Inauguration speech by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Carlos Alberto Franco França – Brasília, April 6, 2021
Mr. Jair Bolsonaro, President of the Republic;
Mr. Hamilton Mourão, Vice-President of the Republic;
Minister Head of the Civil House, General Eduardo Ramos, on whose behalf I greet the ministers present here;
Ambassador Ernesto Araújo, whom I am honored to succeed today; and
Dear Counsellor Maria Eduarda de Seixas Corrêa, my classmate.
I would also like to make note of some friends who have helped me along this path: Squadron Admiral Flávio Rocha and all of his team of international advisors; Dr. Célio Faria Junior, Head of the Department of Personnel; and Dr. Pedro Cesar Sousa, Deputy Head of Legal Matters, whose devotion to his work and loyalty to the President of the Republic serve as guidance to me.
I also mention, as I could not neglect doing, the presence of my children, Antônio and Ana Clara, and of my sisters, Rita and Andréa.
I begin by thanking the President of the Republic for the trust he has placed in me. Your Excellency knows that you will continue to count on my full commitment.
I thank my predecessor, Ambassador Ernesto Araújo, for his support during the transition.
This is a time of urgency. And President Bolsonaro has instructed me to face it. This is our most immediate mission.
I emphasize three of them here: the urgency of health, the urgency of the economy, and the urgency of sustainable development.
The first urgency is to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We all know that this is a task that goes beyond a purely governmental view. And that, within the government, it is also up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Ministry of Health.
The Brazilian diplomatic missions and consulates abroad will be increasingly engaged in a true health diplomacy. In different parts of the world, contacts with governments and laboratories will increase in order to map the vaccines available. The consultations with governments and pharmaceutical companies will be increasing, in the search for the necessary medicines for the treatment of patients in a more serious condition. These are contributions from the external front that we can and must bring to the internal effort to fight the pandemic. Contributions that are not enough in and of themselves, but that can be decisive.
My commitment is with the intensification and greater articulation of the ongoing actions. Greater articulation within the scope of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; greater articulation with other public bodies, such as the National Congress. This will increase the chances that our diplomatic work translates into results for the lives of Brazilians.
My commitment, in short, is to engage Brazil in an intense international cooperation effort, without exclusions. And to open new paths for diplomatic action, without preferences of this or that nature.
At the World Trade Organization, for example, we are working on an initiative on Trade and Health. And we welcome the statements by the new Director-General about the need for a broad consensus to ensure access to vaccines, with larger production and better distribution.
The task is not simple. No one is unaware that there is a shortage of medical supplies in the world today. But I assure you that our diplomatic resources will remain mobilized to meet the demands of health authorities.
A second urgency is economic. As President Bolsonaro teaches, Brazilians want vaccines and they want jobs. And to grow and generate more jobs, the agenda of modernizing the economy is fundamental. This is not a strictly domestic agenda, however crucial may be—and they are—the reforms that the President of the Republic promotes here.
There is no modernization without more trade and investment, without more and better integration into global value chains—hence the significance of our trade negotiation agenda. There can be no modernization without exposing the country to the highest standards of public policy—which is why our increasingly close relationship with the OECD is so important. There can be no modernization without opening up to the world—and, for this reason, our foreign policy has a universalist meaning, always guided by the protection of our legitimate interests.
Finally, we have the climate urgency. It is an urgency on another time scale—but it is an urgency.
Here, as in other areas, we see before us the opportunity to keep Brazil at the forefront of sustainable, clean development.
We have a predominantly renewable energy matrix to show the world. An electricity sector that, three times cleaner than the world average, can already be considered low carbon.
We have on display an agricultural production that, besides being able to feed the planet, has the mark of sustainability. Forty years of investments in science have allowed us to produce more with relatively less land and with better use of the soil. Those who import food from Brazil, President Bolsonaro, are importing technology.
And we have on display an environmental legislation—the Forest Code—which is one of the most rigorous in the world. Or a Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement, which is one of the most ambitious among developing countries.
It is not a question of denying the challenges, which obviously persist. The fact is that Brazil, in terms of sustainable development, is in the column of solutions.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Dialogue is essential in responding to all these emergencies: health, economic, and environmental.
Brazil has always been a relevant player in the broad space of multilateral dialogue. This does not mean, of course, adhering to each and every attempt at consensus that emerges, at the United Nations or elsewhere.
It does not have to be that way and it cannot be that way. What guides us, first of all, are our values and interests. In the name of these values and interests, we will continue to bet on dialogue as a diplomatic method. A method that opens possibilities for arrangements and convergences that we have always known how to exploit in our favor. A well-worked-out multilateral consensus is also an expression of national sovereignty.
Another place where dialogue holds sway is in our neighborhood. Brazil's nuclear agreements with Argentina, for example, which are now more than three decades old, are a symbol of the predominance of cooperation over rivalry. MERCOSUR, which is also three decades old, represents a constructive stage of integration with our neighbors. And it is necessary to go further, opening new opportunities.
It will not be enough to talk to other countries. This is the minimum; it is the soul of our business.
In the face of the urgencies that we are called upon to face, and in dealing with so many other issues, I will also keep channels open within our country—with my colleagues on the Esplanade of the Ministries, with the branches of the Republic, with the productive sectors, with society. These are indispensable channels, even in the solution of pending administrative issues that legitimately afflict the members of the Brazilian foreign service.
This is how I learned, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to understand the diplomat’s job: a bridge-builder.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I also learned that foreign policy is a public policy that, as such, must serve the priorities of Brazilians. I am committed to relentlessly seeking an accurate understanding of the challenges of the moment and to listening to the demands of society.
I have in mind the work of the Baron of Rio Branco, who knew so well how to promote, in the circumstances of his time, the interplay between openness to the world, the defense of peace and law, and the strengthening of our sovereignty.
It is this line of continuity that it is up to us to update with each generation. And it is in this spirit that I assume the duties with which you have distinguished me, President Jair Bolsonaro.
I think of colleagues from different generations with whom I have had the privilege of working—people of high training and genuine devotion to Brazil. I think of former bosses from whom I have learned so much and to whom I owe so much. This is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that now falls to me, with honor, to lead. Be assured that you will have the best of me.
I do not underestimate, Mr. President, the dimension of the challenges, but our collective will to get it right is greater.
Thank you very much.