PM António Costa
Image: LUSA

Vilnius summit “starts with three bits of good news” – PM

“Everything that could have been complicated is at this point resolved”

Portugal’s prime minister António Costa has told reporters that the NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, has started with “three bits of good news”.

In fact, “everything that could have been complicated at this point has been resolved”.

It is not an opinion shared by President Zelenskyy of Ukraine who is far more concerned with the lack, this far, of any date for Ukraine’s adhesion to the bloc.

Mr Costa’s enthusiasm referred to Turkey’s final concession to the candidature to NATO of Sweden; to the resolution to reinforce military on NATO’s southern flank (the African continent) and to what he called “the unity of all in supporting Ukraine in its fight for the defence of international law, the right to sovereignty, territorial integrity…” 

“Everything that could have been complicated is at this moment resolved”.

The PM who yesterday visited Portuguese military protecting the skies in NATO’s Baltic Air Mission, said: “”I think it would have been difficult for us to start this summit better. Now I hope that the summit does not spoil what started so well…”

This is perhaps where President Zelenskyy’s most recent comments come in. He is reported to think it “absurd” that his country has still not been given a firm date for when it will be accepted into NATO.

Mr Zelenskyy says he is travelling to Vilnius as a matter of respect, but “Ukraine also deserves respect. Now, on the way to Vilnius, we received signals that certain wording is being discussed without Ukraine. And I would like to emphasise that this wording is about the invitation to become (a) NATO member, not about Ukraine’s membership.”

“It’s unprecedented and absurd when a time frame is not set for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about ‘conditions’ is added even for inviting Ukraine.

“It seems there is no readiness either to invite Ukraine to NATO nor to make it a member of the Alliance. This means that a window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in NATO in negotiations with Russia. And for Russia, this means motivation to continue its terror.

“Uncertainty is weakness. And I will openly discuss this at the summit,” said the leader who has undoubtedly been pivotal in the success of his country this far.

As to the nitty gritty of NATO’s reinforcement of the southern flank, SIC television news reports that it follows proposals, made by Portugal, after the Madrid summit in June.

“The introduction of the proposal that, over the course of this year, we should carry out a broad study of the threats and opportunities for partnership with NATO’s southern flank, in particular with the Middle East, with the Sahel, with North Africa, demonstrates that NATO – while focused on the priority of Ukraine – does not ignore the need to develop other partnerships and establish other opportunities for cooperation to the south”, the PM told reporters, describing the latest communiqué from NATO as “now clearly enshrined and in a very positive language of partnership”.

For several years, Portugal has insisted, together with the other 30 member states, on the need for the Atlantic Alliance to look to the southern flank, namely Africa, at a time when attention is focused on the eastern flank, because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, writes SIC.

The Wagner paramilitary group, which was one of the main forces loyal to the Kremlin in the war in Ukraine, has a strong presence on the African continent and there are also groups considered terrorist, namely al-Shabaab (based in Somalia) and militias affiliated with Daesh (self-proclaimed Islamic State), in regions such as the Sahel.

The aim is for NATO to reflect on the issue and present guidelines at next year’s summit in Washington.

Sources: SIC Notícias/ Newsweek