When U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Brazil later this month, Brazilians will expect him to make a statement supporting our country's inclusion in a reformed U.N. Security Council, as he did regarding India's inclusion in November. It would be a disappointment if Obama does not endorse our drive for a permanent seat on the world's premier international security body -- not just because Brazil deserves a seat but because the council's very legitimacy depends on the inclusion of emerging powers.
Let's take first the simple reality of global power today, which is no longer reflected in the membership of the current council. It's vitally important that developing economies be part of this global body, and it is only natural that Brazil, which is now among the eight largest economies in the world, should be included. If the Brazilian economy is already as big as that of Britain or France -- and ours has room to grow while these others do not -- why should they be there and not us? Or India, which has more than 1 billion people? And why not a single African country? Reform is not a question of ambition of this or that country, but rather a question of the Security Council needing to be representative of the world community.
This is not only a question of making our global institutions as democratic and representative as possible. It's not about a feel-good quest for diverse representation. Reforming the Security Council is vital if the body's decisions are to be taken seriously worldwide. If the council is seen as the coterie of only a few great powers, its decisions are not likely to be respected or received with enthusiasm -- to the detriment of all. Of course, one limiting factor is that the present permanent five, veto-wielding powers on the council are very jealous of their privileges; they don't want to share them.
Yet we emerging powers have much to offer. First, we will bring new perspectives. Take, for example, the Middle East. We will not come with magic solutions -- nobody has magic solutions -- but we will have fresh ideas, and Brazil is an interlocutor that is able to talk to everyone. In the same month in 2009, for example, we received the president of Israel, the president of the Palestinian Authority, and the president of Iran. How many other countries are able to receive visits from these three presidents in just a matter of weeks? It was a demonstration of how well-positioned Brazil is to hold dialogue with countries with different perspectives.
Why can Brazil open doors when today's Security Council cannot? Part of it has to do with our country's pluralistic background -- the cultural and racial mixture of our society. But it's also simply because we are a developing country. A perfect example came last year when Iran rejected a Western proposal under which the country's uranium would be shipped abroad for enrichment up to energy-grade (not weapons-grade) levels. Coming from the West, the agreement met hard resistance from Tehran on everything from its timing to the quantity of uranium required. But when Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and I brought Tehran the same basic agreement, we both spoke from the perspective of fellow developing countries that can understand the problems of other developing countries; everyone is on the same level.
At the same time, Brazil plain and simply has influence. In November, when we decided to recognize a Palestinian state, immediately another eight or 10 Latin American countries did the same. Even some European countries are moving toward having a new kind of relationship with Palestine. To ignore the fact that Brazil has clout in the world would be foolish.
Take Brazil's relationship with Africa. We are one of the few non-African countries that can carry an influence in political discussions on that continent. Five years ago in Guinea-Bissau, when that country faced a huge political crisis, we spoke to Senegal and other countries in the region. They told us that Brazil was welcome to join the mediation, while other countries were not. During my term as foreign minister, I even mentioned this fact to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, arguing that our unique relationship with African countries creates areas for cooperation with the United States -- at a time when other countries, namely China, are very much present in Africa.