Seminar „A New Era in Brazil’s Foreign Policy”, 10 May 2019
On 10th of May 2019 the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM) hosted Brazil’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Henrique Fraga Araújo at the seminar “A New Era in Brazil’s Foreign Policy”. The event was organized in cooperation with the Embassy of Brazil in Poland and led by the director of PISM, Sławomir Dębski.
The seminar started with an introductory speech by Ernesto Araújo in which he mostly explained the premises of the policy implemented by the government of the president Jair Bolsonaro who has been in power since January 2019.
The guest stated that the Western countries had made a mistake of basing the new post-Cold War order on trade relations. In his view, that choice led to decreasing importance of nations and favoured the primacy of markets. He was critical of the “post-Christian world” concepts and underlined that there is a need for a return to the roots by referring to the Judeo-Christian heritage. Minister Araújo emphasized that globalisation processes had led to the emergence of a “metaphysical desert” where there is no space for nations to decide on themselves. He argued that we are witnessing a global “revolt against the world deprived of philosophy”, and that Brazil and Poland are the countries at the forefront of these actions.
When referring to foreign policy, Ernesto Araújo claimed that the previous Brazilian governments had been wrong in defining this policy based on the lowest common denominator – the trade. In his view the idea was to develop relations with various countries irrespective of the form and policies of their governments. The guest stated that there is a need for a new approach which is most visibly represented by Brazil’s position and actions undertaken to restore democratic order in Venezuela.
Minister Araújo highlighted that it is the goal of Brazil to rebuild the world order and gain the status of a global player who is aware of the responsibility stemming from this role. In order to meet that goal, Bolsonaro’s government has decided to partner with key countries of the West to which Brazil has always belonged. That is why the country wants to intensify its relations with the United States and Israel, join the OECD and cooperate closely with NATO (potential Brazil’s membership in the Alliance is also considered).
The second part of the seminar featured a discussion between the director of PISM and minister Araújo. The first issue addressed the Brazilian view on the global order in the context of Brazil’s membership in the BRICS. The guest claimed that previous governments had engaged in the group on the base of a wrong assessment that the emergence of a post-Western global order was inevitable. BRICS was aimed to support that process and become an alternative to the West. The current government sees the bloc as a tool of cooperation in some areas . This year Brazil presides the work of BRICS and focuses on innovations. The minister added he did not believe that engaging in BRICS and a potential integration with NATO were contradictory.
Assessing the state of integration processes Araújo claimed that Europe’s integration had gone too far, because it resulted in replacing the national identity with the European one. He pointed out that one of the results of this process were calls in some EU member states to restore their national sovereignty. He added that in South America this problem did not emerge because integration initiatives there were not aimed to strive for a supranational authority. The guest highlighted that Brazil engaged in the reconstruction efforts of regional cooperation which resulted in creating PROSUR. The new bloc – founded in March by a group of democratic South American countries – will serve to coordinate existing integration initiatives, e.g. attempts for closer cooperation between Mercosur and the Pacific Alliance.
Asked about the references to the Monroe Doctrine made by John Bolton (president Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser) in the context of Venezuelan crisis, minister Araújo did not see any reason for concerns. He rather highlighted that Brazil and the U.S. shared the view that South America should be the area of freedom and democracy. He added that Brazil itself treats South America as its sphere of influence, and closer relations with the U.S. are also aimed at shaping a proper cooperation in the region.
The last question referred to the Brazilian government’s position on Russia’s policy towards Venezuela and Ukraine. Minister Araújo emphasized that his country aimed to maintain good relationships with both Russian and Ukrainian authorities. He added that Brazil recognized Russia’s legitimate interest in Venezuela resulting from close economic ties between the countries. Brazilian diplomacy has been rather trying to convince its Russian partners that what Venezuela needs is a democratic solution. The guest did not want to assess Russian policy towards Ukraine explaining that Brazil was focused on its own region and has been exploring and trying to understand the positions of various partners, including those in the Visegrad Group. He said Brazil wanted to actively participate in international relations and be part of the solutions. The example of this is the minister’s participation in the Middle East conference held in Warsaw in February 2019.
Responding to questions from the audience, the minister addressed the government’s position on Brazilian of African origin and the country’s relations with its partners in Africa, and the impact of European integration on the national identity in the EU member states.
After the seminar the director of PISM interviewed minister Araújo for “PISM on Air” podcast. The recording is available at:
Author: Bartłomiej Znojek