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I am pleased to address Your Excellencies at this opening session of the “Dialogues on Foreign Policy”. This series of meetings which Itamaraty (the Brazilian Ministry of External Relations) opens today aims to promote a debate among the Government, the Congress, the Judiciary and the civil society on the broad lines and main themes of the Brazilian foreign policy.

Over the next month, the Dialogues on Foreign Policy will bring together public authorities as well as representatives from academia, the press, social movements, non–governmental organizations, unions and the business community.

In this opening session among government representatives, I would like to thank participants from Congress, the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency of the Republic, the various Ministries and heads of Itamaraty for their presence.

Dialogue is a proper tool of diplomacy, which has been defined as “the dialogue between countries”. In modern democracies, like Brazil, this diplomatic dialogue is not restricted to the international level. Foreign policy themes have increasingly mobilized the interest and attention within the country, as a result of Brazil's increasing global influence and a growing perception domestically on the relevance of international affairs, their complexity and impact on our reality and destinies. Today, the diplomatic dialogue is also a dialogue within the country.

The world has undergone significant transformations, and the place of Brazil in it has changed. These transformations relate to the distribution of global power. The contours of a multipolar configuration of geopolitics and world geo-economy are being outlined. The decentralization of economic and political power in the international space has given greater voice and weight to emerging countries. And the structuring of global trade in global value chains, interlinking production, investment and trade, as well as the major regional negotiations, present challenges to the participation of Brazil in global economy I have just returned from Brussels, where Brazil has reasserted, along with its European partners, its commitment to the conclusion of an agreement between MERCOSUR and the European Union.

At the same time, Brazil's relations with its neighbors in South America have been strengthening, and there is common interest in deepening political stability and economic prosperity in the region. A number of initiatives in the area of regional integration have been consolidated among Latin American countries, such as MERCOSUR, UNASUR and CELAC. New bilateral relations among developing countries have become more salient, without prejudice to our traditional bilateral relations. We have created new plurilateral coordination mechanisms, such as IBSA, BRICS and BASIC.

The international agenda has grown in scope and nowadays a classic foreign policy agenda -- comprising such topics as international peace and security, regional integration, bilateral political relations and economic diplomacy -- coexists with a new agenda, which covers such issues as the fight against hunger and poverty and the social programs; sustainable development; climate change; the promotion of privacy and human rights in general and, more recently, Internet governance.

At the same time, there have been deepening challenges regarding the improvement of governance rules and institutions on which the international order rests: the reform of the UN Security Council, which still reflects the geopolitical configuration of 1945; the conclusion of the Doha Round started in 2001 and the strengthening of multilateral trade rules embodied in the WTO; the reform of the IMF quota system; and strengthening the role of the G20, replacing the G8 as the main international forum for economic and financial coordination.

Furthermore, there have been growing demands from other countries and institutions to cooperate with Brazil in several areas, especially in the social field. Brazil has become a worldwide reference for social inclusion and poverty eradication programs. We are viewed as an example to follow of a country that has been able to spur growth with income distribution within a democratic context. This is a topic that always comes up whenever I meet my counterparts, who always show an interesting learning about Brazilian experience with social programs.

Another task that has been growing is the provision of an increasingly broad and efficient assistance to Brazilian citizens overseas.

The combination of these major transformations in Brazil and worldwide has significant effects on the formulation and implementation of Brazil's foreign policy.

I have emphasized that foreign policy is an essential part of the Brazilian national development project – namely in the economic, political, social and cultural areas. As an instrument for development, foreign policy without a long-term strategic perspective risks becoming reactive and adrift. A foreign policy disconnected from the aspirations of society will find itself wanting of support.

Itamaraty fulfils, in an active and inclusive manner, its role in coordinating the Brazilian Government's international action, in accordance with the guidelines established by President Dilma Rousseff. In carrying out these functions, Itamaraty must always be open to dialogue with all sectors of society. We also have to work very closely with Congress, the Judiciary, and other federal, state and municipal government bodies, and must be attuned to advice, recommendations and constructive criticism, always with a view to improving Brazil's foreign service and policy.

Since the beginning of my tenure I have sought to reinforce Itamaraty's unit in charge of foreign policy strategic planning , with the objective of reflecting upon Brazilian foreign policy as a whole, in particular its interests, goals, priorities and challenges in the long term. I have also given utmost importance to engaging the various segments of society in the foreign policy debate.

I have no doubt that our foreign policy needs to be increasingly debated and understood.

Itamaraty wishes to strengthen the foundations of a permanent and continuous process of dialogue with the Brazilian society.

The Dialogues on Foreign Policy are part of this process. Dialogue is obviously not exhausted with these events. I am sure that this exercise will open up doors and channels for further discussion. I want the several units of Itamaraty to be permanently open to dialogue with society, with all governmental and non-governmental actors that need to be heard and consulted.

The contribution to be made in the course of the Dialogues on Foreign Policy will serve as subsidies for the elaboration by Itamaraty of a White Paper on the Brazilian Foreign Policy. The purpose of the White Paper is to register and disseminate the principles, priorities and lines of action of our foreign policy, as well as to foster understanding and public scrutiny of the work performed by the Ministry of External Relations.

Itamaraty therefore seeks to strengthen long-term strategic thinking and further dialogue with other Ministries, Congress, the Judiciary and civil society in the formulation and implementation of foreign policy.

I believe that, with initiatives such as the Dialogue on Foreign Policy, Itamaraty can give its modest contribution to the continuous improvement of democratic debate on public policies implemented in the country.

The Secretary-General of External Relations will subsequently present the structure and schedule of the Dialogues on Foreign Policy. Before giving the floor to him, I would like to invite Your Excellencies to participate in the closing session of the Dialogues next April 2nd, when a report of the discussions made throughout March will be presented by representatives from government and civil society.

Thank you very much.

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