine Lagarde, and then to pronounce on the dissolution of parliament following the lead of the budget.

Since assuming the head of state in March 2016, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has increased the frequency of meetings of the Council of State, his consultative political body, and has innovated by inviting foreign and Portuguese personalities to its meetings.

On February 11, the president invited John Kerry, the United States of America’s special presidential envoy for climate, to participate in a future Council of State meeting on this topic.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa made this invitation to John Kerry during a meeting the two had in Brest, France, on the sidelines of the international summit “One Ocean”, organised by the French presidency of the European Union.

“It was left to see if dates could be agreed, to determine exactly when this could take place, because it would allow us to deal with a crucial issue, for us particularly important: climate change, the oceans and new energies, and the problem of energy, which is on the agenda,” the head of state told journalists at the end of the summit.

“He has accepted. All that remains now is to set the exact date,” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa added.

The Council of State includes the speaker of parliament, the prime minister, the president of the Constitutional Court, the ombudsman, the presidents of the regional governments and former presidents of Portugal.

Under the Constitution, it also includes five citizens designated by the president for the duration of his mandate and five elected by parliament, in accordance with the principle of proportional representation, for the duration of the legislature.

When he began his second term on March 9, 2021, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa appointed the writer Lídia Jorge as a councillor of state and reappointed the former leader of the CDS-PP António Lobo Xavier, the former president of the PSD Luís Marques Mendes, the president of the Champalimaud Foundation, Leonor Beleza, and the neuroscientist António Damásio.

When the new legislature begins, following the legislative elections of January 30 this year, the Assembly of the Republic will have to elect five new members of the Council of State. For now, the councillors elected by parliament are Carlos César, Francisco Louçã and Domingos Abrantes, nominated by the PS, and Francisco Pinto Balsemão and Rui Rio, appointed by the PSD.

Source: Lusa