Information Bulletin of the BRICS Trade Union Forum
Issue 30.2019
2019.07.22 — 2019.07.28
International relations
Foreign policy in the context of BRICS
Brazil, BRICS and Bolsonaro: A once fast-growing BRIC nation is now the weakest BRIC in the wall (Бразилия, БРИКС и Больсонаро: некогда быстро растущая нация БРИК сейчас является самым слабым БРИК в стене) / India, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

The flight into Rio De Janeiro creates an idyllic setting. The turquoise blue waters of the South Atlantic serenade tourists and locals alike that flock to the world-famous sandy beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. Juxtapose the depths of the oceans' wonders with the imposing heights of Rio's hilly terrain. On top of one such hill, is Rio's iconic Christ the Redeemer, which keeps a watchful eye over the city and the iconic Maracanã Stadium, which hosted the 2014 World Cup finals. In one such splitting image, two of the more defining aspects of Brazilian life, Catholicism and football (soccer for your American tongue) is captured.

Yet I was told by one such Brazilian academic that, Rio De Janeiro — the city of Brazilian dreams is pretty from a distance, but it gets ugly when you get closer. The city has long grappled with a high crime-rate, drugs and poverty that is endemic through the favelas (popularised by the cult film City of God).

Brazil, like the United States is one of the largest countries in the Western Hemisphere. But the similarities aren't just restrictive to the geographic size; in fact the similarities get insidious. Brazil too has grappled with a problem with rising police brutalities. With the increasing crime rates, the lines get blurred between law enforcement and police brutality with reports of the Brazilian police force having killed the most in 2018 and suffered the most casualities in terms of death toll.

Although very multi-racial, Brazil has long postured a colourful canvas of a diversified utopia. However, visits to the Afro Brazilian museum will reveal that Brazil was the last country to formally abolish slavery. A history of indentured labourers and slavery with 4 million blacks that were shipped from Africa. A whopping 45% of those individuals brought to all Americas (including the USA) came through the shores of Rio.

Although very multi-racial, Brazil has long postured a colourful canvas of a diversified utopia.

A discussion with IPEAFRO, (a nonprofit based out of Rio that deals with the historical identity and cultural preservation of Afro-Brazilians), reveals that there still lingers a hierarchical society in Brazil with various citizens subtly being pegged into different classes — first, second and third class citizens. The disparities get evident when media reports show the woeful statistics of 73 Afro-Brazilians that die every day, translating to 3 people per hour. In 2017, Brazil defeated its own record with 64,000 homicides reported, beating its own record with a 3 percent increase from the year before. Increased reports of shoot and kill without apprehension of any drugs or weapons further accentuates the police brutalities.

Brazil has earned the infamous reputation of being the most violent country in Latin America and has the highest number of prisons after the United States. Gang wars are rife in Brazil, with Rio De Janeiro (Brazil's Los Angeles) noted to have three gangs that control drug distribution while the commercial capital of Sao Paulo (Brazil's New York City) is said to have a single gang that handles the contraband. There has been an outcry among human rights watchers to clamp down on police brutality. The clamor is that the traffickers are simply the poor pawns from the favelas, and little is done to clamp down on the kingpins and the drug lords. Back in 2013, there was nearly 450 kgs of cocaine seized from a helicopter belonging to a Brazilian senator. The death toll and violence in the favelas means its Afro-Brazilians who are twice as more likely to die as compared to their non-black counterparts.

Politically, Brazil is going through a seminal moment. The largest country in South America, which has traditionally voted in social democratic parties, flirted with the far-right movement in 2018. Brazil had one of the most expensive elections in the world, more than the world's oldest democracy, the United States in 2016, but lesser than the largest democracy, India in its 2019 elections.

Politically, Brazil is going through a seminal moment. The largest country in South America, which has traditionally voted in social democratic parties, flirted with the far-right movement in 2018.

Enter Jair Bolsonaro, a former military man turned politician of the Social Liberal Party a far-right conservative party. He espouses several values of the conservative tea-party GOP movement in the US by declaring his opposition to same-sex marriage, homosexuality, abortion, affirmative action (reservations in India), and critics even point out his disdain for secularism. Dubbed as Brazil's Donald Trump, the far-right candidate wooed the Brazilian working class (one poll stated that a majority of cab drivers across Rio De Janerio and Sao Paulo voted for the current president) stating that all the other parties were corrupt and his message was to eradicate crime and corruption but turning Brazil back to its 'traditional way in terms of faith'. Brazilian academics note that the bill to curb corruption now gives the law enforcement more authority to use force. Apart from minorities, there has been increased violence against women and members of the LGBTQ community.

There is a fear that Bolsonaro aside; his cabinet is stocked with eccentric individuals with dangerous ideas. The former education minister who was recently sacked, came with his share of controversies. Ricardo Velez wanted to rewrite school textbooks to describe the 1964-85 post-coup military dictatorship as a "democratic regime of force." He espoused wanting to make Brazil evangelical and insisted on the Bible being taught at school. Velez wanted to mandate compulsory singing of the national anthem across all schools and chant Bolsonaro's campaign slogan.

Even before the Bolsonaro government, there was this worry that the Brazilian education system needs a massive upheaval. In a pan-portuguese nation, the English-speaking diaspora is relatively low compared to other non-English speaking countries. Brazil has a problem of a large portion of the students who learn the language but can't converse in it easily. The ones who do have been offered the privilege of private education, another mark against the public education system. There is a fear that majority of the population may have inadvertently isolated themselves as a result of being not being able to converse in English and the Portuguese speaking countries outside Brazil, are just a handful (Portugal, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Angola). There is a huge population in the age gap of 15-35 years of the youth that are either out of the education force or out of the workforce.

Bolsonaro enjoyed the support of certain parliamentary members dubbed as the BBB caucus, which stands for bullets, bible and beef. In other words, a 326-member congressional caucus alliance known for its impassioned support of guns, agribusiness and all things towards Christianity. Brazil is going through a political and economic crisis. The country has come a long way since the ouster of military rule in 1985 and since then the country has adopted a new constitution.

Aerial view of Rio De Janeiro. Globally, Brazil remains one of the most open in terms of international investment. It's the eight largest economy globally, the largest in the Latin American region and second largest in the Americas, with natural resources in gold, uranium, iron and timber worth 22 trillion dollars. It is the world's largest coffee producer. Under former president Lula Da Silva, Brazil enjoyed a healthy growth rate, so much so that it made the exclusive Goldman Sachs club of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), an acronym for the fast-growing emerging market countries.

Globally, Brazil remains one of the most open in terms of international investment. It's the eight largest economy globally, the largest in the Latin American region and second largest in the Americas, with natural resources in gold, uranium, iron and timber worth 22 trillion dollars. It is the world's largest coffee producer.

The former President Lula, widely popular had a high approval rating of 85 percent, but according to some economists, he rode on reforms previously introduced and on the country's commodity rich resources. There was little done to reform the pensions and tax structure. His plans to run again in 2018 came crashing down with his arrest on corruption charges, courtesy Operation Car Wash. This evinces one academic statement that the corruption in Brazil is not petty, but highly networked.

His successor, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil's first female President, was not implicated in the same scandal but she didn't survive impeachment. Brazil, like its neighbour Argentina, underwent an economic crisis with rising unemployment and dwindling economic growth. Rousseff's approval ratings dropped into the single digits. The economist President was accused of fiscal irresponsibility and mismanagement of budgetary resources.

The FIESP, a trade association in Sao Paulo notes that while populism is not just restricted to the political right, it is almost unusual for Brazil to have right wing governments. The ennui with political corruption enabled a Bolsonaro government to take shape. The 'Trump of the tropics' as Bolsonaro is known has praised President Trump and wants to take a cue out of the President's book by doling out key posts to family members. He is considering nominating his son as Brazil's ambassador to the United States. The fear is unlike the United States, Brazil does not have the robust institutions, or a strong system of checks and balances needed to keep a far-right government from spreading its negative spheres of influence.

Brazil has been a country that has been the envy of the footballing world with five world cup titles. They coined the phrase Joga Bonito (beautiful game) emphasising to 'play beautiful football'. But for all the beauty in the form of countless stars in Pele, Ronaldinho, Ronaldo and the exotic Samba flair, it's the politics of Brazil that could be heading for an ugly turn.
BRICS ministers tackle trade, technology ahead of November summit (Министры стран БРИКС поговорят о торговле и технологиях в преддверии ноябрьского саммита) / China, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, foreign_ministers_meeting

Ministers of the BRICS countries gathered in Rio de Janeiro Friday to discuss arrangements for the eleventh summit of the bloc, scheduled for November 13-14 in the capital, Brasilia. Lucrecia Franco reports from Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil will be hosting a BRICS summit for a third time. Diplomats from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa attended a meeting in Rio to prepare the ground for the leader's summit later this year.

The key issues include global governance, international security, fighting terrorism and helping resolve global and regional conflicts, including the political crisis in Venezuela.

Brazil, which is the BRICS pro-tempore president, does not agree with China and Russia's policy of non-intervention in Venezuela.

"We can't ignore a cry for liberty that is coming from the Venezuelan people, said Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo. "Brazil has heard that cry and I make an appeal to all of you to also hear it."

The bloc is moving forward on many other issues. The opening in Sao Paulo of a regional office of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), for example, is expected to happen this year.

Prior to this meeting, the Brazilian and Chinese top diplomats, Ernesto Araujo and Wang Yi, met in Brasilia. They praised the growth in bilateral trade between the two nations. It surpassed $100-billion dollars in 2018. Wang said Brazil's president will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping before the summit.

"We are already welcoming the visit of President Jair Bolsonaro in October this year and President Xi Jinping is extremely interested in coming to the BRICS summit in Brazil," said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

This will be the first time both presidents will hold an official bilateral meeting since the informal BRICS gathering that took place on the sidelines of G20 summit last month in Osaka, Japan.

Some expected friction between some BRICS countries after Brazil's pro-Trump president, Jair Bolsonaro, took office. Brazil's Foreign Minister, Ernesto Araujo, is an avowed fan of Trump's too, and a critic of China. But observers say the absence of public discord at this meeting indicates the priority remains cooperation and that pragmatism will prevail over politics.
Minister Pandor attends the Third Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil (Министр Пандор принимает участие в третьей официальной встрече министров иностранных дел и международных отношений стран БРИКС в Рио-де-Жанейро, Бразилия) / South Africa, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting
South Africa

Minister Pandor attends the Third Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will attend the Third Formal Meeting of the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations, scheduled to take place on Friday, 26 July 2019 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

On the margins of the meeting, Minister Pandor will have a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Mr Ernesto Araujo.

