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Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado: Dialogues on Foreign Policy

With the aim of promoting a debate on Brazilian foreign policy and increasing interaction between Itamaraty and the society, I have decided to conduct a series of debates entitled "Diálogos sobre Política Externa" (Dialogues on Foreign Policy), that will take place at Itamaraty Palace, between February 26 and April 2. Today, I open the Dialogues with a session that gathers entities of the Federal Government and representatives from Congress and the Judiciary Branch.

Throughout the month of March until the beginning of April, the Dialogues will congregate members of the Government and the society, with the goal of discussing the more general lines of action, as well as specific topics within Brazil's foreign policy.

They will cover a wide range of subjects – from South-American integration to sustainable development, from trade promotion to energy geopolitics, and from the prospects of the new international governance to the public policies that benefit Brazilians abroad. In total, two general sessions and fourteen thematic panels will take place.

The meetings will be attended by participants from public entities, Congressmen, members of the Judiciary Branch, academics, journalists, entrepreneurs, unionists and representatives of social movements.

Apart from being a mechanism for deepening the discussions between the Government and the society on the role of Brazil in the world, the Dialogues on Foreign Policy will also constitute an instrument for writing a White Paper on Brazilian Foreign Policy by Itamaraty. The purpose of the White Paper will be to record and publicise principles, priorities and lines of action of foreign policy, as well as to stimulate public knowledge and oversight of the work done by the Ministry.

There is much talk over the inclinations of countries of continental dimensions, such as Brazil, towards self-sufficiency and introversion, but one of the most significant developments in Brazilian democracy has been the society's growing interest in matters related to foreign policy.

This progress takes place within the context of Brazil's projected image abroad, the widening of the international agenda and raising internal awareness of the relevance of international issues to the country's development.

I deem it essential that there is a greater involvement of the National Congress, the Judiciary Branch, other ministries and government agencies, universities, the press, social movements, the business community, unions and the general public in the issues of foreign policy. This will allow a broader and more diverse public debate, which benefits the Brazilian Government and Itamaraty in particular.

The pace of the transformations in the country and in the world has made it crucial for the Ministry of External Relations to renew its capability to listen to the interests of society, so as to better formulate and carry out Brazil's foreign policy, in accordance with the guidelines established by President Dilma Rousseff.

Itamaraty achieves its objectives in an active and inclusive manner fullfiling its duties as coordinator of the international action of the Brazilian Government.

I can only understand foreign policy as part of a broader project for national development and as a statement of the country's sovereignty in the world.

Both the Dialogues and the White Paper are part of an effort by Itamaraty for greater transparency in its activities and for strengthening the channels of interaction with the society, always with the aim of improving Brazil's international action and continuing to make foreign policy an effective instrument for development.

LUIZ ALBERTO FIGUEIREDO MACHADO, 58, is Minister of State for External Relations.

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