João Da Camara, Ambassador of Portugal to India, joined his country’s Foreign Ministry in 1984 and served in different capacities in various parts of the world.A graduate in law from the Faculty of Human Science at the Catholic University of Portugal,he was Ambassador to Zimbabwe and Angola before arriving in Delhi in 2015. In this interview with Ashok Tutejaat the Embassy in New Delhi,he spoke about the outcomes of the visit of Prime Minister Antonio Costa to India in January and the increasing cooperation between the two countries. Excerpts:
Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa was in India in January. What do you see as the highlights of his visit?
First of all,the visit marked the resumption of relationship that was not moving too much and was not very expressive.It [the visit] gave a new impetus.Now we have a plan, objective and commitment to the relationship from both sides at the highest level.
What is the nature of defence relationship between India and Portugal?
It was one of the items included in the Prime Minister's agenda during the visit.This relationship has two main areas: business in military goods and materials and close relationship between our armed forces. An MoU was signed to allow continued relationship between the ministries of defence and the armed forces. The MoU includes everything,including joint military exercises and collaboration between the Army,Navy and Air Force. The visit of the Prime Minister enabled the signing of the MoU. It forms the broader policy for this relationship.
India is keen to join the Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) as a full-fledged member.Does your country support our candidature?
We look at India's case with a lot of sympathy. We would very much like consensus to be formed over India's membership. We would certainly support it.
What is Portugal's view on the expansion of the UN Security Council with the possible inclusion of countries like India?
We are one of the first supporters of India's candidature together with the candidatures of Brazil and one African country.We feel very strongly about it.
Portugal is a key member of the European Union (EU).Why has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and EU still not fructified despite almost a decade of negotiations?
At the moment,there are no negotiations going on between the two sides over the FTA. I hope both sides resume negotiations at the earliest. There is will on both sides to resume these negotiations…The manifestation of that desire is there. There are other priorities also on both sides. The time of India-EU FTA has not arrived yet but I hope it will arrive soon.
How do you think India and Portugal can promote people-to-people contacts?
Tourism would be an ideal way to promote people-to-people contacts. We should also promote all types of exchanges both officially and unofficially. We have been having growing number of Indian tourists to Portugal and growing number of Portuguese tourists to India.That encourages us but the numbers are still not expressive and meaningful.
Are you taking any meaningful steps to promote tourism from India?
Our Deputy Minister for Tourism was in India two weeks back and made lots of contacts in this direction. India is a fantastic market. More and more Indians are travelling abroad. We want to capture some of that growing market. Portugal is a very 'fashionable' tourist destination.