Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Tightening ties within Europe

Portuguese prime minister and Ukraine president in Lisbon


With campaigning at its height  for the European Parliamentary elections, the ferocity of Russian attacks on Ukraine has intensified, and allied intelligence officials are now tracking an increase in Russian low-level sabotage operations in Europe.

The Russian operations could involve fake polls and propaganda fraud. The sabotaging is part of an effort to undermine support for Ukraine, according to intelligence sources. The operations have also involved arson or attempted arson attacks on a wide range of targets, including a warehouse in England, a paint factory in Poland, homes in Latvia, and an IKEA store in Lithuania. So far, no such damage has been reported in Portugal.

Portugal’s Prime Minister, Luis Montenegro, has been  to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. It was a very cordial meeting.

“We’re both committed to making Portuguese-German relations more intense,” said Mr Montenegro.

“We stand close to many of the challenges posed to Europe,” he said, and went on to praise the support Germany has been giving to Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian invasion.

He added that the Portuguese government was working to reach the “audacious” 2% budget target for defence expenditure as agreed with NATO. “Our commitment to NATO is full. From this perspective, we understand that words alone are not enough. This commitment must be materialised in action.”

The German chancellor said that Portugal had been “a reliable ally” and “a good friend for the European Union.” At the end of the meeting it was announced that there would be boosts to the cultural, economic, and political  relations between the two countries.

Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, paid a six-hour working visit to Portugal on Tuesday. It was described as “part of a shared intention to deepen the excellent relations between the two states, with a particular focus on strengthening cooperation in the field of security and defence.” Advance voting for the European Parliamentary elections has just begun (Wednesday May 29). Voting at polling stations will take place between June 6 and 9. Polling stations in Portugal will be open on the last day, the 9th. The overall turnout for the last EU parliamentary election in 2019 was low: 40.8%. A survey published earlier this year predicted the turnout this time would be significantly higher.

Young people, including first time voters, are being strongly urged to take part. The total number of people casting their ballots in the 27 member states for 720 parliamentary seats could be in excess of 373 million.

More publicity than ever is being given to the prospects of the far-right winning a majority of seats in this election. The populist parties have strong support in Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, and Portugal. However, the far-right remains divided, which may mean relative weakness in Strasbourg and Brussels. The centrists may well prevail.

As we reported recently, to be eligible to vote in Portugal, you need to be over the age of 18 and fit into one of four categories:

+  Portuguese citizens registered on the electoral roll of the national territory.

+  Portuguese citizens residing abroad who have not chosen to vote in another EU country.

+  Citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal who choose to vote for Portuguese members of the European Parliament.

+  Brazilian citizens with a citizen’s card or identity card with equal political rights.

Polling stations will be in municipal council offices or at locations posted on notices in local council offices on voting day.

Friday, May 24, 2024


Ursula von der Leyen

The incumber of centrist parties are expected to keep control of the European Union parliament in the June6-9 elections despite a big swing to the far-right.

Ursula von der Leyen, the born-in-Brussels EU commissioner, has declared: “I am ready to keep serving our people and our continent with the passion, confidence and experience needed in these challenging times. I want to build a majority for a strong Europe, because we don’t have the luxury to be weak in the world. Let’s do it together. Let’s stand for democracy prosperity, and security. Let’s fight for our Europe.”

The elections will take place June 6-9 to choose 720 representatives for the parliament in Strasbourg. In Portugal, the election will be on June 9 to choose 21 parliamentarians. Because of their larger populations, eight of the 28 EU countries have more seats in the assembly. Germany tops the list with 96 seats. France has 81.The three smallest nations have only six each.

All of Portugal’s candidates have already been presented by their political parties or coalitions. They were required to be Portuguese citizens, Brazilians with an equal status of political rights, or citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal. The full list is published (in Portuguese) on the website of the General Secretariat of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. It will also be published on June 9 in notices outside and inside the polling stations.

To be eligible to vote you need to be over the age of 18 and fit into one of four categories:

+  Portuguese citizens registered on the electoral roll of the national territory.

+  Portuguese citizens residing abroad who have not chosen to vote in another EU country.

+  Citizens of other EU countries registered in Portugal who choose to vote for Portuguese members of the European Parliament.

+  Brazilian citizens with a citizen’s card or identity card with equal political rights.

 Polling stations will be in municipal council offices or at locations posted on notices in local council offices on voting day.

The biggest change within the EU in the coming elections is a strong shift to far-right populist parties. This will of course be to the detriment of the so-called “super grand coalition” of three centrist groups. A populist coalition of Christian Democrats, conservatives and radical right MEPs might even emerge for the first time as a majority.

