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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » May 27, 2011
Portugal in Poland
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More Alike Than Different
May 27, 2011   
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Jose Serpa, the ambassador of Portugal to Poland, talks to Marcin Pawlak.

How have Portuguese-Polish relations changed over the course of your stay in Poland?
I think they have improved a lot, first of all economically. A growing number of Portuguese companies are investing in Poland, and we’re working on an increasing number of projects with Poland in various areas. Politically, we’ve found out that we have a common position with Poland on many issues, including those within the European Union—and this is improving as well. I think, in many cases, we have similar interests, despite the distance and some minor differences, so it’s only natural that we work together.

When I first came here in 2006 we had about 50 Portuguese companies investing in Poland. Today we have over 100. This has happened in several areas. There are some companies that have been here for a long time, such as Bank Millennium and Biedronka, but more recently we’ve had cooperation in the energy sector. Portuguese companies have invested in various types of renewable energy in Poland. Every day our commercial office receives new people visiting Poland and wanting to invest here. We have some new projects concerning energy, which is very interesting because the situation in Portugal and Poland is very similar as both countries import 80 percent of their resources. In Portugal we also use a lot of solar energy, which is obviously more difficult in Poland due to the climate.

What do you think of your time here and what kind of memories are you taking with you?

I have both good and bad memories, which is the case in all the countries I go to. The bad memories are few and far between and I’ve already forgotten them. Professionally, there were two very important moments. The first one was the Portuguese presidency of the European Union. The second was the visit of the Portuguese president. It was really a challenge, but for me it was a historical moment and I’m proud of what we accomplished.

As far as the good memories are concerned, I have met many interesting people, and quite frankly I’ve had a very good time here. The climate wasn’t that important to me as I’ve seen all kinds of climates during my career, including moving from Central Europe to Africa in the middle of winter and experiencing a 50-degree temperature change.

As far as lifestyle is concerned, I think it’s very similar to that in Portugal, especially among young people. I’ve met young Polish people who travel there regularly, and when I compare them to my children I don’t see any differences in the way they behave. I think the major barrier is the language.

During my almost five years here I’ve experienced the pains of Poland growing, such as heavy traffic on the roads in Warsaw. But we feel there is something very strong in this country. I’m supposed to be leaving very soon but I’m sure one day I’ll come back to visit.
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