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The President of the Republic welcomed the President of Portugal

The President of the Portuguese Republic, Dr. Jorge Sampaio, and Mrs Maria José Ritta de Sampaio arrived for a state visit in Estonia and met, this morning at Kadriorg, with the President of the Republic of Estonia and Mrs Ingrid Rüütel.

At the official welcoming ceremony, the Portuguese and Estonian national anthems were played and a guard of honour was lined up. Thereafter, Estonian and Portuguese high-ranking state officials and members of the countries' official delegations greeted the Presidents. The welcoming ceremony was followed by talks between the Presidents, in the course of which gifts and decorations were exchanged as well.

At a subsequent meeting between the Presidents and the official delegations, the EU and NATO enlargement that, according to the Portuguese President, would bring new quality also into the Estonian-Portuguese relationship was high on the agenda. President Sampaio emphasized that Portugal had always favoured enlargement of the European Union taking account of countries' common interests. He underscored that the Portuguese identity had only strengthened in the European Union, and this very preservation of national identities by all nations was what made Europe strong.

The Estonian Head of State agreed with the Portuguese President and indicated that, in our view, adherence to the democratic principles treating both big and small countries, old and new members as equals added on to the strength of the European Union. ''A Europe based on principles like these sets an example for the whole world'', President Rüütel said. He voiced confidence that the Portuguese President's state visit created excellent foundations for our close cooperation in future.

Talking about bilateral relations between Estonia and Portugal, the Heads of State highlighted the thus-far cooperation in the field of culture. During the last years, however, also economic contacts have begun to burgeon. The President of the Portuguese Republic on his state visit to Estonia is accompanied by a 70-member business delegation and both Heads of State expressed the hope that it helped to enliven business contacts between Estonia and Portugal. President Rüütel added that the EU Member States including Portugal had good possibilities to promote via Estonia business contacts with new neighbouring countries of the European Union too.

Subsequent to the meeting, Priit Kolbre, Permanent Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, and Carlos C. Neves, Secretary of State of European Affairs of Portugal, signed a cooperation agreement between the Republic of Estonia and the Portuguese Republic in the fields of language, education, culture, science and technology, youth, sport and media.

Monday evening, the President of the Republic of Estonia and Mrs Ingrid Rüütel at the Kadriorg Art Museum host a state dinner in honour of the President of the Portuguese Republic and Mrs Maria José Ritta de Sampaio.

Office of the President
Kadriorg, May 12, 2003

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