South Africa and Brazil enjoy strong bilateral relations conducted through the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC), which is co-chaired at a Ministerial level.

The SA – Brazil JCC has not met since 2013, because of political and economic reasons.

Minister Pandor and Minister Araújo will meet for the first time since Minister Pandor took office in May 2019.

The bilateral meeting will afford the Minister an opportunity to emphasise South Africa's strong commitment to fruitful bilateral relations.
Russia supports priorities of Brazil's presidency in BRICS (Россия поддерживает приоритеты председательства Бразилии в БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: chairmanship, sergey_lavrov, quotation

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 26. /TASS/. Moscow supports the priorities of Brasilia's presidency in BRICS (the acronym standing for an association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday at a BRICS ministerial meeting.

He praised Brazil's efforts as the BRICS president, which were demonstrated during the BRICS summit in Japan's Osaka on June 28, on the sidelines of the Group of Twenty summit. "Let me to convey the highest assessments of the BRICS summit [at the G20 meeting] organization from the Russian president's administration. The process of agreeing the joint declaration was held very efficiently," he stressed.

"We hail Brazil's priorities of the development of cooperation between the five BRICS nations, such as closer cooperation in the spheres of innovation, science, technologies and digital economy. We support the Brazilian presidency's commitment to ensure the continuity of the association's agenda on the basis of the implementation of the resolutions of BRICS' previous summits," he said.

BRICS has a common approach against unilateral sanctions: Russian deputy chief of mission (У БРИКС общий подход против односторонних санкций - замглавы дипмиссии России) / India, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, quotation

The Russian deputy chief of mission in Delhi, Roman Babushkin has said that BRICS groupings have a common approach when it comes to unilateral sanctions.

BRICS members such as Russia are under American sanctions and countries like India face the prospects of these sanctions when it comes to deals such as S400 defence deal, he told WION.

He also spoke on the relevance of BRICS, trade-in national currencies.

WION: The relevance of BRICS in the current world order?

Roman Babushkin: BRICS is a very important mechanism in terms of its continued efforts, to support international community activities in shaping new multipolar world order. BRICS is doing its best to provide and propose the international community a unifying agenda. It is not against anybody, it is standing for bringing developing countries to the decision-making process when it comes to global economic governance and we stand for collective efforts while we are dealing with the global and regional issues.

WION: How much is terror an issue for BRICS. India has been raising the issue of counter-terror?

Roman Babushkin: We do support Indian measures and Indian approach to make this issue in the framework of BRICS more practical. This is in a way general process, we have just started practical cooperation in the framework of BRICS. During Indian contribution, we established a dedicated group against terrorism and the current president is bringing this cooperation to the new level. We do hope our relevant experts who will meet next month will have an opportunity to discuss in more details and work out something specific for the next summit to be held in brazil.

WION: How much trade is currently happening in national currencies?

Roman Babushkin: BRICS is also to give more opportunity for member states to use national currencies in their trade. The volume of trade in national currencies is increasing. its a common tendency and BRICS is just following it.

WION: Unilateral Sanctions an issue, what is BRICS approach?

Roman Babushkin: In fact, BRICS approach on unilateral sanctions is already there. We have quite a similar position that we do not accept unilateral sanctions, extraterritorial sanctions. We do support, new multipolar world order and it should be based on the central role of united nations and avoiding unilateral and politically motivated approach in global and regional affairs and against double standards. This is part of the BRICS agenda and unacceptability of unilateral sanctions. If we succeed in our efforts, to stable financial systems and national currencies stronger, it will help us overcome restrictions.

Brazil challenges Russia, China on Venezuela crisis (Бразилия бросает вызов России и Китаю в связи с кризисом в Венесуэле) / China, July, 2019
Keywords: political_issues, expert_opinion

Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araujo on Friday plunged immediately into the divisive question of Venezuela, urging his counterparts from BRICS nations Russia, China, India and South Africa to hear Venezuelans' "cry for freedom."

"Brazil has heard that cry. I appeal to you all to listen to it too," Araujo said at the opening session, reiterating his government's support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido over President Nicolas Maduro.

Few issues divide the informal trade group as deeply as how to deal with Venezuela, whose socialist government is strongly backed by Russia and China, but a mass migration caused by the nation's economic and political crisis has led to an influx of tens of thousands in Brazil.

Araujo denounced "a regime sustained by force" that he said has led to extreme poverty, hunger and "the exodus of 4 million Venezuelans."

However, he agreed with Russia on one key point: opposition to foreign intervention.

"We agree that the solution must be constructed by Venezuelans," Araujo told reporters later.

The focus on Venezuela led to a discordant start for the meeting of emerging economies — in contrast to past gatherings held under former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, which drew other leftist governments together against Washington.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, has compared himself to US President Donald Trump, complained about Russia's support of Maduro and suggested allowing a US military presence in Brazil.

Before entering the Cabinet, Araujo had been deeply skeptical of China, suggesting on his blog that its extensive investments in Brazil were a threat to national sovereignty.

He also wrote that climate change was a plot piloted by "cultural Marxism" to promote China's growth.

Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov responded to Araujo's plea by saying that the approach to Venezuela should be based on "international law and give support to Venezuelans without external interference, and always with [respect to] the constitution."

Oliver Stuenkel, an associate professor of international relations at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said that he did not expect much to come of either entrenched position.

"Despite Brazil caring a lot about this topic, I think it is very unlikely to see anything substantive vis-a-vis Venezuela coming out of this summit," he said.

The meeting is supposed to lay the groundwork for a November summit of the five nations' leaders that would focus on forging agreements on trade and technology, and fighting terrorism and international crime.

Separately, Araujo confirmed that Bolsonaro's administration has officially nominated Eduardo Bolsonaro, the president's son, to be Brazil's ambassador to the US.

The proposal would have to be cleared by Washington and approved by the Brazilian Senate.

BRICS urged to back PM Narendra Modi's call for global meet on terrorism (БРИКС призвал поддержать призыв премьер-министра Нарендры Моди к глобальной встрече по борьбе с терроризмом) / India, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, narendra_modi, terrorism

Minister of State Gen. VK Singh also sought greater support from BRICS on the five recommendations made by Prime Minister Modi in Osaka.

BRICS urged to back PM Narendra Modi's call for global meet on terrorism | Photo Credit: ANI

Rio de Janeiro: India has urged BRICS to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call for a global conference on terrorism (GCT), made during the informal meeting of the bloc's leaders in Osaka, Japan, last month, saying it would bolster efforts for early conclusion of a comprehensive convention on international terrorism (CCIT).

Addressing the BRICS Foreign Ministers' meeting here, in preparation for the summit meeting in November, Minister of State Gen. VK Singh said BRICS' support for GCT would "underline our commitment to a comprehensive approach to counter terrorism on a firm international legal basis and may bolster our efforts for the early conclusion of CCIT".

Singh, who is standing in for External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, said the 2017 Xiamen BRICS summit declaration had reflected the bloc's strong collective resolve to fight terrorism and requested for similar support from members on the issue of India's call for a GCT.

He also sought greater support from BRICS on the five recommendations made by Prime Minister Modi in Osaka.

These included calling for greater synergy between BRICS countries to promote 'reformed multilateralism' in international institutions, ensure availability of energy resources at low cost, accord greater priority to infrastructure and renewable energy related projects by NDB (New Development Bank), ensure ease of movement of skilled personnel and a stronger commitment of BRICS to the fight against terrorism.

"We will appreciate greater support from BRICS countries on these issues in the international sphere and look forward to enhanced engagement within BRICS in these areas," Singh said.

Referring to economic offenders and fugitives, Singh said BRICS countries -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa -- must continue to work together against such people as they posed a serious threat to the world's economic stability. He said PM Modi had at the G20 Buenos Aires Summit in 2018 suggested a 9-point agenda for action against fugitive economic offenders and asset recovery.

"The proposed agenda included strong and active international cooperation, cooperation in legal processes, extradition, exchange of information, stopping entry and safe haven to fugitive economic offenders. We thank our BRICS partners for taking the process forward," Singh said.

On terrorism, he said BRICS members had been victims of terrorism themselves. He called for BRICS to take a clear stand that terrorists and their supporters could nort in any scenario, be equated with the victims of terrorism. Referring to the terror attacks in New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Somalia, he said the rising number of such attacks indicated that terrorists were never in short supply of weapons or money.

"BRICS must call upon all states to prevent the financing of terrorist networks and terrorist action from their territories. BRICS has always shown a strong commitment to combat terrorism and extremism and adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism, he said.

He said the BRICS working group on counter terrorism agreed to set up sub-working groups on addressing terror financing, countering the use of Internet for terror purposes, capacity building, countering radicalisation, countering foreign terrorist fighters and closer intelligence and law enforcement cooperation. He said at the CTWG meeting next week, further progress was expected.

He said the objective should be to adopt common approaches and coordinate efforts in addressing terrorism, through sharing of information, best practices and capacity building. He also announced India's support for a seminar on 'BRICS strategies for countering terrorism' being hosted by Brazil.

"At the broader level, however, we need to develop greater understanding and convergence on issues of mutual concern in the coming years, if BRICS has to emerge stronger. Conflicts in various parts of the world pose challenges to global peace and security," he said.

Singh also reiterated India's call for reform in the UNSC. "We believe 'reformed multilateralism' is the way forward in these times, especially the reform of the UN Security Council."

BRICS foreign ministers push for UN reform (Министры иностранных дел стран БРИКС настаивают на реформе ООН) / South Africa, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, un
South Africa

Johannesburg - Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor participated in her first BRICS Foreign Ministers in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Friday.

"BRICS is in a powerful position to be a voice of inclusion, of change and to advocate for a more progressive world order defined by cooperation," Pandor told her BRICS counterparts.

"As the BRICS partners, we are confronted today with tendencies towards ultra-nationalistic behaviour, anti-globalisation sentiments and arbitrary unilateral actions. The contemporary global political and economic situation is setting an alarming tone," Pandor said.