The far-right Chega (Enough) party did remarkably well in finishing third in this year’s general election in Portugal .Other far-right parties are doing much better in other EU countries. The shift could be so significant that it impacts  the ability of the European Commissions and Council to make foreign policy decisions, including implementing the next phase of the European Green Deal.

Of huge importance over the next five years of the next EU Parliament’s rule will be maintaining the continent’s defence security in view of the war in Ukraine and uncertainty over the continuing allegiance of the United States.

Make no mistake, these are massively important election coming up.


Friday, May 17, 2024

Portugal standing by Ukraine

Peaceful Portugal remains a firm ally of Ukraine, which is now under increasing bombardments, with fears of eventual defeat by Russia

Russia’s advances have intensified so much recently that there are worsening worries in the Western world about Ukraine’s prospects for survival as a sovereign nation.

President Vladimir Putin has been visiting his “friend” Chairman Xi Jinping in China while Russia’s latest electronic warfare techniques have been weakening Ukraine’s air defences provided by the United States and NATO.

Portugal has long been an adherent member of both the European Union and NATO. There has always been a basic agreement on foreign policy between the two main political parties, the centre-right Democratic Alliance and the centre-left Socialist Party, both of which have been running the country alternatively since soon after the Carnation Revolution in 1975.

The foreign policy consensus is as strong as ever, grounded on its European integration alongside its trans-Atlantic solidarity. “Portugal’s European integration is the cornerstone of democratic consolidation, and democracy is the source of legitimacy for Portugal’s accession to the EU,” said Nuno Severiano  Texeira , director of the Portuguese Institute of Foreign Relations, and former defence minister between 2005 and 2009. Only the Communists with little says  in the Portuguese Assembly regard what is going on in Ukraine as merely a “civil war.”

Domestic issues prevail, and so Portugal has only been able to help Ukraine’s war effort financially in a modest way. In terms of military assistance, Portugal has only allocated €70 million. However, Portuga’s military assistance has been noticeable in NATO front-line countries, particularly Romania and the Baltic states

While located on the far west of continental Europe, Portugal is well aware of concerns that should Russia take over Ukraine its aggression may move westward. This could be encouraged should the United States downgrade its economic and military assistance to Ukraine, or no longer be relied upon to support NATO. These are strong  possibilities if Donald Trump is returned to the White House in November’s presidential election

That aside, Daniel Marcos, professor at the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences at the new university in Lisbon, is  quoted by Joao Ruela Ribeiro in the “Eastern Europe bi-monthly magazine as saying: “Since the beginning of the Russian aggression , Portugal, following the tradition of transatlantic and European solidarity, has been on Ukraine’s side. First of all by condemning the external aggression which threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty , and secondly by giving its allies who border Russia  assurances that Portugal will be as assertive as possible regarding the security of NATO and EU territory.”

The Eastern European, which is widely read in central as well as eastern EU countries, recognises Portugal’s respect for Ukraine’s war efforts.  It notes that Ukraine is a matter of concern within Portuguese society in general, not only among politicians, but even more so than some other EU countries.

Last July, the president of Ukraine and the prime minister of Portugal, adopted a joint declaration reiterating their “unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s war “

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Info from UK Embassy in Lisbon


The UK Department of Health and Social Care is strongly advising UK nationals in Portugal who hold an S1 and receive UK health care cover, to confirm their contact details with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA). This will ensure that DHSC can provide all S1 holders with important information regarding their coverage and entitlements. The S1 is the form issued by the UK to state pensioners and other groups such as posted workers, when they need to register for healthcare in Portugal.


The request comes as DHSC will be undertaking a programme later this year to check whether there have been changes to the personal circumstances of S1 holders. This will ensure that people who are entitled to healthcare and UK benefits continue to receive them but also that DHSC does not keep paying for cover that is no longer necessary, such as when an S1 holder moves back to the UK. On average, this costs the UK taxpayer approximately £5,300 a year. A UK-insured state pensioner living in Portugal will therefore need to ensure they inform the NHSBSA if their circumstances have changed. 

A spokesperson for the Department stated:


“S1 holders need to contact the NHS Business Services Authority to confirm their contact details are up-to-date to ensure they don’t face any issues with their health cover and entitlements should we need to contact them.”


The message is directed at all S1 holders, who are mainly state pensioners living in Portugal but also include other groups such as posted workers, who register the S1 form with the Portuguese authorities, once they qualify and are resident in the country.


