In a televised address that was due to go out before the horrendous attacks in Brussels this morning, President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has talked of the “blind and cowardly” assault to the “heart of Europe”.
Addressing leaders of the country’s ruling political parties, Marcelo was due to talk on the importance of solidarity between Portugal’s separate powers, parliament and the Constitutional Court.
But today’s bomb attacks in Brussels marked the occasion, said parliamentary president Ferro Rodrigues and thus Portugal’s repudiation of this “total evil” had to be recorded.
Explaining that he was following the developing situation in Brussels carefully – particularly the case of “our compatriot injured” in the Maalbeek tube attack – Marcelo said it was important for all Europeans to unite to defend “democracy, dignity and human rights”.
“In a moment like this, we have to affirm these values for a process of construction of peace and social and economic development”, he said, stressing that without “peace, development and justice” there will never be security.
Similar words came from MEP Ana Gomes, herself in Brussels and forced to reschedule meetings due to the fact that the city is now in lockdown.
Gomes stressed she was “not really surprised” when she heard news of the attacks on local radio this morning.
“When Salah Abdeslam was arrested (earlier this week) I knew something might happen”, she told Público. “There is an organised network here and the possibility of his talking probably set off a chain of action by others who rushed whatever plans they had, fearing that they might be discovered by the police”.
Gomes added that Europe has to accept “many responsibilities in this situation”.
It has to “review its policies of arms sales to regimes that feed terrorism, like Saudi Arabia”, she said. And it has to “rethink” the way it is dealing with refugees – which she claims is “against European values. Without forgetting economic policies which produce unemployment and generate radicalism”.
As the country remains glued to the emerging news stories, Lisbon airport’s check-in hall has been reopened. The scare that prompted its evacuation earlier this morning came after airport staff noticed two unattended bags, writes Público.
The hall was closed in total for less than half an hour, reports the paper. Meantime, all flights to and from Brussels remain suspended until further notice.