LISBON – President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou was in Portugal on Tuesday, continuing a two-day official visit at the invitation of her Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
Sakellaropoulou arrived on Monday, accompanied by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Andreas Katsaniotis.
The visit included a one-on-one meeting between the two presidents, followed by talks between delegations of the two sides. In statements during a joint press conference afterwards, she said that her visit “at these difficult hours for Europe” was an opportunity to condemn the “unprovoked Russian invasion and express our full support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, who are living through situations that we thought we would never see in Europe again.”
She noted that the Russian invasion, still underway, “was an inexcusable attack against a sovereign and independent state, which targets not only military units but also the civilian population and urban infrastructure of the country.”
The bravery and determination with which Ukrainians and the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky were defending their country “has moved us all,” she added, noting that the European Union and its member-states have provided all possible aid from the first moment.
She also called for the cessation of attacks on non-combatant civilians, their protection and the necessity of covering their basic needs as a priority, referring to the Greek community of 100,000 people that has lived in Ukraine for centuries, especially in the Mariupol area.
The EU had sent a strong message to Russia’s leadership that revisionism and attempts to dispute borders and international treaties will not be accepted, Sakellaropoulou said, adding that respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty and for international law were “non-negotiable principles for Greece”.
The very good bilateral relations between Greece and Portugal were also examined in the meeting with Portugal’s president, Sakellaropoulou said, while both sides stressed the importance of expanding cooperation in strategic sectors, such as trade, investments and renewable energy.
She also referred to the need to support Ukraine’s recovery and Ukrainian refugees going forward, while stressing that criteria must be met for a country to join the EU.
In response to questions, she said all member-states must consider the issue of the EU’s strategic autonomy and defence and especially issues related to energy, while noting the EU’s very good and fast response to both the pandemic and the sanctions against Russia, expressing hope that this experience will also help in finding solutions and making the right decisions for the support of vulnerable citizens and the economy.
Regarding the refugee crisis following the war in Ukraine and the Greek experience, Sakellaropoulou highlighted the need for humane treatment of refugees and migrants, while stressing the need for EU solidarity and a new European policy on migration “because one, two or three countries cannot carry this burden alone”.
The Portuguese president, welcomed Sakellaropoulou and noted that her official visit had been long delayed due to the pandemic and now coincided with the election of a new government in Portugal.
He also noted the very good relations between the two countries and condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine, while stressing the need for unity in Europe.
“Both Portugal and Greece are working with other European countries, seeking solutions to deal with the repercussions that we are already experiencing as a result of an unjust war,” he said.