By conducting a closer dialogue with Iran and other partners in the Middle East, Brazil is contributing to a more prosperous, fairer and safer world.
A major avenue of cooperation is being reopened between Brazil and Iran. That is the main conclusion I bring back from Tehran, where I made an official visit ten days ago.
On the international stage, Iran is undergoing a phase of rapid reintegration. The main indicator of this is the nuclear agreement the country signed in July with the group composed of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany. The agreement precipitated a period of intense diplomatic activity and a succession of high-level visits to Iran. Diplomatic bridges are being built or rebuilt.
Brazil celebrates the agreement. The understanding that has been reached is a victory for dialogue over confrontation – which is also a traditional principle and permanent vocation of Brazilian foreign policy. More than 50 years ago, when defending the resumption of relations between Brazil and the Soviet Union, the then foreign minister San Tiago Dantas said: “Peace can’t be maintained if the price we have to pay for it is isolation.”
This was the spirit that motivated our partnership with Turkey in the negotiations leading to the Tehran Declaration of 2010, by which Iran accepted limitations on its nuclear program. The pursuit of an agreement was a complex and difficult, but the cost of an impasse was – and has been shown to be – much higher.
As shown so starkly by the vicious cycle of sanctions, threats and military action in Iraq and Libya, the option of confrontation can have tragic consequences for the international order. The migration crisis – driven by civil wars, sectarianism, institutional weakness and poverty – is just the most visible face of the instability affecting various parts of the world.
The Iran agreement will contribute to building trust between the parties involved and to promoting stability in the Middle East. It was in this favorable context, one in which opportunities arose for Brazil, that I made the trip to Tehran.
Iran is our biggest trading partner in the region. There are great opportunities for Brazilian companies to exploit in areas such as agribusiness, energy, mining and infrastructure. With the lifting of Security Council sanctions, the prospects for trade and investment have become even more promising.
In 2011, for example, Brazil-Iran bilateral trade reached $ 2.3 billion, before being affected by the sanctions regime and falling to $ 1.4 billion last year.
We also want to strengthen the open dialogue that has always characterized our relations with Iran. I took with me a strong message of support and encouragement from the Brazilian government for the peaceful settlement of disputes in the region.
Brazil has responded positively to Iran’s proposal to create a mechanism for structured dialogue on human rights. We remain true to our position of fully respecting the universal, integral and indivisible nature of human rights.
My visit to Tehran was the starting point for a series of high-level bilateral visits, which will strengthen cooperation in various sectors. The diversification of partnerships and the strengthening of our presence in the Middle East are an important part of the foreign policy strategy of Dilma Rousseff’s government. The President herself met with the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, two days ago in New York – an occasion on which further bilateral visits were agreed.
Our ties of solidarity gained added visibility a few days ago when a Brazilian corvette on its way to join the United Nations mission in Lebanon diverted from its route to rescue 220 refugees adrift in the Mediterranean – an action that honors our navy and our nation.
By strengthening our dialogue and engagement with partners in the Middle East, Brazil fulfils its responsibility for building solutions in the region and for building a more prosperous, fairer and safer world.
Mauro Vieira, 64, is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil. He has been ambassador to the United States (2010-14) and Argentina (2004-10)