How was the meeting with ‘honours’ between Lula and Macron in Paris

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How was the meeting with ‘honours’ between Lula and Macron in Paris

In a period of troubled relations between Brazil and France, the French leader, Emmanuel Macron, disaffected by President Jair Bolsonaro, welcomed former President Lula on Wednesday (17) at the Élysée Palace with honors reserved for high-ranking personalities for discuss “absolutely fundamental” global issues, according to the French government.

Lula’s arrival at the seat of the French Presidency was attended by the republican guard, who marched and took up a position on the steps where Macron receives the guests.

This protocol is “systematic” to accommodate current and former heads of state, according to the staff at the Palácio do Elysée, as well as representatives of large international institutions, such as the United Nations, and high authorities.

At the meeting, which lasted little more than an hour, Macron and Lula discussed numerous global issues linked to Brazil, Latin America and the European Union, although Lula does not hold any public office.

Lula and Macron discussed issues “absolutely fundamental today,” said French government spokesman Gabriel Attal, citing the health crisis and its social impact, the climate transition and the fight against deforestation.

The French Presidency’s advisors also stated that Macron addressed global governance and the fight against inequalities.

On his Twitter profile, Lula said that he also spoke at the meeting about hunger and poverty, as well as integration with Latin America.

Relations between the two countries and between Brazil and the European Union were also part of the discussions.

award

The meeting at the Élysée Palace had great repercussions in the French press, which highlighted that the visit to Macron preceded Lula’s meeting with Jean-Luc Mélenchon, president of França Insubmissa, a radical left party, and candidate for the presidential elections next April year.

This Tuesday (16), Lula had already met the mayor of Paris, socialist Anne Hidalgo, who is also a presidential candidate. Macron, for his part, has yet to declare his candidacy for the election, which is expected.

Before meeting Macron, Lula received the “political courage” award given by the prestigious Political International magazine.

Since the creation of the magazine, more than 40 years ago, this is the fourth time this award has been held.

Previous winners were former presidents of Egypt, Anuar Sadat, and former presidents of South Africa, Frederik de Klerk, and Pope John Paul II.

According to the publication’s founder and director, Patrick Wasjman, the award was given for Lula’s achievements throughout his two terms, particularly in relation to reducing poverty and combating racial inequality, and also for the “hope” he would represent for a part of the Brazilians, “disappointed” by the Presidency of Jair Bolsonaro.

Wasjman told BBC News Brasil that internal Brazilian issues were not part of the selection criteria for the award.

‘Extraordinary Partners’

At the award event, several French politicians were present, mainly from the Republican right, the party of former presidents Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, who governed France at the time Lula was president.

“Chirac and Sarkozy were two extraordinary partners for Brazil,” Lula said during the awards ceremony. “I can say that I owe the international respectability I acquired to the good relationship I had with France,” Lula added.

The former Brazilian president also said he hopes “that Macron will be another extraordinary partner when Brazil has a president who knows how to be president.”

In a press conference on Wednesday, which was attended by several French journalists, Lula said that he is not seeking international political support for an eventual presidential candidacy.

According to Lula, the objective of his tour of Europe is “to restore Brazil’s credibility abroad and show that the country is infinitely better than the current government”.

According to the spokesman for the French government, the internal dispute in Brazil “has nothing to do with Lula’s visit”. Attal added that there would be no French interference in the Brazilian political debate.

Recently, President Macron declared that relations between France and Brazil “have already been better”.

relationship shaken

Macron and Lula’s friendly relationship contrasts with that of the French president and Bolsonaro. Since 2019, the two leaders have been exchanging barbs.

In that year, when the burnings in the Amazon occupied the international news, Macron publicly criticized the Brazilian government and introduced the topic at a meeting of the G7, the group of the richest economies in the world, based in France.

Bolsonaro and his team saw the gesture as an affront to sovereignty. O deputado federal Eduardo Bolsonaro (PSL-SP) chegou a publicar um vídeo no Twitter em que chamava Macron de “idiota”. The then Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, called him an “opportunistic bastard” also on the same social network.

The French president, even before the election of Bolsonaro, had already warned that, without an environmental commitment on the part of Brazil, there would not be a trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.

The tone of Macron’s criticisms of Brazilian environmental policy has risen in recent months. The French government even announced a plan to encourage soy production in France, as a way of not encouraging deforestation in the Amazon.

There was also the episode in which Bolsonaro canceled at the last minute a meeting with the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, in Brasília, and went to have his hair cut. Behind the scenes of French diplomacy, it is said that Le Drian was relieved at the cancellation of the meeting, avoiding posing for a photo with Bolsonaro.

Another friction between the two leaders, which shocked France, was when Bolsonaro endorsed a comment from a supporter that mocked the physical appearance of the French First Lady, Brigitte, 66.

Macron responded at the time, saying he hoped that Brazil would quickly have a president “up to” the position. “What can I tell them [povo brasileiro]? It’s sad, it’s sad. But it is sad above all for him and for Brazilians,” declared the French president. “I think that Brazilian women, without a doubt, are ashamed to read this from their president.”

In January of this year, in a live broadcast on Facebook, Bolsonaro said that Macron keeps giving “bitaco” and talks “nonsense” about Brazilian environmental policy.

“He doesn’t even know his country, he keeps making fun of it here in Brazil. This is their politics,” he said.

Lula, on the other hand, maintained a friendly relationship with the two presidents who occupied the Eliseu Palace during the period in which he governed Brazil (2003-2010): Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy. And his visit to Macron could continue the good relations he has with the French government.

The next leg of Lula’s trip is Spain. This Thursday (18th), a meeting is scheduled with the Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sánchez.

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