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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » June 17, 2010
Portugal in Poland
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Open Mind, Open Heart
June 17, 2010   
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José Duarte Sequeira e Serpa, Portugal’s ambassador to Poland, talks to Jolanta Wolska.

It’s nearly four years since you came to Poland. Has your opinion about this country changed over this time?
I came to Poland with an open mind and with a lot of enthusiasm. I had Polish friends whom I had met in many places throughout the world.

Poland has changed very quickly in the short time that I have been here—not always for the better, might I add. The main positive change is in the mind set of young people. That is a similar change to that in Portugal in the 1980s. In a way, the recent history of both our countries is similar. We had a dictatorship for 48 years, and Poland did too. Of course, there was a difference in that ours was a national dictatorship, while Poland’s was imported, and that makes a big difference.

The economic prosperity of Poland is growing; we have many Polish tourists in Portugal. I see that the Polish legislative system is coming closer to that of other European countries. On the minus side, bureaucracy is very heavy, though sometimes we also have similar problems in Portugal. The most negative point in fact is the Polish language, but it’s my own fault: I tried to learn it but it’s the most difficult language to learn.

What benefits does EU membership offer small and medium-sized countries?
Perhaps I will answer that differently. We have learned by experience. We can have many benefits from the EU, but we also have to pay the price, and Portugal has always been ready to pay that price. We are now also paying the price during the economic and financial crisis, but at the same time we have the support of the other members. The crisis might be worse if we weren’t in the euro zone, but at the same time, being a member of the EU, we have common responsibilities, and whatever happens we have to work together. I compare our membership to being in a family where sometimes there are discussions, disagreements and fights, but in the end we have many things that unite us and we have to work together. It is not always easy. If Portugal is affected by the crisis, we are not the only ones, other countries are suffering too.

Are small and medium-sized countries able to influence the way the EU functions?
I think so. The bigger countries have to listen to the smaller ones. During Portugal’s 24 years in the EU we have felt that when we explained our points of view and our interests, the big powers did take them into consideration. Of course, we have to give up a part of our sovereignty. But there is always a compromise.

What are your greatest achievements as ambassador to Poland and what would you still like to accomplish here?
I had two important priorities when I came here. The first was the Portuguese presidency of the European Union when we negotiated the Lisbon Treaty. We have a very small embassy in Warsaw and with a team of three it was quite a challenge. The second was the visit of our president, Mr. Cavaco Silva to Poland in 2008. President Lech Kaczyński was to have been in Lisbon this May.

I’d like to see our bilateral relations improve even more, although today they are excellent. We have common interests despite the geographic distance, and I want to see these interests grow further. We have good cooperation with Poland in areas that are not considered to be our traditional areas, like advanced technology. We want to highlight our traditions, for example in “The Flavors of Portugal” food and wine week in May, and in June we will have a hi-tech exhibition in Warsaw.

What are your favorite places in Poland and Warsaw?
I like Kazimierz Dolny and Gdańsk, and in Warsaw I’m particularly fond of the old part of the city. Our Portuguese air crews who stop in Warsaw always tell me how much they like coming to Warsaw. Warsaw is becoming a very popular city in Lisbon. I enjoy being here very much, although I would like to have more time to travel around your beautiful country.

Martifer Renewables S.A.
www.martifer.com/renewables
Ul. Kurniki 4, 31-156 Kraków, Polska
Tel. +48 12 6286625/26
Fax. +48 12 6286627
Email: info@martifer.com.pl

Martifer Renewables develops, builds and operates renewable projects in 15 countries all over the world. In Poland, MTR focuses on wind farm projects.

MTR was the first Portuguese company to build a wind farm in Poland with 10MW in Leki Dukielskie, Krosno District, which is now under operation.

MTR has 18MW under construction and over 400MW of pipeline under development.
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