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H.E. Peixoto Augusto José Pestana Saraiva, Ambassador of Portugal to Serbia


Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a state located in the west and southwest of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe and it is the westernmost country of mainland Europe. It is bordered by Spain to the north and east and by the Atlantic Ocean to the west and south. The territory of Portugal also includes two archipelagos in the Atlantic Ocean: the Azores and Madeira. The capital city is Lisbon. The name Portugal itself reveals parts of the early history of this country. It originates from the Roman name Portus Cale, a possible fusion of Greek and Roman names meaning “Beautiful port”, or even a fusion of Celtic and Latin or Phoenician and Latin. By its position, Portugal is a distinctively Atlantic country. With a surface area of 92,212 km2, it is one of the smallest countries in Europe. Approximately 10,500,000 inhabitants are living in the state, with a population density of 114 inhabitants/km2. The Portuguese make up the majority of the population (99.5%), whereas Brazilians, Spaniards and Englishmen together make a total of 0.5%. The faith structure is formed by 97% Roman Catholics and 1% Protestants. The country exports wine, fruit, vegetables, wood and cork and imports food grains and fish. The industrial sector has developed. The textile industry forefronts with one quarter of industrial employees. It is followed by the clothes industry, metallurgy, car assembling, electronic, leather, wood and food industry. By entering the EEC in the beginning of 1986, Portugal has found its trade partners which play a significant role in import.

They produce even up to 80 sorts of grape vine. The most famous wines are Port, a fortified wine which was named after the eponymous port city and a rosé called Mateus, which is bottled in specific bottles.

The Portuguese language is one of the most widespread languages in the world and is spoken by more than 230 million people. It is the official language in nine countries, including Portugal.

Popular sports in Portugal are: football, volleyball, tennis and athletics. The most famous sportsman is the football player Cristiano Ronaldo, multiple winner of the FIFA Ballon d'Or award.

The longest bridge in Europe is situated in Lisbon. It is called Vasco da Gama Bridge and is fascinating 17 kilometers long.

We had the honor to talk to His Excellency Mr. Peixoto Augusto José Pestana Saraiva, Ambassador of Portugal to Serbia.

1 Your Excellency, how do you feel about being in Belgrade? Can you tell us about your impressions of Serbia?

I am very satisfied with my experience in Serbia, where I have been for almost five years now and I have always been very well treated. I am really thankful for the friendship and understanding that I have received from the Serbian people, so I can say that their attitude has always facilitated my work here.

2 How long have you held the position of ambassador in Serbia, and what was the course of your career in diplomacy before you came to Serbia?

I was posted as Ambassador of Portugal to Serbia in April 2013. Before Belgrade, and after I had served in different countries throughout my career (Mexico between 1984 and 1989, Peru between 1989 and 1991, Mozambique between 1991 and 1994), I served as General Consul in San Francisco between 1998 and 2003, and then as Ambassador in Bogota, Colombia, between 2006 and 2013.

3 What is the current diplomatic and economic cooperation between our two countries like, and what was it like in the past? What should be changed in order to improve that cooperation?

The diplomatic and political relations are excellent, as shown during a recent visit by H. E. Minister for Foreign Affairs of Serbia to Lisbon on April 20th, in which the strong and continuous support of Portugal for Serbia’s future accession to the EU was reiterated. Our relations are constantly improving but there is always space for improving them even more.

4 According to the latest data, around EUR 932 thousand has entered our country from Portugal, making it No. 55 on the list of countries with the largest non-resident net investments in Serbia. Have there been any significant changes to these figures in the meantime, and if so, what was the main cause of those changes?

The figures that you mention are still the same, so there haven’t been significant changes to the available data.

5 When it comes to investments, how do investors from Portugal see the Serbian market? What are the most influential companies that have made investments here?

Portuguese investors see the Serbian market as an attractive one and there is a growing interest in coming to do business in Serbia, mostly in the sectors of renewable energies, civil engineering and public construction, water, the waste treatment industry and sanitary landfills.

6 What is the nature of the foreign trade cooperation between our countries and which industries in Serbia have the most potential? What does Serbia export to Portugal, and what does it import from Portugal?

At this moment I don’t have information that would allow me to answer this question, but I will try to answer it at the next opportunity.

7 Most public enterprises in Portugal have been made private over the last twenty years, including those in the financial and telecommunications sectors. Has this practice been efficient? What do you think about the privatization process in Serbia?

The privatization of public companies in Portugal has happened since the Constitutional Revision in 1982 that applied the principle by which there are some sectors, namely finance and telecommunications, in which the state shouldn’t have a steering role. The so-called privatization has turned out better in some cases and worse in others.

8. How would you describe your cooperation with the Serbian Government and business associations for the purpose of developing entrepreneurship?

We have been working with competent Serbian authorities in order to attract the potential investment of Portuguese companies to this market, given that the conditions that Serbia is offering are very beneficial for foreign direct investment.

9 Today, Serbia is a candidate country – the negotiations started in January, 2014.In your opinion, how far along is Serbia on the path towards the EU, and what will be crucial for Serbia to become a member state?

After this year’s visits by high-level EU officials to Serbia, there was a consensus about its progress – if the ongoing negotiations continue in a positive manner, Serbia could meet the conditions and be ready to enter the EU at the beginning of 2025.

10 Can you tell us about the relationship between Serbia and Portugal in the fields of science, culture and education?

Each year this Embassy organizes a cultural program that makes it possible to bring some of the best writers, artists and musicians from our country to Serbia.

11 How would you present your country as a tourist attraction? Which characteristics and sights would you highlight?

In the last couple of years Portugal has experienced a real tourist “boom”, having reached almost 20 million tourists in 2017, which is double our population. We think that the tourists who come to Portugal are attracted by its rich historical and cultural heritage, gastronomy (and particularly wines), beaches (we have 800km of coast) and also golf courses that are considered to be among the best in Europe.

12 What are the things you particularly like in Serbia? How do you spend your free time?

There are many things I like in Serbia, especially in Belgrade, where I have the opportunity to enjoy cultural events. Whenever I can, I try to travel and visit other parts of the country so I can get to know it better. I’d also like to mention the friendship and hospitality of the Serbian people that I have experienced in the last five years of my service in this country and which I very much appreciate.