The BRICS ministers underlined their support for multilateralism and the central role of the UN in international affairs, and reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including the Security Council, with a view to making it more representative and efficient. There was consensus on the need to increase the representation of developing countries so that the council can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterated the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.

The Ministers also underlined the imperative of countering challenges to international peace and security through political and diplomatic means, and the need to avoid all measures that are inconsistent with the Charter of the UN. The Ministers expressed concern over the heightened tension in the Gulf region and called for a peaceful political solution through dialogue and diplomatic engagement.

South Africa welcomed the focus on trade and investment at the BRICS meeting as a means to aid developing countries in navigating the current global economic environment. Russia, India, China and South Africa have extended their full support for Brazil in hosting the 11th BRICS Summit in 2019.

* Shannon Ebrahim is the Group Foreign Editor

China to advance ties with Brazil to new level: FM (Китай выведет связи с Бразилией на новый уровень - глава МИД) / China, July, 2019
Keywords: cooperation, foreign_ministers_meeting, wang_yi

BRASILIA - China is willing to advance the comprehensive strategic partnership with Brazil to a new level, said visiting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi here on Thursday.

Wang said China is willing to work together with Brazil to build the bilateral relationship into a model of cooperation between China and Latin America, between emerging markets, and into a model of South-South cooperation.

Wang made the remarks when meeting journalists after holding the third China-Brazil Foreign Ministers' Comprehensive Strategic Dialogue with his Brazilian counterpart Ernesto Araujo.

Brazil is the first developing country to establish a strategic partnership with China, the first Latin American country to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership with China, and also the first Latin American country to have a bilateral trade volume of over 100 billion US dollars with China, Wang said.

China-Brazil relations are of strategic guidance, Wang said. Regardless of the changes in the international landscape and the respective situations of the two countries, China will continue to value Brazil's important role in international and regional affairs and to support Brazil's domestic development.

Wang said that the third China-Brazil Foreign Ministers' Comprehensive Strategic Dialogue marks the first in-depth strategic communication between the two diplomatic departments since the new Brazilian government took office.

The meeting is therefore of positive significance for enhancing mutual understanding and trust as well as strengthening bilateral exchanges and cooperation, Wang added.

The two sides believed that head-of-state diplomacy plays a leading, strategic role in maintaining the healthy and stable development of bilateral ties. China welcomes Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro's state visit in October and later Chinese President Xi Jinping will also attend the meeting of the leaders of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) at the invitation of Brazil.

The two sides also agreed to promote bilateral practical cooperation and implement the results of the fifth meeting of the China-Brazil High-Level Coordination and Cooperation Committee.

As two important emerging forces in the process of global multi-polarization, China and Brazil should take advantage of the bilateral mechanism, strengthen the integration of China's Belt and Road Initiative with Brazil's development plan, deepen cooperation in the traditional areas of agriculture, mining, infrastructure, aviation and aerospace as well as expand new cooperation areas such as technological innovation and digital economy, Wang added.

Both sides agreed to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties and strengthen collaboration under multilateral frameworks of the United Nations, Group of 20 and BRICS, so as to address global challenges and to play a positive role in safeguarding world peace and stability and promoting global growth.

The foreign minister said China fully supports Brazil in holding the eleventh meeting of the leaders of the BRICS in November to jointly convey positive signs of solidarity and cooperation between the BRICS countries and to contribute to the vision of the second "golden decade" of BRICS cooperation.

Wang is on a two-nation tour to Latin America, which will also take him to Chile from Friday to Sunday.

Chinese FM says BRICS cooperation a strategic choice, urges bigger BRICS role in world affairs (Глава МИД КНР считает сотрудничество БРИКС стратегическим выбором и призывает к усилению роли БРИКС в мировых делах) / China, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, wang_yi, quotation

RIO DE JANEIRO - The rise of emerging markets and developing countries, represented by the BRICS countries, has bolstered a more multi-polar world, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said here on Friday.

At the Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Wang also said BRICS cooperation is not a band-aid solution for the five countries but a strategic choice that focuses on common and long-term development and harbors bright prospects.

The five countries are Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Wang said no matter how the international landscape changes, the direction of the BRICS cooperation must not change. Faced with new challenges, the five countries should let their voices be heard, offer more solutions to pressing global issues and play a greater role in world affairs.

Wang pointed out that unilateralism undermines international rules and challenges the international rule of law, which exacerbates the instability and uncertainty of the world.

The BRICS countries must take the lead in maintaining multilateralism and safeguarding the global governance system with the UN as its core and under international law.

Furthermore, the bloc should safeguard the multilateral trading system represented by the WTO and protect the common interests and development space of emerging market and developing countries, he said.

The five countries together must continue to integrate the interests of other emerging market countries and developing countries through flexible and diverse platforms such as "BRICS Plus."

At the meeting, the five foreign ministers all agreed to safeguard the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, defend multilateralism and free trade, oppose unilateralism and protectionism, strengthen global governance, and build a community with a shared future for humankind.

They agreed that regional hotspot issues should be resolved through dialogue and consultation and that BRICS cooperation should work to benefit the peoples of the five countries.

The foreign ministers also agreed to maintain vigilance on cybersecurity issues and expressed opposition to the use of cybersecurity to suppress the development of science and technology in other countries. They agreed to strive toward an open and non-discriminatory environment for the application of information technology.

The foreign ministers were tasked with preparing for the BRICS summit to be held in Brasilia in November.
China, Russia should strengthen cooperation in technologies, energy — foreign minister (Китай и Россия должны укреплять сотрудничество в сфере технологий, энергетики - глава МИД) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, wang_yi, cooperation

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on the sidelines of the BRICS meeting of foreign ministers in Brazil

BEIJING, July 27. /TASS/. China and Russia should expand bilateral cooperation on cutting-edge scientific and energy projects, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Saturday at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

"We need to start impelementing important agreements that had been reached by the leaders of China and Russia, to continuously boost the strategic importance of Chinese-Russian relations," Wang said. "We need to stregthen mutual trust, expand cultural-humanitarian ties, promote pragmatic cooperation, first of all in the sphere of cutting-edge technologies and energy," he added.

China and Russia should thus actively coordinate the schedule of future bilateral meetings at the high level, he noted. "In the new era, we should provide a new impetus for Chinese-Russian relations and strengthen mutual political trust," the Chinese foreign minister concluded.

Wang and Lavrov met in Brazil on the sidelines of the BRICS session of foreign ministers.

BRICS nations hail efforts towards denuclearization of Korean Peninsula (Страны БРИКС приветствуют усилия по денуклеаризации Корейского полуострова) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, political_issues

On June 30, Donald Trump became the first US President to visit the Korean Demilitarized Zone

MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. The BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, support efforts towards complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as follows from a joint statement of the BRICS foreign ministers that was posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on Friday.

"The Ministers welcomed recent developments to achieve the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in North East Asia. They reaffirmed the commitment for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation," the document says.

During his visit to South Korea on June 30, US President Donald Trump visited the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on the border with North Korea where he met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the border village of Panmunjeom. Later, Trump said they had agreed to resume working-level consultations on denuclearization within two or three weeks
BRICS top diplomats express concern over aggravation in Afghanistan (Высокопоставленные дипломаты БРИКС выражают обеспокоенность обострением ситуации в Афганистане) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, political_issues

Of especial concern are the increased terrorist-related attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces

MOSCOW, July 26. /TASS/. The BRICS nations, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, are concerned over the aggravation of the situation in Afghanistan and frequent terror attacks in that country, as follows from a joint statement of the BRICS foreign ministers posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on Friday.

"The Ministers reiterated support for international and national efforts to achieve an 'Afghan-led, Afghan-owned' peace and reconciliation process and to build a peaceful, secure, united, stable, prosperous and inclusive country that exists in harmony with its neighbors. They expressed their concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, particularly the increase in the number and intensity of terrorist-related attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces, the Government and civilians," the document says. "They looked forward to the Presidential elections scheduled for September 2019."
Russia urges BRICS nations to take part in rebuilding Syria, says Lavrov (Россия призывает страны БРИКС принять участие в восстановлении Сирии, считает Лавров) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov,political_issues,quotation

The launch of a constitutional committee that is expected shortly will be a crucial stage on this path, the Russian diplomat stressed

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 26./TASS/. Moscow urges all partners in the BRICS group of nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) to take part in work towards post-war restoration of Syria, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a BRICS foreign ministerial session on Friday.

"It is crucially important to support the processes of Syria's post-conflict restoration. We urge participation in this activity and note in this connection efforts taken by our Chinese and Indian friends," the Russian diplomat said.

The main tasks for the settlement in the Arab republic are restoration of sovereignty and territorial integrity, extermination of the remaining terrorists, assistance in the return of refugees with an advance of the political process led by the Syrians themselves in line with Resolution 2254 of the UN Security Council, Lavrov reiterated.

"The launch of a constitutional committee that is expected shortly will be a crucial stage on this path," the top diplomat stressed.

Lavrov calls on BRICS nations to support Russia's concept of Gulf security and cooperation (Лавров призывает страны БРИКС поддержать российскую концепцию безопасности и сотрудничества в Персидском заливе) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, political_issues, quotation

According to the Russian top diplomat, tensions in the region have been escalated due to the anti-Iranian steps taken by a number of countries

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 26. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has called on the BRICS (the acronym coined for an association of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) partners to support Russia's concept of collective security in the Gulf.

"Russia stands for the soonest normalization of the situation in this region [the Gulf]. To this end we have elaborated a concept of collective security and cooperation in the Gulf. All of our BRICS colleagues have the text of this concept. We hope for your support," he said at a BRICS ministerial meeting on Friday.

According to the Russian top diplomat, tensions in that region have been escalated due to the anti-Iranian steps taken by a number of countries. "The development of the situation has reached a dangerous line, which is fraught with risks of large-scale warfare. We must do our best to prevent it," he stressed.

Following the meeting, a joint statement was published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website on Friday. According to it, the BRICS nations call for using political and diplomatic means to settle the situation.

"The Ministers expressed the concern over the heightened tensions in the Gulf region and called for a peaceful political solution through dialogue and diplomatic engagement," the document says.

The situation around Iran exacerbated on July 19, when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an elite military force of the Islamic Republic, seized the UK-flagged tanker Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for "the violations of international maritime regulations." According to the IRGC, the tanker was escorted towards the shore for further investigation.

