Government of Portugal

01/13/2022 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/14/2022 06:40

Portuguese concerns included in the European Union Strategic Compass Portugal also seeks clearer references to the Atlantic, an ocean of fundamental importance in Europe’s Defence

2022-01-13 at 13h23

Portuguese concerns included in the European Union Strategic Compass

The most recent version of the new EU Defence Strategy, the so-called Strategic Compass, already includes some of Portugal's concerns, yet the country wants the EU to pay further attention to the Atlantic Ocean, stated the Portuguese Minister of Defence João Gomes Cravinho during a statement to RTP broadcaster and Lusa press agency. The statement was given in Brest, France, where the 27 Ministers of Defence are meeting.

The Minister highlighted the importance of the Strategic Compass, in which "for the first time, the European Union takes its role of geopolitical relevance and explains how this relevance is to be shown in the next four, five years".

The new version, presented by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell "is an improved version, including some of Portugal's concerns, namely strengthening the parts focused on maritime security, but we believe that until March (when it is to be approved) there may be some positive changes", he added.

In addition to reinforcing maritime security, Portugal wants this dimension to include "much clearer references to the Atlantic Ocean", as in the current version of the document "the Atlantic is somewhat lacking".

The document makes references to the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian and the Indo-Pacific oceans, yet it lacks "clear references to the Atlantic, which is an ocean of the utmost geostrategic importance for Europe, and which is increasingly a space for major powers to compete with another and contest it.

João Gomes Cravinho however noted the convergence of the 27 member states in a subject that wasn't usually consensual: "We now see that the level of convergence between Europeans is such that we are discussing details, and that means there is no risk of the document not being adopted in March", he stated.

Russia and Ukraine

The Minister was also pleased with the "absolute refusal" by all Member States of the Russian attempts to divide the European Union regarding the attitude towards Russia's threats to Ukraine.

"It's clear that Russia's attitudes seek to divide. Divide the Europeans and divide the Europeans from the North Americans. And this attitude clearly merited absolute refusal and all the interventions today were clear on the importance of maintaining unity in our dialogue with Russia", he claimed.

Referring that that the tension between Russia and Ukraine "is a very worrying situation", João Gomes Cravinho said, "it must be dealt with firmly, with a clear purpose and in unity among all Europeans".

Gomes Cravinho also referred to the guarantees given by the United States (Moscow's main interlocutor in the ongoing talks to reduce tension in Ukraine) that Europe will always have a word in a political solution to the conflict, stating that in this case there is strict coordination, as opposed to what happened in the summer of 2021, when the US troops were withdrawn from Afghanistan and Europe was caught by surprise.

"We all drew lessons from Afghanistan and the United States have made a significant effort to coordinate with the EU and individual EU member states throughout these last weeks", he added.

The informal meeting of the Ministers of Defence kicked off on the 12th, following a NATO Council - Russia meeting held on that day in Brussels, during which there was an effective dialogue, albeit "far from a satisfactory understanding with Russia", he said.