- Cape Verde's Prime Minister José Maria Neves this weekend in Portugal announced that his country may present a formal request to the European Union (EU) to seek membership later this year. Mr Neves has been encouraged by Portugal's and Spain's support for a possible EU membership request.
Prime Minister Neves at a press conference in Lisbon said that he wanted Cape Verde to present a formal request to Brussels "even this year." Even if membership negotiations could take a long time, Cape Verde is any case wanted "to go as far as possible" in its attachment to the EU, Mr Neves said.
The Cape Verdean leader announced these intentions together with Portugal's Prime Minister José Sócrates, who announced his country's support for any Cape Verdean request. The initiative to lobby for Cape Verde's EU membership was taken by Portugal's ex-Prime Minister Mário Soares, who also has achieved Spanish support for the idea.
According to Mr Neves, Cape Verde would be an important resource for the European club of 25 nations. The Atlantic archipelago could become "a bridge between Europe, the Americas and Africa and be an instrument for the Atlantic Ocean to be a peace corridor," the Prime Minister said. He emphasised the "strategic" value of Cape Verde, which within the EU would "enlarge the secure and stable zone to the southern part of the northern Atlantic."
As the EU recently started formal membership negotiations with the mostly Asian and Muslim country Turkey, Portuguese and Cape Verdean politicians found the door to be open for the possible membership of the African nation of Cape Verde. Although geographically farther away from Europe, Cape Verde is culturally and economically closer to current EU members than Turkey.
The archipelago is part of the North Atlantic subregion termed Macaronesia, which also includes the Spanish Canary Islands and Portuguese Azores and Madeira. The other three volcanic island groups already are part of the EU.
Also economically, Cape Verde is not in a worse position than Turkey. The archipelago is currently considering introducing the euro instead of its own escudo and it is already complying with most of the EU's economic stability demands. Cape Verde's economy is currently progressing far quicker than the EU and the country was recently upgraded from a so-called "least developed country" to a "middle income country".
Possible membership negotiations in any case however would be a long-lasting effort, as many European countries might be sceptical towards opening up a membership door to northern and western Africa. Cape Verde would further need a thorough reform work towards adapting ten of thousands of EU directives and regulations. As a first step, therefore, also Prime Minister Neves foresees "an association status in the EU."
The Cape Verdean leader however finds strong support for a possible EU membership in the former colonial power, a country which shares many values with the archipelago. Mr Neves during the weekend has had lobbying meetings with all major parties and financial institutions in Lisbon.
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