Foreign minister denies Portugal is China’s ‘special friend in the EU’

State Budget focus on ‘projecting Portugal in the eyes of the world’

With Luanda Leaks shining unwelcome light on the expediency of certain Portuguese institutions, ruling PS Socialists have announced that the State Budget under debate in its speciality right now is focused on projecting Portugal in the eyes of the world.

Head of diplomacy Augusto Santos Silva told parliament it is one of the executive’s priorities for 2020.

Buzz-expressions are ‘internationalising the economy’ and ‘making the most of resources from a geo-political standpoint’.

To this end Santos Silva outlined the looming Portuguese presidency of the EU (during the first six-months of 2021), Lisbon’s hosting of the next UN conference on the oceans (scheduled for June this year), the first World Day of the Portuguese Language (to be celebrated on May 5) and Expo Dubai 2020, where Portugal is investing 21 million euros in its own sumptuous pavilion.

Indeed the latter initiative is seen as “an enormous opportunity for the image of Portugal”, showcasing “external policies, internationalisation of the economy and the promotion of tourism”. The pavilion is expected to attract over seven million of the Expo’s 25 million visitors, and will host events from October to April 2021.

Regarding ‘external policies’, the foreign ministry is planning a ‘new management model’ for consular services and two “very important programmes”: one dubbed ‘Internationalising 2030’, the other ‘the National Programme for Supporting Diaspora Investment’.

Again on an international level, the Camões Institute (designed to promote the Portuguese language, with centres all over the world) is to be ‘further empowered’ in order to fulfill its core ethos.

Explain reports, the foreign office this year will be benefiting from a 61 million euro increase on its budget for 2019.

The money will be used, said Santos Silva, to help promote all major events already scheduled and to boost Portuguese cultural initiatives in general.

Meantime, the country will be working on how best to make use of “the possibility to win European funding” for all kinds of projects.

Suggesting late last year that 2020 would be a game-changer for Portugal, secretary of state for internationalisation Eurico Brilhante Dias stressed everything is being done to create an image of Portugal as “an innovative, entrepreneurial country that is friendly, striving for environmental sustainability, and with a large capacity for welcoming (other nationalities)”.

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