Following the incident, US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said that Washington was "building out a coalition that will patrol the Strait of Hormuz to keep those shipping lanes, those sea lanes open." "There'll be nations from all around the world that participate in that," he added. On July 19, the US Central Command issued a statement saying that it was "developing a multinational maritime effort, Operation Sentinel, to increase surveillance of and security in key waterways in the Middle East to ensure freedom of navigation in light of recent events in the Arabian Gulf region."

Russia's foreign ministry made public a concept of collective security in the Gulf on July 23. It envisages the establishment of an initiative group to prepare an international conference on security and cooperation in the Gulf, with an eye to setting up an organization of that name.

Apart from that, Moscow came out with initiatives to create demilitarized zones in that region, to refrain from deploying permanent forces of off-region nations and establish hotline links between the military.

Pragmatism to prevail in Brazil''s ties with China (В отношениях Бразилии с Китаем будет преобладать прагматизм) / India, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

Rio de Janeiro, Jul 25 Brazil''s foreign minister has made clear that there is no love lost for Beijing on his part, but when he sits down with his Chinese opposite for the first time Thursday analysts expect pragmatism to prevail. Ernesto Araujo, a critic of China and fervent admirer of US President Donald Trump -- views shared by his right-wing boss, President Jair Bolsonaro -- is likely to adopt a more conciliatory tone when he meets Wang Yi in the Brazilian capital.

Both sides are looking to strengthen a relationship that only months ago many had feared could rupture under newly-elected Bolsonaro, especially in the face of growing US-China trade tensions.

But moderates in the deeply divided government have convinced right-wing ideologues --including Araujo -- that "there''s too much at stake" for Brazil to turn away from its biggest trade partner, said Oliver Stuenkel, a professor of international relations at Getulio Vargas Foundation.

China represented 27.8 percent of Brazil''s exports in 2018.

"Brazil''s economic prospects depend on good economic ties with China," Stuenkel told AFP. "I am confident that, paradoxically, China and Brazil relations will actually deepen under Bolsonaro."

Closer ties with China were encouraged under leftwing former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who is in jail for corruption.

During last year''s election campaign, however, Bolsonaro accused the world''s second largest economy of "buying Brazil" and antagonized Chinese leaders by visiting Taiwan, considered a renegade province by Beijing.

Since taking power in January Bolsonaro has sought to deepen relations with like-minded conservative governments in the United States and Israel as he pivots away from developing countries.

But Brazil''s economic slowdown and pressure from its powerful mining and farming sectors, which depend on China to buy their iron ore and soya bean exports and are influential backers of Bolsonaro, have buffered the relationship.

"There is an ideological rhetoric, but in practice pragmatism prevails," Rubens Barbosa, a former Brazilian ambassador to Washington, told AFP.

"You should not pay attention to what was said a few months ago on foreign policy and the environment. It has changed completely."

Vice President Hamilton Mourao, a retired general and moderate in the Brazilian government, has worked hard to repair any damage to the country''s ties with the Asian powerhouse.

He traveled to Beijing in May where he reassured President Xi Jinping that Chinese investment was welcome in Brazil, ahead of Bolsonaro''s planned visit to the country later this year.

Mourao said this month Chinese tech company Huawei would not face restrictions in Brazil, defying US pressure to shun the firm because of its links to the Beijing government and possible security threats.

"There are tensions within the government over how to deal with China," said Luis Fernandes of the BRICS Policy Center in Rio de Janeiro.

But "I tend to think that economic interests will prevail." While Beijing could hardly have missed the anti-China rhetoric, it was unlikely to retaliate against Brazil, said Julia Coym of Control Risks consultancy in Shanghai.

"China will pay a lot more attention to Bolsonaro''s actions now that he''s in office than the rhetoric he employed during the campaign," Coym said.

Araujo and Wang''s meeting in Brasilia comes on the eve of a wider talks in Rio with their BRICS counterparts from Russia, India and South Africa.

A summit of the leaders of the BRICS nations is planned for November in Brasilia.

While the deteriorating situation in Venezuela is expected to be discussed, deep divisions among the emerging economies over how to respond to the crisis is likely to prevent a strong declaration on the issue.

Brazil is among more than 50 countries that recognize Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido as the legitimate acting president.

China and Russia still support Nicolas Maduro''s government.

"This could start to be a factor that increases friction between BRICS members," said Carlos Gustavo Poggio of Brazilian university FAAP.

Some analysts see Brazil''s ties with China is the main reason it has remained in the BRICS, even as the group''s relevance has been questioned in recent years.

"If they were to walk away so abruptly I think it would create an unnecessary crisis with Beijing," said Brian Winter, editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly.

"They want to maintain a pragmatic commercial relationship with China" which sees BRICS as a useful way to expand its influence in Latin America and Africa. RS RS

Russia Vis-à-Vis the Globe: In Counter-Phase Mode (Россия по отношению к миру: в противофазном режиме) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, political_issues

The much anticipated G20 summit delivered some relief from the US-China trade dispute, as the imposition of higher tariffs was postponed. Although there were also bilateral talks between the Russian and US presidents, as well as meetings of the leaders of BRICS economies, the significance of the G20 summit largely amounted to a reaffirmation of its role as the key venue for maintaining policy dialogue among the largest powers on the world stage. While the summit did not bring a definitive resolution to the China-US trade dispute, there were in fact important breakthroughs in other areas, such as the announcement of the EU-Mercosur FTA deal, which took several decades to negotiate. This agreement is set to create the largest free-trade area in the world, thus signifying the potential for regional integration to compensate in part for the trade disputes and mounting protectionism in bilateral country-to country trade relations.

In this respect, Russia together with its partners in the Eurasian Economic Union (which includes Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan) is looking to further widen the array of free-trade accords. This coming October, an FTA accord is set to be signed with Serbia, while the FTA with Singapore (which includes the liberalization of goods, services and investment) is due to be finalized by the end of this year. Discussions on an FTA agreement are also under way with India, Israel, Indonesia and a number of other developing countries. Furthermore, on June 20 South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee and Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin launched FTA negotiations in services and investment in Moscow.

Currently, more than 20 countries and blocs have expressed interest in creating an FTA with the Eurasian Economic Union, including the likes of Egypt, Jordan, Thailand and Chile. There are also memoranda signed with trade blocs such as Mercosur and ASEAN on joint cooperation and potential liberalization initiatives. Overall, Russia together with partners from the Eurasian Economic Union is starting from a low base in terms of the number of alliances – currently there are only the FTA accords with Vietnam (2015) and Iran (2018), as well as a non-preferential trade accord with China, reached in 2018. Russia's momentum in trade negotiations, however, suggests that in the coming years it could play catch-up vis-a-vis developed economies in significantly expanding the geography of trade and investment alliances – something that may positively impact the conditions for foreign investment going forward.

In the monetary policy sphere, with seasonal deflation possibly to be observed in August and a zero reading for June, the CPI for the year could fall below the 4% mark as predicted earlier by Maxim Oreshkin. This, in turn, suggests that there could be more room for maneuver in further reducing the key rate from the current 7.50% to 7.00% or even less. This will be further facilitated by the Fed's change in stance this year, with the cycle of rate increases giving way to several potential cuts later this year.

Similarly, on the fiscal front, the relatively high degree of conservatism in Russia's fiscal stance that enabled it to accumulate sizable reserves in the National Wealth Fund (NWF) will likely give way to increasing spending. This will be in part due to greater financing of the so-called National Projects (in areas such as infrastructure and human capital) after a slow start in the disbursement of funds in 1H19, as well as investment of part of the NWF once its size exceeds 7% of GDP (most likely next year). The scale of fiscal loosening will be tempered by the overriding need to maintain macroeconomic stability, but the room for maneuver appears to be sizable given the strength of the sovereign balance sheet.

The picture that emerges is that across the main strands of Russia's economic policy there is scope and momentum for using the reserves in fiscal and monetary policy as well as in structural policy measures to liberalize the external trade regime. In some respects Russia's economic position appears to be in a "counter-phase mode" to the global trends that are characterized by limited scope for fiscal loosening (given the prevalence of debt overhang), relatively low degree of monetary policy maneuver (after a protracted period of low policy rates) and growing concerns over intensifying protectionism. Financial markets appear to be largely putting their hopes on monetary policy support from the central banks of the leading economies in warding off recessionary fears. The question is whether this monetary support factor is strong enough to continue to prop up the markets going forward and pass the tests of ongoing macroeconomic data from the US and other leading economies.

In Russia's case part of the reason for this "counter-phase mode" and the build up in reserves has to do with a combination of external constraints and a set of policy rules that evolved in Russia over the past several years that cover all three key areas of economic policy: the fiscal rule associated with a conservative cut-off oil price assumption, inflation-targeting with the 4% inflation target serving as a monetary policy rule and WTO membership and commitments serving as a structural policy anchor on the foreign economic policy side. The task for the Russian government going forward will be to maintain the framework of these economic policy rules while at the same time allowing for the significant reserves to be deployed in counter-cyclical fashion as the rest of the world economy is facing a deceleration in growth and scarcity in the arsenal of policy instruments to support economic activity.
What to Expect From the Rio Meeting of BRICS Foreign Ministers (Чего ожидать от встречи министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС в Рио) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, foreign_ministers_meeting
Author: Elizaveta Gromoglasova

On July 25-26, a meeting between the foreign ministers of the BRICS group of states is taking place in Rio de Janeiro. Its goal is to prepare for the summit of the BRICS leaders, which is scheduled for November 13-14 and will be held in Brasilia, Brazil's capital city. The agenda of today's meeting covers the problems of global and regional security and the settlement of international conflicts, including the situation in Venezuela. The position of Brazil as BRICS chairman on this issue does not coincide with the approaches of the other members of the group, especially Russia and China. The meeting of the Lima group on July 23, where Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araújo participated, named Juan Guaidó president of Venezuela and demanded that countries "supporting the dictatorial regime" of President Maduro withdraw their military advisers and security/intelligence agents from Venezuela. The hard tone of the declaration, fully supported by the head of the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, leaves little hope that common ground will be found on the Venezuela issue between him and his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov.

Nevertheless, the contradictions among the BRICS over the causes and methods for resolving the Venezuelan crisis are not very significant. The leaders of this informal association have repeatedly stressed their commitment to a peaceful settlement and expressed support for the Oslo format enabling dialogue between the opposition and Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. It is noteworthy that Jair Bolsonaro spoke at a recent press conference about his desire to obtain help from Russia in solving the Venezuelan problem.

