In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Brazil sees more promising horizons with G-20 than UN Security Council

Posted by seumasach on June 22, 2010

Today’s Zaman

22nd June, 2010

A veteran career diplomat of Brazil believes that the G-20, or the Group of Twenty, is evolving into a broader forum in terms of its agenda and that its representation is far wider than the UN Security Council.

This remark was made by Brazil’s ambassador to Turkey, Marcelo Jardim, who has worked in the country’s Foreign Ministry since 1974, during an interview with Today’s Zaman, while explaining that Brazil and Turkey’s cooperation, which recently became visible in the international arena, is neither spontaneous nor conjectural.

“The G-20 is evolving into a broader forum in terms of its agenda. It is still fundamentally linked and related to world finance, aiming at overcoming the problems set by the economic and financial crisis in 2008. But at the same time it is offering the appropriate mechanism, or [tools], for [exerting] more political influence. If you want to sum it up, let’s say, it’s representative and is becoming more and more representative. It is [developing] more muscle with representatives that maybe the UN Security Council is not losing but no longer has,” Ambassador Jardim told Today’s Zaman.

A nuclear fuel swap deal brokered with Tehran jointly by Brazil and Turkey on May 17 and the two countries’ rejection of imposing new sanctions by the UN Security Council on June 9 have turned the spotlight on the cooperation between these two fast-growing economies.

Turkey and Brazil, both non-permanent members of the UN Security Council, were the only states among the council’s 15 members to vote against imposing a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program the West suspects is aimed at developing atomic weapons.

The G-20 is an international body that meets to discuss economic issues. Its members — 19 countries which are some of the world’s biggest industrial and emerging economies, plus the European Union — represent about 90 percent of the world’s gross national product (GNP), 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the global population. Its members include the G-7 nations, namely, the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada, and Russia, China, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey as well as the EU.

Turkey has repeatedly stated that it believes a reform of the UN Security Council is inevitable in order to be able to respond to the needs of the 2010s, 2020s and 2030s. Australia has said the G-20 is much more representative than the G-7 or the G-8, and South Africa has said the UN Security Council should become more representative of even the world’s smallest of nations.

“Brazil and Turkey have made it very clear that they will use diplomacy if it becomes necessary,” Jardim said. “Walking together, with logistics involved, the diplomacy of Brazil and the diplomacy of Turkey convinced other nations, including the UN, to be a part of a reasonable project,” referring to the May 17 deal.

The fact that the two countries together managed to get Iran to agree to the May 17 deal, almost identical to the one proposed by the UN atomic watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and backed by the US and other world powers only seven months ago, was the main reason that led Turkey and Brazil to vote against the sanctions; they have insisted that the door should be kept open to diplomacy with Tehran.

New players in first league

“Now there is closeness between the countries, and they are a good couple. As the article said, they are new ones in the first league who have taken advantage of the growing economies to deal with the crisis. Amidst the economic financial crisis through 2008 and 2009, we did very well in spite of certain difficulties. A parallel process of economic growth brings in more political stability and, as a result, makes us, both Turkey and Brazil, come out of 2009 and into 2010 with healthy governments,” remarked Jardim, referring to an article penned by Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim. The article, published in The New York Times on June 14, was titled “Let’s Hear From the New Kids on the Block.”

“Turkey and Brazil see very much eye to eye the importance of the G-20, and Brazil sees the G-20 as a much more representative form of the G-7 or G-8. You see the UN Security Council still entrenched with the five permanent members that have the right of veto, whereas you have in the G-20 a selection of countries — who are interconnected by the same concerns, referring to the evolution of the economic and financial scenario — that actually matter more in the international scene. Those countries may have different positions as they are affected in different ways by the same causes, yet they try to chart it along a road in which they can manage to make certain compatible decisions or the actions, certain strategies aimed at keeping that minimum level of stability in the world economy.”

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as US President Barack Obama are expected to participate in an upcoming G-20 summit that will begin on June 26 in Toronto. The summit will presumably offer an opportunity to the three leaders to hold talks on the sidelines during which they can better explain their differing views regarding the Iran issue.

As said before, Jardim’s aforementioned expression of “the new ones in the first league” was actually inspired by Amorim’s article.

