The President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, arrived in Portugal this Friday to start a five-day tour in which the European Union hopes to get closer after generating some diplomatic friction over his position on the war between Russia and Ukraine. This is Lula’s first trip to Europe since he returned to power at the beginning of the year, and after visiting five other countries, including the United States and China, with the aim of recovering Brazil’s presence on the international scene after isolationism of his predecessor, Jair Bolsonaro.
Political and commercial agenda
Lula, who after visiting Portugal will travel to Spain, promises to put his country back at the center of global geopolitics. “The trip is part of the reactivation of Brazil’s diplomatic relations with its main partnersas was the case with the visit to China ten days ago, after the United States, Argentina and Uruguay at the beginning of this government,” the Brazilian presidency stressed in a statement.
The 77-year-old former metal worker landed in Lisbon mid-morning on Friday, but the program for his state visit does not start until Saturday, with meetings with Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Socialist Prime Minister Antonio Costa.
Coinciding with the 13th Luso-Brazilian summit, the first in seven years, a dozen bilateral agreements will be signed, particularly in the fields of energy, science, education and tourism. This last point is key, since the Brazilian is the largest foreign community in Portugal, with more than 200 thousand people.
On Monday, after a meeting with businessmen in Porto, Lula will participate in the delivery of the Camoes Award, the highest distinction in Portuguese-speaking literature, which this time will be awarded to the famous Brazilian singer and author Chico Buarque.
Before flying to Madrid on Tuesday, the president will deliver a speech before the Portuguese Parliament during a session prior to the commemorations of the 49th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, which ended 48 years of dictatorship and 13 years of colonial wars in Africa. Lula’s presence in the house of Portuguese democracy on April 25 is not without controversy.
Although the left was in favor, the right left strong criticism both for Lula’s presence and for the fact that the invitation came from the Executive, when the organization of the solemn session is the responsibility of Parliament. Due to this discomfort, Lula will deliver a speech in a session organized on April 25, but outside of the official commemorations.
Controversy over Ukraine
Lula’s recent trip to Chinawith a stopover in the United Arab Emirates, was marked by his comments on the conflict in Ukraine, a thorny issue that will also be dealt with during his interview with the Portuguese head of government. Last Saturday Lula caused controversy during his stay in Beijing by asking that US to stop “fostering war” in Ukraine and? the European Union “start talking about peace”.
His statements were heavily criticized by Washington, which accused him of “echoing Russian and Chinese propaganda without regard to the facts.” Lula also reiterated that the responsibilities for the war unleashed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 are shared between the two countries.
Last Monday, Lula received Russian Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov in Brasilia, who thanked Brazil for its contribution in finding a solution to the conflict and “for its excellent understanding of the genesis of this situation.” However, the Brazilian president changed his tune on Tuesday, condemning Russia’s “violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”
The European Union said on Friday that it wants to speak directly with Brazilian government officials to make it clear that only Ukraine can decide the appropriate moment for a ceasefire with Russia. “We will talk to our Brazilian friends and tell them that this is not the time for that. The time is when Ukraine says it is time,” said a senior European community official.
The high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, hopes to meet with the special adviser for International Affairs of the Brazilian presidency, Celso Amorim, on April 25 in Bogotá, where he will go to participate in the meeting of foreign ministers promoted by the Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, to unblock the negotiations between the government and the opposition of Venezuela.
Amorim, a former foreign minister in Lula’s first term, recently visited Moscow, where he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. “There is no magic solution, but there will be a moment when a perception will emerge on one side or the other that the cost of war, not only political, but also human and economic, will be greater than that of peace concessions. “Amorim said after his trip to the Russian capital.
Next station, Spain
Lula’s tour will continue next Tuesday in Madrid, where the president plans to attend a seminar that will bring together Brazilian and Spanish businessmen. Also will meet with King Felipe VI and on Wednesday will be received by the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchezin the Moncloa Palace.
Both in Lisbon and Madrid Lula will seek to defend the progress of the negotiation for a free trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Unionwhich needs to be ratified by the parliaments of all countries, a process that stopped in 2019. “For Brazil, both Portugal and Spain are the natural doors to Europe,” said Lula, who did not participate this year in the Ibero-American Summit held last month in the Dominican Republic, to which he sent his foreign minister Mauro Vieira, and gave priority to other forums, such as the return of Brazil to Celac and Unasur.
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