RIO DE JANEIRO – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said Wednesday that the priorities of her foreign policy is the integration of South America and closer relations with emerging nations like China, India and Russia, while at the same time maintaining “constructive relations” with the United States and Europe.
“South America will continue to be the top foreign-policy priority of my government. I made that priority clear by choosing Argentina for my first trip abroad,” Rousseff said in her speech at a Diplomat Day ceremony.
“There is no room for the strife and rivalries that separated us in the past. The countries of the continent have become valuable economic and political partners of Brazil,” said the president, who took office on Jan. 1 replacing her mentor, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.
Unlike other countries battered by the world economic crisis, those in South America had an average economic growth last year of 7.2 percent and became a “dynamic pole of world growth,” she said.
“Today, as we commemorate 20 years since the signing of the Treaty of Asuncion that created Mercosur, we have much to celebrate. In that period, trade within the bloc surged from $4.3 billion to $44 billion,” she said.
She said that the four original partners of Mercosur – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – stand out as the five economies in Latin America that grew the most last year.
She said another priority for Brazil are its relations with emerging nations of the group known as BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – in whose name she attended last week’s summit in China.
She said she used the gathering to send a “clear message to our strategic partners: we not only want to expand trade but also to diversify it. We’re not ashamed to be a big exporters of raw materials but we want to expand our value-added exports.”
At the same time, Rousseff said that Brazil will not give up its already good relations with the United States and Europe.
In that regard she hoped that U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Brazil will serve to invigorate bilateral relations and give them an added dose of pragmatism.
Rousseff also used the speech to repeat Brazil’s long-standing demand for a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
“Reforming the U.N. Security Council is not a whim of Brazil. It reflects the need to adjust this important instrument to the correlation of forces of the 21st century. The big decisions have to be taken by organizations that are more representative and consequently more legitimate,” she said.
The council currently has five permanent members – the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, each with veto power – and 10 rotating seats apportioned by region. EFE