Brazil foreign minister: Ties with Portugal are a ‘priority’

  • Lusa
  • 2 July 2021

During a three-day visit to Portugal, the Brazilian foreign minister, Carlos França, announced that the country "is a priority" for the South American giant.

Brazil’s foreign minister, Carlos França, has said that Portugal “is a priority” for the South American giant and former colony, adding that during his three-day visit to the country, which began on Wednesday, he is encouraging businesses to invest in Brazil, particularly in the energy sector.

“This is the first visit I have made outside Brazil” as foreign minister, França told Lusa in an interview. “And the fact that it is to Portugal – still during the term of its Portuguese presidency of the European Council [which ended on June 30] is very significant.

“I came to gather impressions and thank the Portuguese government for its support for the Mercosur-European Union agreement, currently being examined by the European Council and the European Parliament,” he said.

But “the big news” that he said he would take away from his visit was the fact that Portugal and Brazil “are strengthening” ties.

“President Jair Bolsonaro’s foreign policy did not start with me and will not end with me,” França pointed out. “As I said in my inauguration speech, foreign policy is a line of continuity, which is 200 years old, and which it is up to each generation of diplomats to update. In this updating, Portugal is a priority for us.”

Expressing his thanks for “the honour of having been received by the president of the Portuguese Republic,” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, on the first day of his visit to Portugal, França said that he had “great expectations” for the meeting scheduled fo Friday, the last day of his visit, with Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs, Augusto Santos Silva.

“We can strengthen our bilateral relations here and reinforce traditional ties of action,” he said.

In addition to his meetings with the president, with the minister for environment, João Matos Fernandes, with the executive secretary of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, Francisco Ribeiro Telles, França also sought to boost foreign direct investment in his country, meeting local companies, telling them about recent changes in Brazil’s economy and encouraging them to invest there.

“There are two areas that fit into the environmental agenda and the energy agenda, which are investment in green hydrogen, because Brazil is naturally suited to that, and also advanced biofuels, which could be used for aviation,” he said, adding that “Portugal is a key partner for Brazil in Europe and has been a great supporter of Brazil’s positions.

“It is more than that, it has been a concrete partner, not only in Portuguese investments there, but, for example, in the partnership with Embraer, a Brazilian company based in Évora [in Portugal’s Alentejo region], in the joint development of aircraft, which are a success,” he noted.

As for Africa, he said that “without a doubt” it was another focus of Brazil’s foreign policy, particularly Mozambique and Angola – both also former colonies of Portugal and, like Brazil, members of the Community of Portuguese-Langugae Countries (CPLP).

“The first contacts I made were with the [foreign minister] of Mozambique and I am also in contact with the [foreign minister] of Angola,” he said, adding that during his coming trip to Luanda for next month’s summit of heads of state and government of the CPLP, he planned “also to make contacts with the local government.

In relation to Mozambique, he stressed cooperation, noting that Brazil wants this country “to be, along with Paraguay” among the first to receive doses of vaccines against Covid-19 from Fiocruz, the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, produced in Brazil with foreign technology .

“And we are also very interested in cooperating with Mozambique on the issue of Cabo Delgado,” he stressed, referring to the violence that has swept that province, saying that Brazil could offer “training, technical assistance and control” including at sea.

“I understand that the Brazilian navy can contribute there in strengthening, contribute, because the decision and control is all Mozambican,” he said. “But I think Brazil can cooperate.”

Armed groups have terrorised Cabo Delgado since 2017, with responsibility for some attacks claimed by a local affiliate of Islamic State, in a wave of violence that has claimed more than 2,800 lives, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and displaced 732,000 people, according to the United Nations.