Brazil will have to gradually increase its expenses on defense to the average of the other original members of the Brics – India, China and Russia – in order to make its defense structure more compatible to its new importance on the world stage. The advice was given on Thursday (26) by the minister of Defense, Celso Amorim, during a public hearing held at the Committee on External Relations and National Defense.
Despite recognizing the government’s efforts to increase investments in the Army modernization, the minister mentioned data from a Swedish institute of international relations to compare the Brazilian situation with other emerging nations. He informed that, while Brazil’s expenses on defense are limited to 1.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the average of the original Brics – without South Africa, recently included country – reaches 2.3% of the GDP.
“If we want to speak as one of the Brics, our defense budget will have to reach their average budgets. This is not only a matter of government, but also of the society, which has to understand that those investments are important,” Amorim stated.
With the objective of showing the new Brazilian role in the world, the minister compared the meeting he had in Brasilia with former United States Secretary of Defense William Perry, 18 years ago, when he was the minister of External Relations, with the meeting with the current United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, a few days ago.
“When I welcomed Perry, it was said that Brazil did not have to develop its defense potential because there was a superpower which would take care of everything. Our Army would be responsible only for combating drug trafficking and organized crime. Nowadays the point of view is completely different. The current secretary said that, in the contemporary world, other countries need to be able to face defense challenges,” Amorim reported.
During his speech, the minister highlighted the importance of defense cooperation with the other countries in South America, which he called “peace and security area.” He mentioned, among other initiatives, the Argentinian interest in the Guarani armored and the discussion about the acquisition, by the Brazilian government, of bulletproof landing crafts to patrol Amazon’s rivers.
Amorim showed concern about Western Africa – especially with the coup d’état occurred a few weeks ago in Guinea Bissau. Besides the solidarity to the Portuguese-speaking country, there is a concern about Brazilians’ security, since, he observed, the political instability of Guinea Bissau might lead such country (3200 kilometers from Brazil) to become a “bankrupt State submitted to drug trafficking threats.”
By the end of the meeting, the committee’s chairman, senator Fernando Collor (PTB-AL), observed that the needs of the Brazilian defense increase along with Brazil’s international importance.
“Sovereignty is a key-word. Sovereignty is directly connected to the operational ability of the Army. Our diplomacy is competent, but we are on a stage in which we need to have a strong deterrence that can be seen by the rest of the world,” Collor stated.
Source: Agência Senado - News agency of the Brazilian Senate