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The challenge of “breaking mental barriers” to promote Mercosur and Unasur

Tuesday, November 23rd 2010 - 22:59 UTC
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Brazil’s Celso Amorim in a farewell speech reveals details of eight years as head of Itamaraty Brazil’s Celso Amorim in a farewell speech reveals details of eight years as head of Itamaraty

Brazil’s influential Foreign Affairs minister Celso Amorim revealed that his major obstacle in his eight years in the post was “breaking mental barriers” particularly in advancing relations among countries in the South and promoting such organizations as Mercosur and Unasur.

Amorim addressed Tuesday the International Labour Organization in Geneva and his words were interpreted as a farewell speech after having spent eight years running as the articulate Foreign affairs minister of President Lula da Silva who is stepping down next January first.

“When Mercosur was created many asked why are we loosing time with Argentina. The argument was that we should be promoting relations with the US and the European Union and not among poor countries. However nowadays nobody questions the significance of Mercosur and the same happened when we created Unasur (Union of South American Nations), why are we so concerned with South America?”

Amorim said “we still have a colonial mentality, and if we don’t break those mental barriers, we’ll never advance”.

The minister argued that cooperation among developing countries has been one of the main diplomacy engines of the Lula da Silva administration which has been crowned by international acknowledgement.

“And that was because we had no pre-concepts; when we started our relations with the Arab countries, true tectonic plates began moving”, said Amorim.

“When Lula da Silva began travelling to Africa, people would say he was loosing time and should concentrate in Washington, Brussels or Paris. There he went but he also went to Africa”, said the foreign secretary who recalled that the African continent has now become Brazil’s fourth leading trade partner.

Brazil always wanted to have a good relation with the North (developed countries), but “we didn’t establish cooperation with the South to confront the North”, he underlined.

But nevertheless he did criticize the concept of handing out foreign aid: “who ever hands out money, also gives orders. We must work to end with that idea of those who give and recipients. We are all partners”.

Amorim recalled that in the eight years of President Lula da Silva, United States lost its leading trade relation with Brazil. The main destination of Brazilian exports is now China, followed by neighbouring Argentina. “The US is in a very honourable third place” ending decades of predominance added the minister.

Finally Amorim said that the policy of the Lula da Silva administration has been dialogue with all countries to help with the improvement of human rights, which has been one of the main banners of Brazilian foreign policy these last eight years.

When asked specifically if he would continue with incoming president-elect Dilma Rousseff, Amorim confessed he didn’t know, “I can’t make comments relative to that. I don’t belong to any cabinet, but that which I manage, which I’m not building but rather dismantling”.
 

Categories: Politics, Brazil, Mercosur.

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