Portugal and Cote d’Ivoire have signed an agreement on naval cooperation, according to Portuguese Defense Minister Joao Gomes Cravinho.
The document, signed by the minister and his Ivorian counterpart Hamed Bakayoko, is the first defense agreement between Portugal and a non-Lusophone country. Neither of them is a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
The Portuguese minister said that the agreement is “a manifestation of the importance that Portugal attaches to Cote d’Ivoire in the field of defense,” describing it as “a historic moment.”
Portugal and Cote d’Ivoire have “common concerns about maritime safety in the Gulf of Guinea and, more broadly, the Atlantic,” added the Portuguese minister.
“We see this moment as a starting point for an intense relationship between Portugal and Cote d’Ivoire,” he said.
The agreement signed will enable the two sides “to make consultations at the institutional political level,” allow “a wide range of interactions” and help build a relationship “that until now has been only sporadic,” he said.
Bakayoko was “very satisfied” with the agreement, which will help Cote d’Ivoire “to overcome the challenges of the surveillance of its maritime sovereignty.”
“Cote d’Ivoire, like Portugal, has an important maritime border, and the challenges are well known. The fight against piracy, the preservation of our waters, the preservation of our maritime economic zone,” said the African official.
“We are very interested in taking advantage of the experience of Portugal, which has overcome major challenges in terms of maritime safety” and Atlantic surveillance, he added.
Bakayoko highlighted several points, such as sending Ivorian navy troops to Portugal for training, and sending Portuguese aid workers to Cote d’Ivoire, adding that this could also “materialize in the acquisition of military equipment and in monitoring and advising on the acquisition of ships.”