A high-ranking Portuguese official said that his country was working to expand the European health protocol, to include third countries, as long as vaccines and certificates meet the requirements in force in the European Union.
Portugal’s Secretary of State for Internationalization Eurico Brilhante Dias said that with the vaccine pass, the ongoing vaccination process and the European Health and Safety Mark, the year 2021 would see a return to growth in tourism activity and better results than in 2020.
In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Dias said that the epidemic has had a negative impact on the global economy, noting that Portugal "is no exception.”
Despite the difficulties, the global outlook for economic recovery is now more positive, with growth projected at 6 percent in 2021 and 4.4 percent in 2022, according to IMF forecasts, he underlined.
On a different note, Dias stressed that the Kingdom was a major player in the region.
Recent initiatives taken by the Saudi Arabia confirm its commitment to future engagements that can lead to regional peace and prosperity, he said, expecting stronger cooperation and dialogue between the European Union and the Gulf states.
On relations between Portugal and Saudi Arabia, he said: “We hope to move forward with negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty, and to soon conclude talks on an air services agreement, realizing how important it is to improve air connectivity between the two sides to explore opportunities for investors in both countries.”
The Portuguese official noted that the two countries have enjoyed diplomatic relations for more than 40 years, as they signed a general agreement for cooperation in 2006 in the fields of economy, trade, investment, science and technology, culture, information, tourism, youth and sports.
He added that his country was looking forward to developing cooperation in other areas such as climate change, renewable energy, water, waste management, tourism, cultural heritage, health and higher education, hoping for cooperation between the Portuguese Space Agency and the Saudi Space Authority.
Dias said he believes that the Saudi Green Initiative was an important step to achieve the common goals of a more sustainable life on the planet, noting that the initiative has set ambitious goals, including increasing the share of renewable energy and reducing carbon emissions.
He stressed in this regard that in 2020, 61.7 percent of Portugal’s total energy production was based on renewables, especially hydraulic energy.
Regarding the situation in Yemen, Dias underlined importance of the Saudi initiative, noting that the Houthi attacks against the Kingdom were totally unacceptable.
On the Libyan level, Dias affirmed his country’s commitment to the European Union’s support to the government of Prime Minister Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh in the successful implementation of the road map agreed upon by the LPDF, and improving the living conditions of all Libyans.
Regarding the negotiations of the Iranian nuclear program and the dangers of Tehran’s activity in the region, the Portuguese Secretary of State for Internationalization noted that his country sees the nuclear agreement as an important pillar in the structure of non-proliferation and disarmament and the best way to ensure the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program.
“We are closely following the talks that have recently begun between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and dialogue is the first condition for establishing friendly relations with our neighbors. So we encourage them to follow this path and work together for the benefit of the region,” he stated.