India and Brazil are expected to sign a number of agreements including a Strategic Partnership action plan and a Bilateral Investment Treaty when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday. In a written interview, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo, who is part of the delegation, says the two countries share more than a common worldview; their leaders share values on nationalism and sovereignty as well.
What are your hopes and expectations from the visit of President Bolsonaro to India as the Chief Guest for Republic Day?
Brazil considers India one of the main partners in our new international strategy and in our new foreign policy as a whole. Our countries share common values. Brazil and India are two of the biggest democracies in the world. There is also a convergence between our worldview and that of Prime Minister Modi, that you should build a nation true to its values and traditions, proud of itself.
We think that this is the basis for a thriving economy. Many people around the world think that there is an incompatibility between having an efficient, liberal and productive economy, and being a nation true to its values, an organic nation. We believe the opposite; we believe that these things are compatible.
India and Brazil have shared some common foreign policy postures: on strategic autonomy, on the reform of the UNSC, a balance with the U.S., distance from China’s BRI etc. Is it time for a common platform projecting a more ‘South-South centric’ worldview?
I would not exactly call it a “South-South centric” worldview. We believe that through a more profound relationship, our countries may leverage their positions in all international fora, in the United Nations and the Security Council as well as in many other instances. An excellent relationship with the U.S. — a situation India has attained as well — is crucial for the international projection we aspire for Brazil.
Previous doctrines in our foreign policy envisaged an international projection for Brazil in opposition to the United States or disregarding the role the U.S. could play in our partnership. We have changed that approach.
We are also deepening our relations with China, a very important partner for the Brazilian economy, above all as a market for our agricultural exports. Regarding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), we believe that the great extent of valuable Chinese investments in Brazil do not need to bind us to a comprehensive framework such as the BRI in order to maintain a fruitful relation with China.
Both Mr. Bolsonaro and Mr. Modi have come under some international criticism for religious politics and their ‘nationalistic’ views….
President Bolsonaro and Prime Minister Modi share a close standpoint with regard to sovereignty and their idea of nation. Both leaders have appraised the concept of nationality. I believe those common values create an even more fertile soil for what we can do along with India, in a way we have never accomplished before. This official visit is the first step towards that aim: we have the opportunity to sign an unprecedented number of agreements — not only in quantity but also in quality — in many different fields. We can also feel the enthusiasm on both sides about our cooperation and particularly regarding the Action Plan to strengthen the Strategic Partnership.
One point of divergence has been the situation in Venezuela, where New Delhi and Brasilia recognise different governments. During the visit, would your government hope to convince the Indian government to withdraw support for President Maduro?
The Brazilian government expects to exchange views with the Indian authorities on each country’s regional scenario. It is not our intention to persuade India to address this issue in one way or another. We just expect India to look at the situation with new eyes. Because the population faces a despotic regime of the worst kind that has deliberately wrecked the country’s economy and institutions.
Brazil believes there is hope to restore democracy in Venezuela and stop the current genocide of its population, through the legitimate government of (Opposition candidate) President Juan Guaidó.
You have been publicly skeptical of climate science, particularly in the context of last year’s Amazon fires. What kind of discussions do you hope to have on climate change negotiations with India?
President Bolsonaro himself, other Brazilian authorities and I have tried to demonstrate that the image initially portrayed by certain leaders was not accurate. One has to bear in mind that the environmental portfolio, particularly the alleged deforestation of the Amazon, unfortunately conceals hidden agendas of certain governments and several NGOs which are detrimental to the Brazilian agribusiness, whose competitiveness and commitment to sustainability stand beyond doubt for all to see.
In a democracy, we have to discuss and scrutinize all scientific approaches to each issue, and there are several experts that present reasonable doubts about man-made global warming. They should be heard, not demonised. That course of action does not mean disregarding international commitments. President Bolsonaro has vowed to keep Brazilian multilateral participation in this pivotal area. Brazil, as India, is a major player in environmental issues