In New Delhi for the India-Brazil Joint Commission meeting with his counterpart External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Brazil’s foreign minister Mauro Vieira told The Hindu that the strategic partnership between India and Brazil will benefit from a new round of priorities in the fast changing global order. Defence cooperation, joint training of the armed forces, nuclear cooperation, multilateral collaboration are some of the areas that can energise India-Brazil strategic partnership that was inked in 2006. In an exclusive interview to The Hindu, Mr Vieira said that Brazil firmly believes in a peaceful global order and will work toward enforcing peace and stability with other emerging countries like India. Excerpts:
Q: What are your thoughts about the rights of refugees and immigrants following the Paris terror attacks?
A: Brazil is a country of immigrants. Our country has been built by the inflow of a wide variety of immigrants from Europe, from the Arab world, and from Africa. Jews and Japanese live side by side with 14 million Arabs who migrated to Brazil over the last century. All the immigrants contributed to the Brazilian society and its development. We welcomed immigrants. We are against terrorism but in the 21st century century, no country is beyond the reach of a determined terrorist. But in Brazil we have an open society while we are also aware of the dangers and have the mechanism to deal with such threats.
Q: India has been demanding a comprehensive convention against terrorism. Your thoughts?
A: We are against all kinds of terror. We believe in this age, the first priority is to secure the borders and then have better law enforcement. We will help our partner countries in every way we can to secure their societies from the reach of terror and will help them to build international consensus on combating terrorism globally.
Q: What are the various priorities before the India-Brazil Joint Commission at present?
A: The Joint Commission was created as a comprehensive mechanism to review all kinds of issues between India and Brazil. It covers political and economic issues as well as global and regional issues. This is also platform where we coordinate our actions in the diplomatic field to meet existing challenges between both sides.
Q: What is the present state of India-Brazil Strategic Partnership?
A: Brazil is a peaceful country made of immigrants, natives, and others. We have peaceful relation with the neighbours. We have succeeded in avoiding wars with neighbours for the last 160 years. We have successful trans-border mechanism for peacekeeping and law enforcement under the mechanism of MERCOSUR (Mercado Común del Sur) and UNASUR which allows us to maintain order in our region. We can exchange ideas and skills based on mutual experiences. As far as India and Brazil are concerned, we have agreed upon mechanisms where we can discuss joint defence drills and exercises when the need arises.
Q: Do you think Brazil and India can be natural partners in Africa’s development?
A: This year, I visited Africa twice and covered almost ten countries. There is a huge scope of collaborative work that India and Africa can do in Africa in the field of agriculture science and in the multilaterals. A big part of Brazil is of African origin and we have deep bond with Africa due to our historical and linguistic connections as there are countries like Mozambique that are Portuguese-speaking.
Q: Brazil is a participating country in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). What kind of cooperation is possible in the nuclear field between Brazil and India?
A: We are very interested to get a share of India’s expertise in nuclear energy and nuclear technology. We want to get down to the specifics on collaborative research, development and scientific exchanges in the field of nuclear energy production with India.
Brazil’s constitution has enshrined its commitment to non-weaponisation of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is important for our development and nuclear science has many applications in non-military areas like in the sphere of medicine and health. We want to make a new beginning in that direction for India-Brazil cooperation. We are focused on renewable energy in the new century and the nuclear energy is a prominent part of our energy plan and we want to learn from each other in this regard.
Q: Brazil is a friendly country and has also played a role in the Iranian negotiation. Will Brazil consider play the role of peacemaker in the Indian subcontinent between India and Pakistan?
A: If we are asked, then we can definitely play a role to resolve tension between India and Pakistan. We respect sovereignty and follow non-intervention in domestic affairs. But we are friends and can play a role when asked to be active on such issues.
Q: MTCR is a key regime that India is eager to enter. What can Brazil do to help deal with the India’s opponents in MTCR?
A: We have no diplomatic problems with the MTCR member countries. But if India wants us to step in to help on specific issues, Brazil can help India deal with specific obstructions.
Q: Brazil’s population is substantially made of the European immigrants and you have strong political contacts with EU and Italy. India’s ties with Italy has been uneasy for sometime. What is Brazil’s opinion on India-Italy ties?
A: EU is the largest trading block of Brazil. We have great political relations with many EU countries, including with Italy. Usually, sovereign states work on their own to solve their problems. But if India needs Brazil to play a role in its ties with European countries, Brazil will be happy to play that role.
Q: When do you think will the reforms in the UN Security Council take place?
A: We hope the reforms will be completed soon. The UN’s structure has become a heritage object as it was created during the World War II with 55 member countries. Today UN has 192 member states with the same structure of the core organs as they were in the 1940s. UN structure and the UN Security Council should change. UN in its present shape does not reflect the geopolitics of contemporary world.