At the same time, it would be incautious to expect a lot from the ministerial meeting, both in terms of a Venezuelan settlement, and with respect to other acute issues of global and regional security (the Iran-US confrontation; India-Pakistan). The intermediary potential of BRICS is still very weak, due to the different weight of the BRICS members in global security institutions, primarily the UN Security Council. Despite Russia's support for the candidacies of India and Brazil as new permanent members of the UN Security Council, its reform is virtually frozen and remains the subject of fierce disputes.

Hence, here is the immutable law of the BRICS format: it successfully develops only in those areas where its members' interests coincide, and international institutional and legal conditions are not insurmountable obstacles to moving forward. Of course, one should not discount political leadership as a factor; it does a lot to determine the outcome of BRICS summits.

Therefore, the main intrigue of the ministerial meeting in Rio is determined by the Brazilian president's general attitude towards the BRICS. Many observers predicted a slowdown and stagnation of cooperation within BRICS after the Trump-style politician came to power in Brazil, but such predictions turned out to be very far from reality. This is evidenced by the recent meeting of the BRICS leaders on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Osaka, and by the meeting of Ernesto Araújo with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, which was held on the eve of the BRICS foreign ministers' meeting.

The focus of the two ministers was the programme of the upcoming visit of Jair Bolsonaro to China in October. The Brazilian president has already spoken of his intentionto present China with a "portfolio" of infrastructure projects, where Brazil seeks to attract Chinese investors. Such projects include the construction of new highways and railways, ports, airports and energy infrastructure. Thus, Bolsonaro is diligently moving away from the anti-Chinese rhetoric he has used, guided by pragmatism in real politics toward Brazil's largest trading partner. He's also distancing himself from the ongoing trade war between the United States and China.

BRICS is a flexible summit format that allows leaders to discuss exactly those problems that the participants consider the most urgent. With respect to the global economy, this is increasing protectionism, unilateral sanctions, inefficiency and the urgent need for reforming the global economic governance institutions (WTO, IMF, World Bank). The working programme of the BRICS New Development Bank, established in 2014, will doubtlessly be discussed. In Osaka, the successful cooperation which takes place within the framework of the BRICS was noted by all the leaders without exception, and by the end of 2019, there are plans to open regional offices of the BRICS Bank in all member states.

For the foreign ministers, the meeting in Rio de Janeiro was the first in the BRICS format. They include Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishanka and his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor, who in 2018 signed the BRICS declaration on strengthening cooperation in education as the minister of education of South Africa.

Education remains the centre of attention for BRICS. Science, technology and innovation are the priorities of the Brazilian presidency in the association. Therefore, the most expected outcome of the ministerial meeting in Rio is the preparation of intergovernmental agreements on cooperation in these areas. These documents are likely to be signed at the November summit of the BRICS leaders. Before the summit, the ministers will meet again – in September in New York, on the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly.
BRICS FM Meeting in Brazil: Priorities Reloaded (Встреча главы БРИКС в Бразилии: перезагрузка приоритетов) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: expert_opinion, foreign_ministers_meeting

On July 26th a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of BRICS countries is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The meetings at the level of the heads of Foreign Ministries is held twice per year with the approaching meeting set to be focused on the preparation for the 11th BRICS Summit to be held in Brasilia in November 2019. While no major breakthroughs are to be expected in the meeting, it may serve to consolidate the BRICS position on a number of important issues, including with respect to joint participation in international organizations and initiatives, as well as in building cooperation to counter terrorism.

As regards Brazil's stance in the upcoming talks concerns regarding the possible disengagement of Bolsonaro's team from the BRICS discussions have largely been overblown. While the scope of the agenda put forth by Brazil during its year of presidency in the BRICS might not seem too ambitious, there do appear to be important priorities accorded by the Brazilian side to issues of economic cooperation in the sphere of innovation and digital economy development. With important innovations of the past several years such as the BRICS+ and outreach exercises unlikely to be actively pursued this year, Brazil will likely seek to show more results in the economic and security areas to mark its contribution to developing and furthering the BRICS policy agenda.

For India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar the upcoming meeting in Brazil Is set to be the first engagement with his BRICS counterparts since assuming office in June of this year. According an official statement issued by India's Ministry of External Affairs, "India attaches high importance to its engagement with BRICS and has continued to engage BRICS at the highest levels. We believe that BRICS has emerged as a valuable forum for consultation, coordination and cooperation on contemporary global issues of mutual interest and has helped promote mutual understanding".

For her part Russia's Foreign Ministry's Spokesperson Maria Zakharova announced that a meeting between Lavrov and his Brazilian counterpart will take place on the sidelines of the BRICS foreign ministers' conference on July 26. The meeting will thoroughly review bilateral cooperation, conducted as part of strategic partnership. According to Maria Zakharova, the BRICS foreign ministers' conference will address "the issues on the global and regional agendas, ensuring peace and security, settlement of acute international conflicts." The meeting will "focus on the issues of coordinating approaches of BRICS states on key international platforms, boosting efforts to jointly counter terrorism and transnational organized crime and ensuring international information security".

As for South Africa, one of the key priorities in the coming years is likely to be directed at exploring the modalities of cooperation between BRICS and the regional organizations of the African continent. The BRICS may be a crucial platform for strengthening South Africa's regional role in Africa and indeed throughout the past several years there has been a marked increase in the outreach activities and interaction at various levels between BRICS countries and their African counterparts in regional organizations. With the opening of the African office of the New Development Bank there may be scope to galvanize the project activity of the Bank not just in South Africa, but in the broader African region. Accordingly, the South African side is likely to be more focused on expanding the scale and the scope of the NDB projects, something that may well feature prominently on this year's agenda of Brazil's presidency.

For China the upcoming meeting in Brazil will be an opportunity to employ both the multilateral and the bilateral tracks in developing ties with BRICS partners – according to the Chinese media, the State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be visiting at the invitation of Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo, will attend the Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Brazil and pay an official visit to the country from July 24 to 26. China will likely seek headway in talks with BRICS counterparts on economic issues pertaining to investment and trade – while major progress is unlikely in the short-term China will likely patiently keep these venues of cooperation on the radar screens in order to tackle them more actively in the coming years.

Overall, the momentum and the focus in BRICS policy agenda may be changing, but the grouping is set to carry on cooperation in areas that are crucial not just for its individual members, but for the global economy as well. The vagaries of electoral cycles could well temporarily affect the tempo of mutual cooperation within BRICS, but the progress in setting the development agenda attained by the group's members throughout the past decade lays sufficient groundwork for further cooperation. Even more of a unifying force for BRICS is not just the legacy of the past decade of cooperation, but the tremendous potential harboured in broadening BRICS cooperation to other developing nations and contributing to resolving global challenges though multilateral cooperation.
Presentation on Russia's Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region (О презентации российской Концепции коллективной безопасности в зоне Персидского залива) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: mofa, national_security

On July 23, Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa and Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov held at the Russian Foreign Ministry a presentation on Russia's Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region for representatives of Arab states, Iran, Turkey, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Arab League and the BRICS countries accredited in Moscow.

Laying out Russia's ideas on how to stabilise the Persian Gulf region, he emphasised that only creating a truly inclusive regional security system can serve as the foundation for ensuring a decent future for all the peoples of this strategically important region of the world. The main principles of the concept are incrementalism, multilateralism and strict observance of international law, primarily the UN Charter and the Security Council resolutions. The looming strategic challenge outlined in the document is creating a holistic mechanism of collective security in the region and cooperation among all the states in the region on an equal basis.

The presentation is intended to foster a constructive discussion of this topic with all interested partners. Russia seeks to continue this dialogue both in official settings and in sociopolitical and expert circles.

The full text of Russia's Collective Security Concept for the Persian Gulf Region is posted on the Foreign Ministry's website.

Sergey Lavrov's opening remarks at talks with South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Naledi Pandor, Rio de Janeiro, July 25, 2019 (Вступительное слово Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе переговоров с Министром международных отношений и сотрудничества ЮАР Н.Пандор «на полях» заседания Совета министров иностранных дел БРИКС, Рио-де-Жанейро, 25 июля 2019 года) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, quotation, foreign_ministers_meeting

Madam Minister,


We appreciate this opportunity to hold a bilateral meeting with you within the framework of the BRICS ministerial meeting.

I believe we should focus on bilateral cooperation in the context of the outcome of the talks held between President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa in Johannesburg in July 2018, as well as their recent meeting in Osaka.

We have an extensive bilateral agenda. I would like us to compare notes and to discuss what we can do to coordinate the work of our ministries and agencies towards this end.

We highly appreciate cooperation with South Africa on international issues at BRICS, the G20 and, of course, the UN.

The situation in the world, including in Africa, is far from being tranquil. We could discuss the further coordination of our efforts to create conditions for the settlement of conflicts, the number of which is growing.

Madam Minister, I am delighted to see you.

Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's participation in the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting (Об участии Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова во встрече глав внешнеполитических ведомств государств БРИКС) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: sergey_lavrov, foreign_ministers_meeting

On July 26, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took part in the BRICS Foreign Minister Meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

The participants held a detailed exchange of opinions on the current issues on the international and regional agenda, maintaining international peace and security, and coordinating BRICS countries' approaches on the key multilateral platforms. The ministers reaffirmed their countries' commitment to the central role of the UN, compliance with international law and peaceful resolution of conflicts.

Prospects for strategic cooperation in the BRICS format were discussed as well as the preparations for the 11th BRICS summit in Brasilia on November 13-14, 2019.

