Germany and Portugal want to continue to pull together in military support for Ukraine. During a visit to Lisbon on Wednesday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called the joint supply of the country attacked by Russia with Leopard 2 main battle tanks a "visible sign" of the good cooperation between the two countries.
Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said his country was ready to continue military support to Ukraine together with Germany "as far as we can" - "but without reducing our defense capacities".
Portugal was the first country to pledge to Germany to equip a Ukrainian battalion with Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks. Germany has now delivered 18 of these tanks, Portugal three. In January, after much hesitation, the federal government agreed to forge an alliance to supply the Leopard 2, which was produced in Germany.
Scholz: "Basically more of the same" necessary
In view of a possible spring offensive by the Ukrainian armed forces, the chancellor does not believe that further improvements in the quality of arms deliveries are necessary. "What is required now is essentially more of the same," said the SPD politician. Above all, he mentioned anti-aircraft systems, but also battle tanks and armored personnel carriers and the ammunition required for them. "That will certainly be the focus of what we have to do in the future to ensure this long-term sustainability." You have to be prepared "that it can take a long time".
The chancellor also indirectly rejected the delivery of western-style fighter jets. Scholz has emphasized several times that he does not consider the debate on this to be useful. Last week, however, the federal government approved the delivery of Soviet-designed Mig-29 fighter jets from former East German stocks. Poland had submitted a corresponding application.
Hydrogen pipeline planned
The conversation also covered a hydrogen pipeline between Barcelona and Marseille through the Mediterranean Sea, which is intended to connect Spain, Portugal and France to the wider European network from 2030. Before the agreement was reached last October, the completion of the pipeline had failed for years due to opposition from Paris. The EU is expected to contribute to the project's estimated costs of around 2.5 billion euros. According to the Spanish government, around two million tons of hydrogen per year are to be transported through the tube.
Berlin's commitment played an "absolutely crucial" role in overcoming the problems that blocked construction of the Midcat gas pipeline across the Pyrenees for years, Costa said. "Creating a hydrogen-based green corridor will help strengthen Europe's energy autonomy." Portugal has already made initial investments for this project. The Portuguese head of government also acknowledged problems. "However, the fact that there was a decision against the dual use of the infrastructure for natural gas and for green hydrogen unfortunately delays the commissioning."
On Wednesday evening, Scholz wanted to take part in a celebratory dinner celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Portuguese Socialist Party, which was founded on April 19, 1973 by socialist Mario Soares and his comrades-in-arms in Bad Münstereifel. In addition to Costa and Scholz, former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González should also take part. Costa is Secretary General of the Socialists.