Brazil’s new Defence minister Celso Amorim said he plans closer links with Unasur (Union of South American Nations) and Africa to ensure the South Atlantic turns into a peace zone free of weapons of mass destruction.
“We want to revalue the Unasur South American Defence Council and increase cooperation with the rest of countries of the region. We also want closer links with African countries and turn the South Atlantic into a zone of peace and free of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear arms”, said Amorim on taking the oath as Defence minister.
“The South Atlantic and its resources is a zone we share with African countries, and we want to make sure it remains an area of peace to the benefit of our peoples”.
Amorim replaces Nelson Jobim a much respected figure above partisan politics but who made some demeaning comments about some colleague ministers.
The new minister promised to follow the same political line in Defence and anticipated he would act with a “critical spirit” and ready to apply the necessary adjustments although well aware of the budget restrictions.
Amorim admitted that the Brazilian Armed Forces lack of funds still limit its “dissuasive effect” on potential enemies that could be interested in the country’s riches such as oil, water and the Amazon basin.
“You can’t confound a peaceful country with one unarmed and defenceless. We have enormous riches and great infrastructure dimension, and it is the duty of the State to watch over the borders and protect our natural resources”, said Amorim, who was Foreign Affairs for eight years with former president Lula da Silva.
The new minister also said he was committed to beef up the Brazilian defence industry and renew its technology, essential for developing the dissuasive effect.
President Dilma Rousseff revealed in her speech that she picked Amorim because she was certain he would imprint “speed and solidity” to Brazil’s defence strategy. The President also praised the “discipline and respect for hierarchies” that Amorim has always displayed in his two periods as Foreign Secretary, from 1993 to 1995 and from 2003 to 2010.
“Brazil has become a protagonist with a strong voice in international forums and is convinced of its won destiny. Amorim is ready and well trained for this new phase in which Brazil marches with head upright, very much aware of its sovereignty and resources”, said Dilma Rousseff.
The president also recalled that during her mandate Amorim will have to face several strategic issues such as negotiations for the purchase of military equipment and defence technology.