A joint communiqué was adopted on the results of the meeting.
Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations (Встреча министров иностранных дел/международных отношений стран БРИКС, 26 июля 2019 года, Рио-де-Жанейро, Бразилия) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, concluded_agreements, off_docs


26. July 2019, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

  1. The meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs / International Relations took place on 26 July 2019, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, with the representation of the Federative Republic of Brazil, the Russian Federation, the Republic of India, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of South Africa.
  2. The Ministers exchanged views on key issues on the international agenda. They also reviewed with satisfaction the progress of BRICS cooperation featuring mutual respect and understanding, equality, solidarity, openness, inclusiveness and mutually beneficial cooperation. The Ministers agreed to further deepen BRICS three-pillar-driven cooperation in the areas of economy, peace and security and people-to-people exchanges.
  3. The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to upholding and respecting international law and to an international system in which sovereign States cooperate to maintain peace and security, advance sustainable development and ensure the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. They underlined support for multilateralism and the central role of the UN in international affairs, and the commitment to uphold the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations. They reiterated the urgent need to strengthen and reform the multilateral system, including the UN, the WTO, the IMF, and other international organizations. The international system, including international organizations, in particular the United Nations, which Ministers stressed must be driven by Member States, should promote the interests of all. The Ministers reaffirmed the commitment to the principles of mutual respect, sovereign equality, democracy, inclusiveness and strengthened collaboration, and to build a brighter shared future for the global community through mutually beneficial cooperation. To this end, international governance should be more inclusive, representative and participatory.
  4. The Ministers recalled the 2005 World Summit Outcome document and reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN, including its Security Council, with a view to making it more representative, effective, and efficient, and to increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges. China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.
  5. They underscored the importance of sustained efforts aimed at making the United Nations more effective and efficient in implementing its mandates. They encouraged further collaboration amongst the BRICS countries on a better resourced UN, on its administration and budget, on preserving the UN's Member State-driven character and ensuring better oversight of and on strengthening the Organisation.
  6. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to international peace and security and underlined the imperative of countering challenges through political and diplomatic means and the need, in this regard, to avoid all measures, especially coercive measures, that are inconsistent with the Charter of the United Nations. They emphasized the need to continue to work together in the areas of disarmament and non-proliferation, including by ensuring the long-term sustainability of outer space activities as well as prevention of an arms race in outer space. The Ministers acknowledged the relevant work carried out by the UN Group of Governmental Experts on the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space and expressed their disappointment that it was unable to reach consensus on its report. The Ministers noted the unique role of the United Nations Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in elaboration of the 'Space 2030" agenda and its implementation plan, in accordance with the UNGA Resolution 73/6.
  7. The Ministers emphasized the importance to comply with and strengthen the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and on their Destruction (BTWC), including by adopting a Protocol to the Convention that provides for, inter alia, an efficient verification mechanism. They reaffirmed that the BTWC is the core instrument for biological and toxin weapons. Its functions, including in what concerns the UN Security Council, should not be duplicated by other mechanisms.
  8. The Ministers expressed concerns at conflicts and situations in the Middle East and North Africa and several other regions that have significant impact at both the regional and international levels. They concurred that, irrespective of their historic background and distinctive nature, conflicts in those regions should be resolved according to principles of international law, dialogue and negotiations. They endorsed the Media Statement of the Meeting of BRICS Deputy Ministers/Special Envoys (MENA), held in Brasília, on 4 and 5 July 2019 and agreed that those conflicts and situations require sustained assessment and attention.
  9. The Ministers reiterated support for international and national efforts to achieve an "Afghan-led, Afghan-owned" peace and reconciliation process and to build a peaceful, secure, united, stable, prosperous and inclusive country that exists in harmony with its neighbours. They expressed their concern over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan particularly the increase in the number and intensity of terrorist-related attacks on the Afghan National Security Forces, the Government and civilians.
  10. The Ministers welcomed recent developments to achieve the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula and maintain peace and stability in North East Asia. They reaffirmed the commitment for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation.
  11. The Ministers expressed the concern over the heightened tensions in the Gulf region and called for a peaceful political solution through dialogue and diplomatic engagement.
  12. The Ministers deplored recent terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries. They condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever and by whomsoever committed and recognized terrorist acts as criminal and unjustifiable, which should not be associated with any religion, nationality, ethnic group or civilization. They urged for concerted efforts to fight terrorism under UN auspices on a firm international legal basis, recognized the primary role of States and their competent bodies in preventing and countering terrorism and expressed their conviction that a comprehensive approach is necessary to ensure effective results against terrorism, which should include countering radicalisation, recruitment, travel of Foreign Terrorist Fighters, blocking sources and channels of terrorist financing including, for instance, through organised crime by means of money-laundering, supply of weapons, drug trafficking and other criminal activities, dismantling terrorist bases, and countering misuse of the Internet by terrorist entities through misuse of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). They recalled the responsibility of all States to prevent the financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories. They also called for an expedited adoption of the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism in the UN General Assembly. They emphasized the importance of preventing and combating the financing of terrorism and welcomed the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2462 (2019). To address the threat of chemical and biological terrorism, they emphasized the need to launch multilateral negotiations on an international convention for the suppression of acts of chemical and biological terrorism, including at the Conference on Disarmament.
  13. The Ministers recognized progress that has been made on BRICS cooperation in countering terrorism through the BRICS Working Group on Counter Terrorism. They looked forward to the outcomes of the Fourth BRICS Working Group meeting, including the establishment of sub-working groups on specific themes, and the seminar on terrorism to be held in Brazil from July 29th to August 2nd, 2019.
  14. The Ministers also reaffirmed their commitment to support international cooperation in combating illicit financial flows from all types of criminal activity, including within the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the World Customs Organization. In this regard, they underscored the importance of improving mutual exchanges and data sharing. They emphasized the importance of upholding and supporting the objectives of FATF, as well of intensifying cooperation to implement and improve its Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Proliferation.
  15. The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the legal framework related to the resolution of cases of corruption, in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption and other multilateral principles and norms. They encouraged the BRICS Working Group on Anti-Corruption cooperation to continue its work on these issues. The Ministers also underlined their commitment to promote international cooperation on the recovery and return of illicit assets, as well as extradition of fugitives, subject to domestic legal systems.
  16. The Ministers underscored the importance of an open, secure, peaceful, stable accessible and nondiscriminatory environment for information and communications technologies (ICTs). They emphasized the importance of multilaterally agreed norms, rules and principles for the responsible behavior of States in the realm of ICT. They upheld the centrality of the United Nations in discussions on ICT-related security issues, without prejudice to other relevant international fora. In this connection, they welcomed the establishment of a UN open-ended working group on this matter, as well as the launch of a new edition of the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE). While pledging full support to both mechanisms, the Ministers underscored that the dual-track process can provide complementarity and synergies in the international efforts in this matter.
  17. The Ministers expressed their concern about the growth of criminal misuse of ICTs and recognized the increasing gap between the lawful authorization to timely obtain vital evidence and the technological challenges to do so, which is a complex problem that requires urgent and sustained international attention. The Ministers acknowledged the progress made in promoting cooperation according to the BRICS Roadmap of Practical Cooperation on Ensuring Security in the Use of ICTs, and reaffirmed the need to deepen practical cooperation to tackle security threats and challenges in the use of ICTs. The Ministers encouraged the Fifth Meeting of the BRICS Working Group on Security in the use of ICTs to further deepen cooperation in this regard.
  18. The Ministers noted that important events such as the SDG Summit and the UN Climate Action Summit will be held during the 74th UN General Assembly in September, and looked forward to these events to produce positive outcomes. They reaffirmed their commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals and to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement adopted under the principles of the UNFCCC, including the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities, in the light of different national circumstances.
  19. The Ministers emphasized the centrality of people in BRICS and its programmes and supported the efforts in deepening people-to-people exchanges and cultural cooperation, especially in sports, youth, films, education and tourism, so as to enhance mutual understanding, friendship and cooperation amongst its peoples.
  20. Russia, India, China and South Africa extended full support for Brazil in hosting the Eleventh BRICS Summit in 2019 and committed themselves to work together for its success.
  21. The Ministers looked forward to their next meeting on the margins of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's remarks at BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting, Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2019 (Выступление Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова на заседании министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС, Рио-де-Жанейро, 26 июля 2019 года) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, foreign_ministers_meeting, quotation


First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to Foreign Minister of Brazil Ernesto Araujo for the excellent organisation of today's meeting.

Like each of its member countries, BRICS plays a key role in making transition from a unipolar world to a polycentric global structure. Globalisation is changing the global balance of forces in favour of developing economies and emerging markets. The focus of economic activity, technological advances and, as a result, political influence is shifting from the Euro-Atlantic to other regions. Such trends are not to the liking of those who would like to slow down these objectively occurring processes of human civilisation and to artificially maintain their dominance, stooping to blackmail, threats, and unfair and unscrupulous competition.

Efforts are being made to undermine international institutions and universal agreements. Instead of genuine multilateral diplomacy, decisions by narrow "interest-based coalitions" are pushed through in order to aggressively impose them later on everyone else. The organisers of such illegal actions are trying to usurp the very notion of the "international community."

To this end, they promote the disingenuously named "rules-based order". This is an attempt to create a pseudo-legal reality to justify actions seeking to contain competitors. These notorious "rules" often constitute direct violation of international law and are meant to replace it. We observe this in a number of international organisations, in particular, in what is happening with the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. All this is done in order to ensure the monopoly of our Western colleagues on decision-making regarding global issues.

Russia firmly believes that international law and, above all, the UN Charter constitute the foundation of peace, security and state-to-state communication in the current era of turbulent change. Violations of its core goals and principles are resulting in increased tensions and violence in the Middle East, North Africa and other regions of the world, the expansion of untenable practices of unilateral coercive measures in circumvention of the UN Security Council, and the extraterritorial application of national laws.

The path to overcoming any crisis, be it on the Korean Peninsula, in Afghanistan, the Middle East or Africa, lies exclusively through equitable dialogue, political and diplomatic solutions with unconditional respect for international legal norms, including respect for sovereignty, the prohibition on interfering in countries' internal affairs and on the use of force or the threat of force. Only such an approach can ensure viable and lasting settlements.

All of the above fully applies to our position regarding the situation in and around Venezuela. It is necessary to rely on international law, to support the efforts of the Venezuelans to resolve their internal problems independently without any external pressure and through talks in strict accordance with the Constitution. In this sense, we see the "Oslo process" meeting as a step towards achieving a sustainable settlement between the Venezuelans themselves. We call upon all external players to actively support this process.
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's statement and answers to questions at a media scrum following the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council meeting, Rio de Janeiro, July 26, 2019 (Выступление и ответы на вопросы СМИ Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова в ходе пресс-подхода по итогам заседания Совета министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС, Рио-де-Жанейро, 26 июля 2019 года) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, quotation, foreign_ministers_meeting

The BRICS foreign ministers' meeting has just ended. Its results are presented in the joint statement which was adopted and is being spread. I will emphasise several points which I think are important.

