Brazil President Lula da Silva in what seemed very much as a farewell ceremony, paid tribute to the excellent relations with Spain and special links with Argentina on being honoured with a prize that underlines economic development and social cohesion.
During a Tuesday ceremony in Madrid at the end of the EU/Latam-Caribbean leaders’ summit Lula da Silva who steps down from office at the end of the year, was awarded the New Economy Forum Prize 2010 and was praised by Argentine president Cristina Kirchner, Spain’s Vice president Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega and the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.
In his speech Lula da Silva pointed out that “people talking, understand each other, that is why I went to Iran” in reference to the role he played together with Turkey in helping find a way out to the nuclear problem with the Teheran regime.
As to the financial crisis, the Brazilian president said that “too many are paying for the excesses of a very few” and called for a reform of the international financial system and a reduction in the inequalities between countries.
“I feel very much at home in Spain, I have great friends”, and recalled that in the eighties he had a ‘brief but significant’ meeting with then Spanish president Adolfo Suárez, who was not a man of the left but certainly a “true and convinced democrat”.
In 1989 when Lula da Silva first ran for president he was grateful to former Socialist president Felipe González who received him at Government house.
The Brazilian leader also praised current president Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, whom he met during the awards of the Prince of Asturicas Prizes and finally had a special acknowledgement for the Spanish trade unions, Comisiones Obreras and CGT, as well as Spanish businessmen with whom he has “extraordinary relations”.
He then went on to praise Argentine president Cristina Kirchner for the “good harmony” that the two countries have been building since the administration of former president Nestor Kirchner, be it not “for minor differences in football”.
Mrs. Kirchner had previously mentioned that “it was probably the first time in 200 years of history that an Argentine president was participating of an honour ceremony for a Brazilian president” in reference to the long rivalry and historic dispute between the two powerful neighbours for leadership in the region.
Spain’s Vice-president Fernandez de la Vega underlined Lula da Silva’s commitment to fighting poverty and in favour of economic development, turning hopes into reality which is “what he has offered the 200 million Brazilians that can be proud of the outstanding position their country occupies in world politics plus the fact it exercises a clear leadership in solidarity”.
“In the long years of his political and union leader experience President Lula da Silva always has shown that with will, determination, work, justice is possible, progress is possible, peace is possible, building countries is possible, building more fair, more cohesive societies is possible at the same time more confident in themselves and in progress”, added the Spanish official.
The EC president Barroso said Lula da Silva was “undoubtedly a statesman, a great statesman and thanks to his personality and dedication has made Brazil an influential player in world affairs”.