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Visit to Brazil

Published on December 16, 2011
Interview given by François Fillon, Prime Minister, to the Brazilian newspaper “La Folha de Sao Paulo” (excerpts)

Paris, December 14, 2011

EURO AREA/DEBT CRISIS/GLOBAL TRADE

Q. – In the face of the current economic crisis, is Europe preparing to see a “lost generation”, as Angela Merkel says?

THE PRIME MINISTER – The stagnation of the European economy can be checked. Europe must reorganize and emerge from its debt. That’s what we’re doing collectively.

Europe still has some very real trump cards: the dynamic of a very large market of 500 million consumers, high-quality infrastructure, successful companies and poles of scientific, academic and technological excellence.

All our efforts are aimed at rebuilding confidence in Europe and preparing for a return to growth. I’m convinced that our latest decisions will contribute to that.

Q. – How do you answer those who see the present crisis as a reflection of a Europe in inexorable economic and geopolitical decline?

THE PRIME MINISTER – It’s natural that globalization should lead the emerging countries to start catching up. But Europe has all the tools to take control of its destiny and take advantage of this globalization.

And it’s in no way certain that the crisis will lead to its decline. Quite the contrary: this crisis is forcing it to open its eyes to the world around it, to a real revolution that has begun. It offers Europe an opportunity to question itself, transform its society, enhance the productivity of its economy and modernize its governance. I note, moreover, that in an extremely difficult context we’ve made more progress on economic and financial regulation in Europe in a few months than in more than 20 years. This crisis is often making us “do more with less”, pool our strengths at European level and exploit our trump cards to the maximum in global competition, like the calibre of our human resources, infrastructure and technology. Let’s remember: Europe is still the world’s main market and the world’s main trading power, and its share of trade (more than 16%) remains at that level despite the crisis and the fierce international competition. So let’s not give in to the temptation – which is very European, by the way – of revelling in the idea that Europe is a continent that’s run out of steam!

IMF/BRAZILIAN ROLE

Q. – Can the emerging countries, like Brazil, provide any help to crisis-hit Europe? If so, in what form?

THE PRIME MINISTER – The crisis in Europe is actually a crisis of excessive public debt in certain European countries. Europe, under the impetus of President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel, has taken strong measures: rescue plans, budgetary discipline measures, the establishment of firewalls to prevent contagion. Brazil must remain confident in the Euro Area. The results of the European Council of 9 December show our very strong determination to recast the Euro Area on the basis of governance that is both stricter and more mutually supportive. It’s on this basis that we’re expecting Brazil to take part in any international initiatives in partnership with the IMF aimed at strengthening the crisis management mechanisms, one element of which could be increasing the IMF’s resources by means of bilateral loans. (…)

BRAZIL/UN/SYRIA/HUMAN RIGHTS

Q. – The Defence Minister recently criticized the emerging countries, in particular Brazil, saying it was “high time they also became emerging countries in terms of human rights”. Do you share that opinion?

THE PRIME MINISTER – You have to be careful with statements taken out of context. The word “criticize” doesn’t strike me as appropriate.
In our minds, it’s more of an appeal to the big emerging countries, who are also demanding, legitimately, a more significant role in global governance. Brazil must play her full role in the international system, and France has been campaigning for this for a long time. It means more responsibilities, in particular an obligation to achieve results in terms of resolving serious international crises and saving lives. Of course it’s not a question of respect for human rights in Brazil but rather of international condemnation of countries who violate or have violated those rights. In this respect, we took very positive note of Brazil’s recent vote in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning the Syrian regime’s brutal actions.

Q. – Do the differences between France and Brazil at the UN Security Council over Libya, Iran and Syria call into question, to a lesser extent, Paris’s support for a reform of the Security Council enabling Brasilia to join as a permanent member?

THE PRIME MINISTER – Absolutely not. France’s position hasn’t changed. We are and remain more than ever fervent supporters of the allocation to Brazil of a permanent seat on the Security Council – because it’s obvious and in line with the direction of history. President Sarkozy regularly reiterates our support for Brazil’s candidature during his international speeches, and I’ll repeat it without the slightest ambiguity during my visit to Brazil! (…)./.

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