First, all the BRICS members expressly confirmed their commitment to the principles of international law, the goals and principles of the UN Charter, its central role in matters of peace, security and development. This statement has been worded very clearly, and bears special significance now when all principles of international law are under pressure from those who would like to replace them with some sort of rules. We had an informal and very straightforward conversation about that. We have a shared understanding that universally approved norms and principles of international law must not be allowed to fade away, especially those, as I have said, that are enshrined in the UN Charter.

Second, unequivocal support was expressed for collective efforts to solve all problems exclusively by political and diplomatic means. We stressed that the BRICS countries will advocate exactly this kind of settlement for all current conflicts across the globe. Special emphasis was laid on the problems of the Middle East and North Africa, Afghanistan, the Korean Peninsula, and the Persian Gulf. The need was stressed for all these and other issues to be settled with involvement of all stakeholders including through dialogue which is currently underway on Afghanistan, Syria and other critical situations.

Third, there is a joint position on strategic stability which consists of maintaining maximum possible cooperation based on international law to prevent an arms race and halt the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

In this context, a series of Russian initiatives has been supported. In particular, the annual work of the UN General Assembly on preventing an arms race in outer space. All BRICS members are actively contributing to that work which has been affirmed in the adopted statement. Also, a Russian initiative was supported which was submitted several years ago at the UN Conference on Disarmament but remains blocked, primarily by the United States, on drafting the International Convention for Suppression of Acts of Chemical and Biological Terrorism. A joint position was affirmed in the statement on the necessity to establish a control mechanism over the implementation of the Convention on the Prohibition of Biological and Toxin Weapons (BTWC). We have been long pressing for that with a majority of the nations. So far the United States has been reluctant to make such an agreement.

Speaking about other areas of our cooperation, all the BRICS member countries are united around one of Russia's key initiatives at the UN – international information security (IIS). We have agreed in today's statement to continue active work in the United Nations Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) on international information security which was set up by the UN General Assembly at Russia's initiative.

Our work at the UN on cybercrime issues was also supported. All BRICS participants backed a respective resolution, and today's statement reaffirms our resolve to continue this work in order to reach agreements on the measures to be developed to protect cyberspace from criminal activity.

Support was also expressed for initiatives put forward by Russia and our partners to step up interaction between the BRICS countries on international platforms. We have agreed that our ambassadors to UN organisations and in key bilateral capitals will meet more often and exchange views, including on issues where a common position remains elusive. Such dialogues will assist in the search for shared approaches. Everyone agrees on that, on the usefulness of such work.

I want to make special mention of the fact that work will continue toward drafting a five-party agreement on international information security in addition to the efforts pursued at the UN.

The need to finish practical work on establishing the BRICS Energy Research Cooperation Platform and the BRICS Women's Business Alliance as soon as possible was also affirmed. I think the outcome of the meeting, if we consider how BRICS has fared in the past years, confirms that this association is maturing. The participants sincerely wish to jointly advance our common positions internationally. I believe this is the main conclusion to be made following today's meeting.

We have discussed the foreign policy component of the November BRICS Summit in Brasilia. It appears to be in good shape. I hope our leaders will support the proposals we have drafted for them.

Question: During the BRICS Foreign Ministers Council meeting, Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo said that actions should be taken on Venezuela and also called on his BRICS colleagues to heed the "entreaties" for Venezuela's freedom. Did you have a chance to exchange views with your BRICS colleagues?

Sergey Lavrov: We have reaffirmed our position. We hear and want to hear the voices of all those who are interested in the peaceful settlement of any problem, including Venezuela. We reaffirmed our support for the "Oslo process," launched at the initiative of mediators from Norway, between Nicolas Maduro's government and the opposition headed by Juan Guaido. These contacts are ongoing in the region, in particular, in Barbados. Judging by the comments from the parties, the contacts do have potential.

We have a clear-cut position reiterated in the joint statement: only a peaceful, political, diplomatic settlement involving all stakeholders should be pursued for any conflict. This is exactly what is going on within the "Oslo process." I think we must let Venezuelans come to an agreement among themselves. Trying to dictate the substance of the agreement from outside the country is counter-productive. It will lead to no good.

We have honestly presented our position. Our partners from China, South Africa and India have a similar position. We know that Brazil has a somewhat different position. But let me reiterate, the "Oslo process" is ongoing. It involves the major protagonists. We will support any agreements they will be able to arrive at.

Question: Will you raise the issue of Venezuela at your bilateral meeting with Brazil's Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo?

Sergey Lavrov: We will have a meeting where we will discuss any issues our Brazilian colleagues are interested in.

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's interview with Latin American media and RT, Moscow, July 23, 2019 (Интервью Министра иностранных дел России С.В.Лаврова латиноамериканским СМИ и телеканалу «РТ», Москва, 23 июля 2019 года) / Russia, July, 2019
Keywords: mofa, sergey_lavrov, quotation, jair_bolsonaro

Question: Mr Lavrov, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. Cuba has long been considered a closed-off country, but, for Russia, it opened before and is opening now unlike for any other country. However, the Spanish-language RT channel is part of an open network in many Latin American countries, but not in the friendly nation of Cuba. How important is media presence on the island for Russia? What can be done in this regard?

Sergey Lavrov: I wouldn't say that Cuba was a closed-off country. Europeans and Canadians have long enjoyed vacationing in Cuba and continue to do so. Americans have visited Cuba and, similar to many Russians, enjoyed vacationing there until completely unreasonable bans were introduced.

With regard to the processes that are unfolding in Cuba, we believe that they represent important reforms. A new Constitution has entered into force, economic reforms are under way, the private sector is expanding, and mobile internet is now available.

As far as I know, there is an RT representative in Havana. There may be no daily broadcasting, but news and documentaries run once a week. I believe the company should sit down and talk with our Cuban friends.

I'm convinced that the greater the access to high-quality information that has nothing to do with the fake news now permeating the entire media space, the more interesting it will be and the better people will understand ongoing international processes. I believe that the more actively Russian media work in various countries, all the more so in friendly Cuba, the better it will be for our relations.

Question: What do you think about the US embargo on Cuba? Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, which punishes Cuba, is extraterritorial in nature and runs counter to international law, and is now being used more actively.

Sergey Lavrov: This is absolutely unacceptable behaviour. These sanctions have been in effect for almost 60 years now. They are trying to soften them a little, then ratchet them up again.

By using Title III of the Helms-Burton Act, the United States has once again showed the world its disregard for international law and that it is trying to enforce its own laws on everyone else extraterritorially. It's sad. I think this policy has no future.

An overwhelming majority – over 190 states – votes each year for a resolution demanding the lifting of the trade embargo on Cuba. The United States alone or with two or three of its closest allies (which happens very rarely) vote against this resolution.

To reiterate, I see no future for such a policy. I'm convinced that ultimately the United States will realise that this is a dead-end policy. It will be better if the US conducts business the way it is supposed to be conducted with equal states. No one in the world supports this kind of policy.

Question: Will there be talks in Cuba on the situation in Venezuela and ways to resolve the crisis? Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said that half a million Venezuelans had immigrated to his country.

Sergey Lavrov: We know that many Venezuelans have immigrated to Ecuador and other countries.

We have never suspended the dialogue on the situation in Venezuela. We are working hard, talking with all representatives of the Venezuelan political landscape, I mean the government and the opposition, and people representing Juan Guaido are seeking contact with us. We are explaining to them why the attempts to resolve domestic issues by provoking external interference, like the regular threats by the US that we are seeing, are unacceptable: all options are on the table.

The situation in Venezuela seems to be changing for the better. At first there were several initiatives. The so-called International Contact Group, that the European Union was pushing forward, was based on an ultimatum – to urgently hold a presidential election and then everything would be fine. The Montevideo Mechanism – Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – supported the idea that the government and the opposition should initiate a dialogue and reach an agreement without any preconditions. This position is much more feasible as it complies with international law.

Ultimately, after the botched attempts to trigger, at one go, another of these colour revolutions from abroad the situation has moved to what we call the Oslo process. This process seeks to secure agreements and compromise between the government and the opposition. Common sense is gradually starting to prevail. Positive comments by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and members of the opposition regarding the course of the negotiations allow me to hope that an agreement that will suit everyone can be reached. This will primarily be in the interests of the Venezuelan people.

Question: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said after a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G20 summit in Osaka that he would not like to engage in controversy with his Russian counterpart on the subject of Venezuela, because, in his opinion, the future of the world was decided by nuclear powers and he was unwilling to argue with one of them. To what extent is the situation in Venezuela influencing Russia's relations with the countries in the region? How could Brazil's antagonistic position on the Venezuelan issue affect interaction within BRICS?

Sergey Lavrov: I do not think that this is an antagonistic position. Nor do I think that President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil meant what has just been said, namely, that all matters in the world are decided by the nuclear powers alone. This is not so at all. And the developments involving Venezuela are the best confirmation of this claim.

If everything were decided by the nuclear powers, the United States would have long had its way with deposing the legitimate president and the legitimate government in that country. But the situation has proved much more complex. Many countries in the region would not accept any use of force. Even those insisting on President Maduro's immediate resignation are totally unreceptive to the idea of a military scenario. International law does work after all and enjoys support from the overwhelming majority of countries in the region. I am confident that Brazil is among these countries. There is no doubt that the Brazilians do not want any war over Venezuela, even though they are strongly opposed to the current authorities.

As far as BRICS is concerned, President Bolsonaro went on record as saying immediately after being elected that he would preserve continuity and that he would continue to participate in BRICS. Right now, the Brazilians are making preparations for a summit, which will take place in the autumn. Just a few days from now, Rio de Janeiro will be hosting a BRICS ministerial meeting. We will consider matters that need to be addressed as part of the preparations for the summit. Brazil is very active as the current BRICS chairman: it is holding several dozen events, including many ministerial ones. I have no reasons to believe that Brazil will review its fundamental approaches in favour of preserving and developing BRICS, which will reflect, by this virtue, the multipolar world realities. These realities, incidentally, manifest themselves not only in the BRICS format but also in the G20 format, a key years-long mechanism dealing with international economic and financial issues. The West – all on its own and without BRICS and BRICS+ countries holding positions similar to ours – can no longer tackle any world-scale economic and financial matters.

