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Chancellor of France expresses support for Brazil in the OECD, but signals disagreements over Russia


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After the years of tension between Brazil and France during the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government, French Chancellor Catherine Colonna arrived in Brazil this Tuesday (7) to restore ties between the countries.

“This is the first step towards rekindling our strategic partnership,” he said via email to Sheet Colonna, which is preparing President Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Brasilia, scheduled for the coming weeks.

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The minister celebrated the signals given by the current government in relation to environmental policy and stated that France supports Brazil’s accession to the OECD (Organization for Cooperation and Development) – the European country had reservations due to the increase in deforestation and illegal mining during the Bolsonaro government.

But Colonna, who will be received by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) this Wednesday (8) and will meet with Chancellor Mauro Vieira and Minister Marina Silva (Environment), signaled that France differs from Brazil in this regard. of the Ukrainian War. Lula denied the request of the German premier, Olaf Scholz, to send ammunition to Ukraine and reinforced the view that Brazil will not take sides, even if it condemns Russian aggression.

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Relations between France and Brazil went through moments of tension. Bolsonaro canceled a meeting with the then French Chancellor, Jean-Yves Le Drian, and went to make a video cutting his hair. France has criticized Brazil’s environmental policy and the rise in fires and deforestation in the Amazon. The country said it would not support Brazil’s entry into the OECD if there was no progress in combating deforestation. What do you expect from the relations between France and Brazil in the government Squid? France and Brazil have a history of deep ties that go back centuries. France shares its longest border with Brazil, 730 km along French Guiana. For 15 years, we have been united by an ambitious strategic partnership, from the transfer of high military technology to linguistic cooperation. These ties have remained strong even in recent years. Brazil is our main economic partner in the region, and French companies are the largest foreign employers in Brazil.

Now is the time to take this cooperation a step further, in a new context. Our president has clearly expressed his support for the democratically elected government of Brazil. Presidents Macron and Lula have already been in contact twice since the election, in October. My visit to Brazil is the first step towards rekindling our strategic partnership. The two presidents should also meet soon to advance cooperation projects. We share important challenges and high ambitions for effective multilateralism, international security and environmental protection. We hope to further strengthen our economic ties, also targeting Brazil’s accession to the OECD, which we support. Brazil is one of the main global players. The country’s return to the global stage is strongly expected.

The Lula government announced that it is working on a regulation for internet platforms and that the Digital Services Act (DSA, the European Digital Services Law) is one of the inspirations. The legislation intends to make platforms responsible for the dissemination of content that violates the Democratic State Law and incites insurrection and coup. But portions of civil society and business see risks to freedom of expression. How does France see platform immunity? We face similar challenges in France and Europe. Our approach is very clear: what is not allowed offline must not be allowed online. The Ukrainian War and the pandemic have given rise to aggressive disinformation campaigns, in part made possible by the lack of regulation of social media. This is a direct and serious threat to democracy. France and the European Union defend a vision of a democratic and regulated Internet, with respect for human rights and fundamental values. The DSA was an important milestone in the effort to stop the internet from continuing to be a lawless jungle.

Macron pledged “firm support” to Ukraine “until victory”. What can Brazil do to help resolve the conflict in Ukraine? Let me be very clear: there is a country that has been attacked, Ukraine, and an aggressor, Russia. By waging an illegal war against a sovereign and independent country, Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has deliberately violated the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. By deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure, Russia is committing war crimes. It is our responsibility to ensure that these crimes do not go unpunished.

Brazil has always been a strong defender of international law. The country has already expressed at the UN its repudiation of Russia’s flagrant violation of the integrity of a sovereign country. We are side by side on this issue. The breadth of support for Ukraine is growing, as demonstrated by countries from all continents who attended the Paris conference on December 13th and pledged more than €1 billion in aid to Ukraine. [A guerra] it concerns us all. The food crisis and threats to energy security are hitting us hard. In this sense, France and Brazil share the concern with the impact of war on the most vulnerable populations. France promoted initiatives to lessen the impacts of war, especially in food security. I recently accompanied the delivery of 50 thousand tons of wheat to Ethiopia and Somalia, aid financed by France and Germany.

Lula stated that he wants to conclude the EU-Mercosur agreement in six months. It’s possible? Our position is clear: some Member States, including France, asked for clear guarantees regarding the impact of the agreement on the environment. These demands are in line with the approach advocated by the EU and France towards sustainable trade and development, respecting our international social and environmental commitments. We want our partners to follow the same rules that we do. Trade agreements for the 21st century need to reflect today’s challenges. We welcome the Lula government’s ambitions to comply with international norms regarding deforestation, the Paris Agreement targets and food safety rules. In dialogue with Mercosur and Brazil, the EU will analyze how the EU-Mercosur agreement provides the necessary guarantees. This will benefit everyone.

Germany announced a package of R$ 1.1 billion for sustainable development and combating deforestation in Brazil. How can France cooperate in preserving the Amazon? The protection of the Amazon rainforest is of enormous importance to France and Brazil, with full respect for our sovereignties. We need to identify new models to preserve the forest and guarantee the sustainable development of local communities, in addition to resources to combat illegal mining, deforestation and organized crime. During my visit, I hope to speak with Minister Marina Silva to identify opportunities and make our agendas converge. The Amazon Summit to be held by Brazil and Colombia in a few months will be essential to define strategies.

France, which is also an Amazonian country, is ready to cooperate with its partners in this area. The current Brazilian government has shown strong signs of its commitment to reverse the current trend of illegal deforestation in the Amazon and other biomes. We are convinced that Brazil has all the necessary instruments to make a positive contribution to this essential agenda and become a global green power. We support Brazil’s bid to host COP30 in 2025.

Brazil faced a coup attempt on January 8. How should countries deal with the rise of right-wing extremism? After the attacks in Brasilia, France reaffirmed its unconditional support for Brazil and Lula in the face of any attempt to threaten democratic processes. Macron also stressed that our country is determined to uphold the universal values ​​of democracy and develop more democratic tools to fight disinformation. Today we face what Macron calls “hybrid wars”, which support “competing universalisms”. We stand ready to work with the Brazilian authorities to establish cooperation and regular dialogue on best practices to strengthen democracy and protect freedom of expression, the press and reliable information.

We cannot be naive about the alternative model that some powers, like Russia, try to promote. This agenda aims to undermine democracy and destabilize countries. We firmly believe that the universality established in the UN Charter and in declarations of human rights is the only guarantee of sovereignty and fundamental rights. There is no doubt that it is necessary to improve the multilateral system in order to have more efficiency and legitimacy. France has long advocated for Brazil to have a seat on the UN Security Council.

X-ray | Catherine Colonna, 67

Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, graduated from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris and the National School of Administration. She was Spokesperson for the Presidency of the Republic from 1995 to 2004, Ambassador to Italy from 2014 to 2017, Permanent Representative to the OECD from 2017 to 2019 and Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 2019 to 2022.

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