Brazilian President to arrive in Portugal; tensions with the EU

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to arrive in Portugal on Friday amid rising tensions with the European Union over his stance on the war in Ukraine after he hinted that the overrun country and the West shared responsibility for the conflict.

Lula said last weekend during a tour of the United Arab Emirates and China that both Ukraine and Russia had decided to go to war, and that the United States was “fomenting” the fighting.

Earlier this month, Lula upset Ukraine, the U.S. and the EU when he proposed that Ukraine cede Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014, to end the current conflict.

Lula also welcomed Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavroven Brasilia on Monday. The following day, Lula condemned the “violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity” while pushing his proposal that a club of nations, including Brazil, mediate a peaceful solution to the war.

Lula’s visit to Portugal is an opportunity to repair some of the damage his comments caused to Brazil-EU relations, said Guilherme Casarões, a political scientist at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a think tank and university in Sao Paulo.

“It could be an important step for Lula to show that he really wants to adopt a balancing or equidistant position between the parties involved in the conflict, which could allow Brazil to play the role of mediator in the medium term,” Casarões said.

Lula is scheduled to meet with the president and prime minister of Portugal this weekend and to attend with several ministers the summit between the two countries.

He is also scheduled to attend Monday’s award ceremony for Brazilian musician and writer Chico Buarque.

Lula is scheduled to address the Portuguese parliament on Tuesday on the anniversary of the 1974 Carnation Revolution that ended half a century of authoritarian rule in Portugal.

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