What our US colleagues are attempting to achieve now by extending their unilateral sanctions to all participants in the international relations and thus seeking to gain momentary advantages cannot last long. They are doing themselves more harm than good because the dollar and confidence in the dollar have declined sharply. When a leading world economy is abusing its status so rudely and attempting to punish all others in order to unfairly obtain competitive advantages, this will eventually play a dirty trick on the Americans.

Question: Russia is upholding the idea of a fair multipolar world, which runs against the US policy of global hegemony. The examples include Cuba, Venezuela and Syria. What could Russia do in this situation?

Sergey Lavrov: We discussed this just now. It is a multifaceted world. There is a growing number of impressive examples of rising economies: China and India are growing exponentially in the economy, creating new centres of economic and financial influence that also earn them political clout. It would be unwise and useless to ignore this fact. True, unilateral sanctions, tough ultimatums and the exterritorial application of national laws can produce an effect that would last several years. But there is no doubt whatsoever that in the long run the United States will have to accept the fact that global economic development is impossible without agreements, fair decisions and respect for the rules, which must be the same for everyone.

I am confident that BRICS and G20 are working in line with this historical trend and that we are "on the right side of history," as our American colleagues love to say. At present, they are not quite on the right side though.

Question: You have mentioned the embargo against Cuba and noted that it is a dead-end policy. President Vladimir Putin said several days ago that there would be no sanctions against Georgia. Could this be an exceptional example that will encourage the United States to change its attitude toward the embargo?

Sergey Lavrov: We never tried to aggravate our relations with Georgia. It was the Georgian authorities led by Mikheil Saakashvili who severed our diplomatic relations and did their utmost to curtail our economic ties. But economic interests ultimately prevailed. Georgian producers remember how close our trade and investment relations were. Mutual trade has resumed now, and I don't think anyone feels uncomfortable about this.

This happens because our Western colleagues, above all the United States, are doing everything within their power to tear our neighbours away from Russia. You may remember that in 2008, when President Saakashvili completely lost touch with reality, he decided to use armed force to settle all his problems with South Ossetia and subsequently Abkhazia, ignoring numerous warnings, including those made by President Putin. Dozens of American instructors trained the Georgian special operations forces and other units. The order to seize South Ossetia was a criminal decision per se. Everyone is aware of this. He [Saakashvili] attacked his own citizens as well as the peacekeepers, some of whom were Russian nationals. The Tagliavini Report commissioned by the European Union came to a clear conclusion that it was Saakashvili who started the war. As I said, we have no negative feelings or prejudice against the Georgian people. On the contrary, we have lived together for centuries and respect each other's culture and customs.

I cannot say if the United States will draw any conclusion from President Putin's refusal to impose sanctions on Georgia. The United States is a specific country with its own traditions, most of them great-power ones. I regret to say this, because I am confident that if the United States adopted a level-headed policy of mutual respect in relations with all of its partners, including Russia, China, the EU or any other country, we would find much more effective and reliable solutions to global problems.

We maintain dialogue with Washington, trying to explain our position on various international developments. The recent meeting between President Putin and President Trump in Osaka showed that the US president is willing, by and large, to look for mutually acceptable solutions. Time will show if this willingness is translated into action by the foot soldiers.

Question: You are planning to visit Cuba, and we know that Russia and Cuba have been seeking to strengthen their strategic relations. What topics do you intend to discuss with the country's senior officials?

Sergey Lavrov: It is always a great pleasure for me to visit Cuba. I strongly believe that we will have useful talks with the Cuban leadership, as we always do, and will discuss our relations in all their aspects. We share substantial and multifaceted economic, cultural, humanitarian and foreign policy ties.

We will pay special attention to the question of how we can promote the principles of justice and international law in today's world. An informal working group has taken shape in New York in connection with the developments in Venezuela to support the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. This group includes Cuba, Russia and a number of other countries. As part of our joint efforts to stand up for the principles of international law we have held recently a workshop on unilateral sanctions at the UN Vienna office. Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, China and many other countries proactively contributed to this event. The extent to which our joint efforts are successful will depend on our persistence in demonstrating our principled position on all international matters.

Question: The United States has been expanding its military cooperation with a number of countries, for example, Ecuador. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently visited this country. There were statements on intentions to increase the number of US troops near the Islamic Republic of Iran. What do you think about these steps?

Sergey Lavrov: Ramping up military presence has never facilitated steady development in any region. There is nothing to add to what has already been said on the developments in and around Iran. An agreement was reached in 2015, unanimously praised as the highest achievement in today's diplomacy. It was approved by a UN Security Council resolution that is binding for everyone. But then the United States decided that the agreement did not suit it anymore because it was negotiated by the preceding administration. This stance results to some extent from the domestic political infighting and tensions between Democrats and Republicans. Nevertheless, the US firmly refused to abide by this UN Security Council resolution, and did not stop at that. The US went as far as prohibit all other countries to execute this resolution. This is a paradox that would have been funny if it had not been so serious. A number of hotheads in Washington are eager to resolve the Iranian problem by military means. We do not believe that President Donald Trump has this attitude. I have a feeling that he does not share these views. Unfortunately, many US politicians are still exploring this option. It is my belief that this would be an extremely dangerous development. This region has suffered from Washington's reckless policies on multiple occasions, for example in Iraq and Libya. After that the so-called coalition wanted to reproduce what had happened in Iraq and Libya in Syria. Fortunately, together with our Turkish and Iranian colleagues we have been able to avert this, and are making progress on the way to a political settlement.

I strongly believe that Iran must be part of a solution to the challenges the region is facing instead of being viewed as the main culprit of what is happening there. For more than 10 years now we have been saying that the Gulf countries, including both Arab countries and the Islamic Republic of Iran, must agree on measures to build confidence and ensure military transparency with the support of the Arab League, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. I also believe that there is no getting away from this. Presenting Iran as the main culprit of what is happening in Syria, on Palestinian territories, in Yemen and in neighbouring countries is tantamount to a confrontational policy which will not help to solve the existing problems. I have no doubt that Iran has to be part of the dialogue, and we have been discussing this with our US and Israeli colleagues. I also believe without any doubt that our efforts to promote this position will gather momentum, since more and more countries come to realise that scenarios of rogue military aggression lead nowhere.

Question: Is there a threat of the US expanding its military footprint in Latin America?

Sergey Lavrov: We were surprised by statements coming from US officials that the Monroe Doctrine is alive. When the US adopted its aggressive stance on Venezuela, it was said that it would not stop there, and will be followed by Cuba and Nicaragua. This position is utterly arrogant. Hearing such things is very rare in today's world. But the statement whereby the Monroe Doctrine is still alive is a fact. We have heard statements to this effect from John Bolton, the National Security Advisor to the President of the United States.

It is also my belief that this will never bring glory to US foreign policy. Even those of the Latin American countries who supported the United States in pursuing regime change in Venezuela will never agree to a military scenario. If at the end of the day someone in Washington actually decides to use force, I have no doubt that Latin America in its entirety will oppose this move. The countries in this region have long believed that unconstitutional regime change is unacceptable. This is one of the core principles for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States. I think that Latin American countries have a sense of dignity and justice. With all this in mind, we hope that peaceful solutions and ways out of this crisis in Venezuela or elsewhere will be found.

Investment and Finance
Investment and finance in BRICS
Brazilian diplomat sees BRICS as expression of new economic reality (Бразильский дипломат рассматривает БРИКС как выражение новой экономической реальности) / China, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting, quotation, economic_challenges

RIO DE JANEIRO, July 27 (Xinhua) -- The BRICS group represents not an ideological manifestation, but expresses a new economic reality, Brazilian diplomat Roberto Jaguaribe said here on Friday.

Jaguaribe, who currently serves as Brazil's ambassador to Germany and previously held the position of ambassador to China, said that the bloc, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, is a reflection of the rising relevance of its member countries.

"Developing nations grow twice as fast as developed countries, and that tends to demand new forums of representation. Thus, BRICS is not an ideological manifestation -- in fact, it tried really hard not to do so -- but represents an expression of a new economic reality," he said.

Jaguaribe made the remarks at a seminar themed "45 years of Brazil-China diplomatic relations: from trade to a global partnership," organized by the Brazilian Center for International Relations to commemorate the 45 anniversary of China-Brazil diplomatic relations.

Coined by former Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill in 2001, the term "BRIC" referred to Brazil, Russia, India and China, four emerging markets with fast growth and great potential. In 2010, South Africa joined the group, and the acronym was changed to BRICS.

As of 2018, these five countries represent about 23 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP).

Political Events
Political events in the public life of BRICS
Why did EAM Jaishankar skip BRICS foreign ministers' meet? (Почему ЕАМ Джайшанкар пропустил встречу министров иностранных дел стран БРИКС?) / India, July, 2019
Keywords: foreign_ministers_meeting

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has cancelled his previously announced trip to Brazil to attend a meeting of BRICS foreign ministers.

Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Raveesh Kumar said on Thursday that India is being represented at the BRICS meeting by Gen. (retd) V.K. Singh, who is the Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways. Singh was a Minister of State in the MEA in the previous NDA government and used to look after affairs relating to Latin America.

"What I understand is that the External Affairs Minister has some parliamentary commitments and, therefore, it was decided that Singh will represent India at BRICS foreign ministers meeting," said Kumar.

On July 18, the MEA had announced that Jaishankar will attend the BRICS meeting on July 25-26.

Last month, leaders of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) had a "successful" informal summit on the sidelines of G20 Summit in Osaka, Japan.

World of work
Social policy, trade unions, actions
2019 QS World University Rankings: BRICS Supplement (Рейтинг университетов QS World 2019: приложение по БРИКС) / United Kingdom, July, 2019
Keywords: social_issues, rating
United Kingdom

Welcome to the 2019 edition of our QS World University Rankings: BRICS. There was a vast increase in the number of universities ranked this year, with 400 representing an increase of 100 institutions from our 2018 edition. This is testament to our expanding datasets and our increasing evaluative capacity.

The other exciting development in the BRICS ranking for 2019 is that it forms the parent ranking for two new locational rankings – the QS Mainland China University Rankings 2019 and the QS India University Rankings 2019.

The methodology for our BRICS ranking was compiled using the following eight indicators:
  • Academic Reputation
  • Employer Reputation
  • Faculty/ Student Ratio
  • Paper per Faculty
  • Citations per Paper
  • Staff with PhD
  • Proportion of International Faculty
  • Proportion of International Students
Made on