Brazil has reiterated its sovereignty over the Amazon, in response to a comment made by French President Emmanuel Macron who implied that the international community take action to help the world’s largest tropical rainforest from being devastated by massive wildfires.
“No one needs a ‘new initiative for the Amazon’ as President Macron suggests when there are already several mechanisms under the UN Climate Convention to fund the fight against deforestation,” Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo wrote on his Twitter account on Monday.
Deforestation, a contributing factor to the Amazon fires, has reportedly increased since Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January, reports Efe news.
In an interview with French public broadcaster France 2 at the conclusion of the G7 summit in Biarritz on Monday night, Macron said that Bolsonaro’s attitude towards deforestation could derail ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur group.
“We respect your sovereignty. It’s your country,” said Macron, before insisting that the Amazon fires are a global issue.
“The Amazon forest is a subject for the whole planet. We cannot allow you to destroy everything,” he added after previously hinting at the possibility of international joint action for the defence of the Amazon region.
In response to this, Araujo said: “The efforts made by some political currents to extrapolate real environmental issues by transforming them into a fabricated ‘crisis’ as a pretext for introducing mechanisms for external control of the Amazon are very evident. Brazil will not accept any initiative that involves relativizing sovereignty over its territory, whatever the pretext and whatever the guise.”
The Brazilian Armed Forces, deployed by Bolsonaro in the fight against the fires that are destroying part of the Amazon, are already operating in eight of the nine Amazon states, following the request for help presented Monday by the Amapa government.
The mobilization of the troops was announced on August 23 by Bolsonaro as the first measure to fight fires and amid strong condemnation he has received both domestically and abroad for the government’s lack of action against illegal deforestation of the Amazon.
Brazil also claims that forest fires occur every year and that August and September are “critical” because of the drought that affects the area during those months.
The Brazilian government thanked the G7 countries for $20 million of firefighting aid approved Monday, but clarified that it will use it as it sees fit.
The help of the G7 will firstly pay for the sending of firefighters and water bombers to the Amazon. Once the urgency is mitigated, the G7 also plans to launch within the framework of the September UN General Assembly and in coordination with the Amazonian nations, a plan to act for the reforestation and conservation of bio-diversity.
Meanwhile, Uruguay’s Foreign Minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said that the fires “will be overcome” and added that the Amazon rainforest “is a lung of the world involving seven countries, not just Brazil”.
“The problems at the moment are affecting Brazil but it is acting with swiftness… to try to put out these fires,” Novoa said.