In an exclusive SBS interview, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva talks about how the country has handled austerity measures in the face of the backlash in wider Europe.
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27 May 2012 - 10:32 AM  UPDATED 26 Aug 2013 - 10:48 AM

In an exclusive SBS interview, Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva talks about how the country has handled austerity measures in the face of the backlash in wider Europe.

With an unemployment rate of just over 15 per cent and an economy expected to contract by 2.5 per cent this year, Portugal's economic woes mirror that of much of Europe.

It is however pushing ahead with tough austerity measures which have been applauded by European financial leaders.

Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva is on a whirlwind visit to Australia to strengthen economic ties with the region.

He spoke with SBS presenter and business reporter Ricardo Goncalves in this exclusive interview.

“Portugal has a tradition of complying with it's commitments," said Portuguese President Cavaco Silva.

"We normally manage to overcome the difficulties shorter than expected at the beginning. It's the Portuguese tradition," he said referring to economic policies and conditions imposed by the IMF in the 1970s and 1980s.

Talking about the Greek crisis, Mr Cavaco Silva said, “There is a big asset that we have, that the Greeks have not. It is the political and it's social consensus.”

He conceded Portugal would be swept up in the contagion if Greece left the eurozone, but did not think that a likely scenario.

"There is a possibility of contagion…but now there is a crucial firewall to create the condition to reduce the possibility of contagion," he said.

"I think Europe will resist the possibility...[of a Greek exit] I think it will be very very negative for the European people. And in fact the eurozone."