The Portuguese Ambassador to Russia has discussed the Catalan independence bid with Sputnik, commenting on its possible impact on local businesses.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Lisbon doubts that Spain is at risk of serious internal divisions in light of the situation in the autonomous region of Catalonia, which recently declared its independence from Spain, according to Ambassador to Russia Paulo Vizeu Pinheiro.
“Spain is a multinational state which has been able so far to live peacefully in all its diversity of nations and which has achieved great economic success. I do not think that any serious splits are possible. I believe that there are no major concerns, Spain remains one of our main partners,” Pinheiro told Sputnik.
The ambassador has expressed confidence that the situation will be settled within the legal framework. According to him, Lisbon does not see any potential risks for Portuguese businesses in the autonomous community. He went on to explain that Spanish companies can change their legal address, but not physically leave Catalonia.
Pinheiro has also expressed doubt that any major risks could occur.
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Sputnik talked to Pinheiro the day after the Catalan parliament, dismissed by the Spanish government as a result of invoking Article 155 of the Constitution, recognized the decision and has stopped its work until new early elections. The same day Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont announced a trip to Brussels with other dismissed members of region’s government.
READ MORE: Catalan Parliament Recognizes Spain’s Decision to Dissolve the Body
Following weeks of tensions with the Spanish government, Catalonia officially declared independence on October 27. This move, as well as the independence vote, held on October 1, was strongly condemned and called illegal by Madrid.
The events have affected the local business environment, as more than 1,700 companies have already left Catalonia, according to the Spanish Business Registration Union.
READ MORE: Madrid Adopts Law to Help Catalonia-Based Companies Move to Other Regions
Relations With Russia
The ambassador has also commented on ties with Russia amid EU sanctions against Moscow.
“More important than the numbers and percentages is that our economic relations are again tied together and are now gaining momentum,” he said, answering the question on how the exchange of sanctions between Russia and the European Union affected bilateral trade.
According to the ambassador, “there is a huge area where [Russia and Portugal] could develop [their] relations, and the moment has come to do so.”
“We have a mutual interest in terms of exchange of technology, there is the tourism sector, there is wood trade, and finishing materials trade. In addition, we have contacts in the renewable energy sector, there are trade relations in the fields of wine, textiles. I want to emphasize that there is a whole world unaffected by sanctions, and we will work in this direction,” Pinheiro said.
According to Pinheiro, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Portuguese counterpart Augusto Santos Silva will possibly meet in the near future, as soon as the appropriate dates for both sides are found.
Asked about Lavrov’s possible visit to Portugal, Pinheiro expressed hope that visits of the two diplomats would become a regular occurrence given the spirit of the new era of bilateral relations.