Activities of Secretary-General in Portugal, 12-13 May

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, accompanied by his wife, Ban Soon-taek, arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, from Madagascar, on Thursday morning, 12 May.

The Secretary-General first met with Augusto Ernesto dos Santos Silva, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Portugal. They discussed the current political situation in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Brazil. The Secretary-General also recognized Portugal’s prominent role in the advancement of the law of the sea and of ocean governance and expressed his appreciation for the country’s compassionate and positive response to the arrivals of refugees and migrants in Europe. The meeting was followed by a lunch hosted by the Foreign Minister.

Following a visit to the Champalimaud Foundation, which focuses on cancer research, the Secretary-General met with Syrian students who were studying in Portugal through scholarships. After hearing some of the students’ stories, he praised their strength and resilience. He said that throughout Syria, the war was taking a severe toll on education. He noted that a growing number of Syrian students were unable to pursue their dreams and aspirations of higher education and that most students who are refugees do not continue their education. (See Press Release SG/SM/17750.)

That evening, the Secretary-General attended a working dinner hosted by the Prime Minister, Antonio Luis Santos da Costa of Portugal. They discussed the large movements of refugees and migrants towards Europe, the situation in Guinea-Bissau, as well as violent extremism. The Secretary-General also thanked the Prime Minister for Portugal’s support to United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

The next day, after visiting the National Museum of Ancient Art, the Secretary-General met with the President of the Parliament, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues. They discussed the importance of the swift ratification of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change by Portugal as well as the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Following a visit to the Jeronimos Monastery, the Secretary-General met with President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa. They discussed the situation of refugees and migrants in Europe as well as the political situations in Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Libya. The Secretary-General commended Portugal’s role as a member of the Human Rights Council, as well as contributions to United Nations peacekeeping and law of the sea and ocean governance.

The President then presented the Secretary-General with the “Ordem de Liberdade” of the Republic of Portugal and hosted a lunch in his honour.

In the afternoon, the Secretary-General met with United Nations staff in Portugal.

The Secretary-General and his wife departed Lisbon to return to New York on Friday afternoon, 13 May.

Source: United Nations