“Countries like Brazil, China, India, South Africa and a few others are the ‘new kids on the block’ among global players that shape international relations. They legitimately aspire to greater participation in international institutions, which still suffer from a ‘democratic deficit.’ Global decisions can no longer be made without listening to their voices,” Amorim wrote.

According to Amorim, “The fact that Brazil and Turkey ventured into a subject that would be typically handled by the P5+1 [the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany] — and, more importantly, were successful in doing so — disturbed the status quo.”

All kids, with new ones on the scene

Concluding the article, the Brazilian minister said: “Much of the world has its eyes fixed now on the World Cup tournament in South Africa. In football, the most universal of all sports, developing nations such as Brazil and Argentina have always been major players. It is time that in grave matters of war and peace, emerging nations such as Turkey and Brazil — and others, such as India, South Africa, Egypt and Indonesia — have their voices heard. This will not only do justice to their credentials and abilities; it will also be better for the world.”

When asked to elaborate on Amorim’s expression of “new kids on the block” Jardim offered his interpretation.

“Let’s try to figure out the expression ‘the new kids on the block.’ By ‘new kids,’ it is not necessarily referring to people who are too young or immature. But you know it’s still the new kids who came and joined the others who are more established kids, who were up to then running the playground. I would like to mention that, with that title, Mr. Amorim would like to make it clear that both Brazil and Turkey are new on the block. But that they are all kids. They are the recently arrived ones, so when you take into consideration the children or youth’s psychology, there is at least some sort of mistrust or suspicion whenever new kids move to a place that others have run for a rather long time,” Jardim said.

According to Jardim, a January 2006 visit to Brazil by President Abdullah Gül, then the foreign minister, who was accompanied at the time by current Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, then the foreign policy chief advisor to Prime Minister Erdoğan, was the turning point in bilateral relations between Brazil and Turkey.

In the last few years after this visit, in addition to several visits paid to Turkey by Amorim, Lula paid a crucial visit to Turkey in May 2009, and the most recent high-level visit between the two countries took place when Prime Minister Erdoğan officially visited Brasilia last month.

Jardim maintained that all of these visits are clear indications of political will by both sides for intensifying and diversifying their joint efforts in the international arena as well as their bilateral cooperation.

“The level of political dialogue and diplomatic exchange between Brazil and Turkey in the last three to four years is stably growing and is more diversified. That brings a much larger scope of issues, of discovery of new points and areas of common interest that will bring in reciprocal advantages to develop the scope together,” the ambassador said, citing cooperation on the Iran issue as part of this widened scope while underlining the significance and functionality of “the consistency and the cohesion in Turkish foreign policy” within these efforts.

What next after Vienna?

The US, Russia and France had dismissed Iran’s proposal to swap some of its enriched uranium for fuel for a research reactor in Tehran in separate letters sent to the IAEA just hours before the UN Security Council’s planned meeting on June 9.

Turkey has clearly said that if the response by the Vienna Group had been more timely and positive, perhaps there would have been no need for the UN resolution, while calling the responses of the Vienna Group — comprising the US, France, Russia and the IAEA — “rather unhelpful.”

“Brazil and Turkey say they are available for taking part in bringing parties together; these two countries are not imposing themselves as part of the negotiating process. An initiative has to come from one of the two sides. Either the Iranian side, or the Security Council, or the IAEA or the P5+1,” Jardim said when asked about the upcoming process.

The Brazilian ambassador’s remarks were delivered prior to France’s statement this Saturday that it is ready to start talks with Iran over its nuclear program at the IAEA “without delay” and that the talks would be held “on the basis of Brazilian and Turkish efforts and the response sent out by Russia, France and the United States.”

When reminded of the timing of the Vienna Group’s response, Jardim replied, “Nothing is absolutely natural.”

Vis-a-vis the timing of the Vienna Group’s response, which Turkey said was “unfortunate,” Jardim said that, according to him, as a matter of fact, with the Tehran declaration being signed, “The most unlikely scenario in the eyes of the so-called Western countries” happened.

“But certainly plan B or plan C might have been in store; that’s why the acceleration of the voting process can be explained.”

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