- "We respect your sovereignty. This is your country. However, fires in the Amazon are a matter for the whole planet," Macron said.
- Bolsonaro and Macron have been in sharp conflict in recent days, including on the fires.
- According to official data, forest fires in Brazil are more than 80 percent larger this year compared to the same period in 2018.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro said on Tuesday that he would consider accepting financial assistance from the G7 countries to fight the Amazon forest fires only when French President Emmanuel Macron “withdrew his words.” This is another episode of the feud between the two leaders.
“First of all, Macron has to withdraw his insults. He called me a liar. Before we talk or accept anything from France . . . he must withdraw these words then we can talk,” Bolsonaro said. “First he withdraws, then offers [aid], then I will answer.”
Macron announced on Monday that G7 leaders would allocate $22 million to save the Amazon forest. However, the chief of staff of President Bolsonaro, Onyx Lorenzoni, said on the Globo portal, “thanks, but maybe these measures are more important for the afforestation of Europe.” Lorenzoni’s office, however, distanced itself from his words, and said it was only his personal opinion.
In response to Macron’s announcement, Brazilian Foreign Minister Ernesto Araujo pointed out that “Brazil will not accept any initiative that relativizes sovereignty over its territory, regardless of pretext or appearance.” The French president, appearing on television after the G7 summit in Biarritz, emphasized, “we respect your sovereignty. This is your country. However, fires in the Amazon are a matter for the whole planet.”
Earlier, the Brazilian Minister for the Environment, Ricardo Salles, said funds were welcome.
Bolsonaro and Macron have been in sharp conflict in recent days, including on the fires. Macron blamed Bolsonaro for this situation, and accused the Brazilian president of lying about environmental measures. Bolsonaro, in turn, accused Macron of “unreasonable attacks,” and “hiding his intentions.”
The Brazilian head of state also accused France and other rich countries of treating the region as their colony. Macron, however, said that Bolsonaro’s interpretation was wrong because the funds were to be allocated not only to Brazil but to the nine countries of the Amazon region. France also maintains an Overseas Department on South America, French Guiana.
Amazon Fires Intentionally Started
According to official data, forest fires in Brazil are more than 80 percent larger this year compared to the same period in 2018. So far, almost 80,000 fires have been detected this year, of which half have been reported in the Amazon. President Bolsonaro deployed 44,000 soldiers to fight fires and several C-130 Hercules tanker aircraft to extinguish burning forests from the air. Defense Minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva has insisted that the fires are under control.
Amazon rainforest fires are normal at this time of year. However, this time, environmentalists say that a significant proportion of these fires are intentionally ignited by farmers who want to expand pastures and arable land in this way.