Lisbon – President Borut Pahor and his Portuguese counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa called in Lisbon on Monday for a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis. As Pahor started a two-day official visit to Portugal, the pair also urged a faster EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.
The Slovenian president started his visit dedicated to the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations by laying a wreath at the tomb of Portugal’s greatest poet Luis de Camoes and visiting the church and monastery where the Lisbon Treaty was signed in 2007.
After tête-à-tête talks with Rebelo de Sousa and plenary talks between the countries’ delegations, Pahor said that Slovenia and Portugal often had similar views on European and foreign policy.
Regarding Ukraine, the Slovenian president said that both countries were deeply concerned about the growing tension, and that he and Rebelo de Sousa had agreed that the conflict must be resolved through diplomacy and in a peaceful manner.
“This is the only way to keep the peace for this and future generations,” Pahor told a news conference, adding that “Slovenia wants to believe the Russian leaders who are making assurances that there is no intention of using force to occupy part or all of Ukraine.”
Both presidents also supported further enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans. “The EU should do everything in its power to encourage democratic processes within the Western Balkans through enlargement,” Pahor said.
He added that the EU should also inspire the Western Balkan countries to resolve all bilateral issues and instil hope in the people of this part of Europe that they would become part of a united Europe within a reasonable time.
Pahor also talked with Rebelo de Sousa about the general election in Portugal, congratulating the Portuguese on successfully conducting the vote during the challenging time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Portuguese president noted that Pahor was the first foreign head of state whom he had hosted in Lisbon since the beginning of the pandemic.
As part of the official visit, Pahor also met Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and Speaker Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, and visited the Champalimaud Foundation, a leading institution in cancer research and treatment.
The Slovenian president will also attend a dinner hosted by Rebelo de Sousa and they will also inaugurate today a bench of Portuguese-Slovenian friendship in Lisbon.
A project conceived by Pahor in Slovenia, such benches are typically installed when he receives foreign statesmen. A bench of Slovenian-Portuguese friendship was installed in Kranj in June, when Pahor hosted Rebelo de Sousa.
On Tuesday, Pahor will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Lisbon for his efforts on reconciliation in Europe.