- Portugal's State Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Fernando Neves, believes that Cape Verde is unlikely to become an effective member of the European Union (EU), as defended by former Portuguese president Mário Soares and scholar Adriano Moreira. According to Fernando Neves, the main obstacle lies in article 1 of the treaty that defines what countries can potentially become members of the EU.
Cape Verde, according to the Portuguese government official, does not meet the requisites in article 1 because "it isn't Europe." Fernando Neves made the affirmation in an interview published yesterday, 9 May, in the Portuguese newspaper 'Jornal de Notícias'.
Commenting on scenario of Cape Verde joining the European Union - an idea launched several months ago by Mário Soares and Adriano Moreira - Mr Neves states his skepticism bluntly. "In article 1 of the Treaty, it says that any European country that respects the Copenhagen criteria can be a candidate. I don't believe that Cape Verde is Europe."
Nevertheless, the cabinet official guarantees that Portugal will lend all necessary support for Cape Verde to benefit from the European Union as much as possible.
Speaking about relations between the European Union and Africa as well, Fernando Neves stated that despite the "signs of improvement," the situation remains "extremely worrying."
In 2000, Portugal held an EU-Africa summit "to give a political signal that was not given continuity, for well-known reasons. We hope another will be held in 2006 or in early 2007," he says.
Fernando Neves is an experienced career diplomat who currently is a part of Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates‚ government staff. The holder of a degree in law, he entered Foreign Affairs as an embassy attaché in 1975. Three years later, he became secretary in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaime Gama, where he accompanied the process that preceded Portugal's adherence to what was then the European Economic Community.
Mr Neves was also part of Portugal's Permanent Mission at the United Nations, and has worked at the Portuguese embassy in Washington, DC, and in Portugal's Permanent Representation in Brussels. Mr Neves has also served as Portugal's ambassador to Angola, the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands.
Cape Verde's Prime Minister José Maria Neves on Friday in Lisbon announced his country's intentions of formally requesting negotiations for an EU membership "even this year". He was supported by several high-ranking Portuguese politicians, including Prime Minister Sócrates.
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