All S1 holders should contact NHSBSA and confirm their contact details on Alternatively they can be contacted by post at Overseas Healthcare Services, NHSBSA, Bridge House, 152 Pilgrim Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6SN, UK. Remember to include your full name and date of birth in any correspondence.


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

FATIMA – the fully story


Pilgrims from around the world are currently visiting the Sanctuary of Fatima in Portugal for the 106th anniversary of the first of six reported sightings of apparitions of the Virgin Mary.

You can obtain a completely unbiased account of the complex story of Fatima here:

Friday, May 10, 2024


Portugal is bracing itself for possibly the hottest summer ever, while globally, last month was the hottest April on record.  

According to Copernicus, the European Union’s climate monitoring service, April marked the continuation of an unprecedented 11-month streak of record-breaking conditions. Despite what the scientists say, some people argue that extreme weather conditions existed long before humans inhabited the Earth, so they feel there is no need to worry. Many older people tend to ignore the importance of reaching a “net zero” emission balance, and the deadline year of 2030 never mind 2050. They leave this concern to the young who will still be around.

Whether the planet was extremely hot or cold many thousands of years ago is irrelevant to the current concerns about environmental destruction caused by man-made greenhouse gas emissions threatening Portugal and elsewhere this summer

The notion that countries must just socially and economically adapt to extreme climate change is ridiculous. Brazil is one of the countries most affected recently, with major floods engulfing entire cities.

Portugal is as well prepared as possible for more wildfires, droughts and floods, as well as rising sea levels.

Portugal  has achieved a 60% renewable share in electricity generation. It aims to achieve an 80% share within the next two years. This is achievable because Portugal has abandoned the use of coal and is relying increasingly on hydro, wind and solar sources. 

Overall, Portugal has strong policies and targets in place. Although it is doing comparatively well in Europe, critics point out a number of extra measures the government could be taking. Experts want to see more support for low-income households, a faster phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies and improvements in the transport sector.

The major greenhouse gas emitting countries are still not doing nearly enough to address extreme climate challenges; The United States is focused on its November presidential election and providing support for the war in the Middle East. Russia is concentrating on its war in Ukraine. India has become a hub for ‘laundering’ Russian oil.and selling it to the West, thus helping overcome US and European sanctions against Russia. China is steeped in its own conflicts, and its desire to be the number one country in the world. 

All of the superpowers are failing to solve the existential global warming crisis they have largely created.


Friday, May 3, 2024



Orla Dargan

An Irish woman is still traumatised and living in hiding because of aggressive intrusions and violent threats, arising from a land dispute – and is just one example of what is being described as criminal land grabbing activities.   

Orla Dargan,65, is daughter of a CEO/chairman of the international Aer Lingus airline, and chairman of CRH plc, the largest global manufacturer and distributor of construction materials. After retiring as a city investment banker in London, Ms Dargan bought a home in the Algarve in 2016 for €180,000, and planned a rebuilding programme costing €600,000. However, her happy life in the small, tranquil town of Santa Barbara de Nexe in the central Algarve was to turn into a nightmare.

On returning from a visit to Ireland in 2021, Ms Dargan found her boundary fence had been broken. Diggers had ploughed in, and waste water had been poured onto her property. A land dispute eventually went to a Faro court where a judge ruled that Ms Dargan rightfully owned her property and there should be no illegal incursions. Ms Dargan  continued to do her best to cope with the aggressive side of the dispute, but ended up fleeing and moving from place to place in Portugal and Spain, hiding in fear of her life.

“Everyone, including my lawyer, still tells me I am at risk, but the authorities in Portugal, including the police, have not been doing anything about it.” As a possible solution to protect her property, she has now invited a number of British army veterans to live there.

Ms Dargan’s is not alone in suffering this sort of intimidation in the Algarve, according to a specialist land investigator, David Mapley, he describes land grabbing, as “an economic war being conducted due to the relative impoverishment of the Portuguese versus the "wealthy" foreigners arriving and driving up local property prices.”

Mr Mapley, who mostly deals with property crimes, says that “too often unsuspecting foreigners are rendered offside in a catastrophic way, spending years, money and stress in order to restore a property status quo.”

This is hardly the happy retirement most people dream of, he says, adding: “The glacial judicial system, indifference of the police, and ineptitude and corruptibility of lawyers, all well recognised by Portuguese, result in a one-sided battle for ‘AlGrab’, where miscreants can pretty much get away with what they want.

“As a result, misrepresentation, fraud, land boundary disputes, land and home theft, or neighbourly intimidation are commonplace.”