Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is in Belgium this week. Image: António Pedro Santos/ Lusa

President travels to Belgium for 3-day State visit

Invitation came from Belgium’s king Philippe and queen Matilde

Portugal’s president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, arrives in Brussels today for a State visit between Tuesday and Thursday, at the invitation of the king and queen of Belgium, during which he is also scheduled to meet the country’s prime minister and members of Belgium’s parliament, writs Lusa.

During the visit, Marcelo will be visiting three regions of the country: Brussels, Wallonia and Flanders.

The official programme begins tomorrow morning with a welcome ceremony at the Royal Palace in Brussels by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, followed by meetings at the Federal Parliament, with representatives of the House and Senate, and at the office of the prime minister, Alexander de Croo.

Afterwards, Marcelo is due to meet the mayor of Brussels, Philippe Close, before moving on to a banquet hosted by the monarchs at the Royal Castle of Laeken.

On Wednesday, Portugal’s head of State will be visiting the University of Namur, lunching at the palace of the region´s governor before going on to the Free University of Brussels.

At the end of the day, Marcelo is due to meet the king and queen again, at the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium… for a fado concert.

Thursday is to be almost entirely spent in the region of Flanders, Lusa continues. Marcelo will be visiting the Port of Zeebrugge – which is now part of the larger Port of Antwerp-Bruges, following a merger in 2022 – and Bruges, where he is to lunch at the town hall and meet with Portuguese students from the College of Europe.

The State visit ends on Thursday evening with a meeting with representatives of the Portuguese community at the town hall in Saint-Gilles.

According to Portugal’s Emigration Observatory, around 50,000 Portuguese nationals were living in Belgium in 2022.

Jorge Sampaio was the last president of Portugal to make a State visit to Belgium (also lasting three days, in October 2005). His successor as head of state, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, visited the country twice, in September 2007 and June 2013, but on visits to European Union institutions only.

De Sousa himself visited the EU institutions in Brussels in March 2017, when he was received by the king and queen.

In October 2018, at his invitation, the king and queen paid a State visit to Portugal.

At the time, Marcelo referred to Portugal and Belgium as two countries that are “close allies” and “friends” in the EU, the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with a “common role” in promoting global peace.

Belgium will be the 19th country to receive a State visit from Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, after Mozambique, Switzerland, Cuba, Cape Verde, Senegal, Croatia, Luxembourg, Mexico, São Tomé and Príncipe, Greece, Egypt, Spain, Angola, China, Ivory Coast, Italy, India and Ireland.