Brazil has a special place in our hearts and it is with great pleasure that the Queen and I today start our second State Visit to your beautiful, interesting and dynamic country. In the days ahead we will visit various parts of Brazil, including São Paulo and the Amazon region.
We have travelled frequently to Brazil over the years, but this is the first time since 1984 that we come here on a State Visit.
Nearly three years ago, in 2007, we had the honour of receiving you, Mr. President and Mrs. Lula da Silva, on an historic first State Visit by a Brazilian President to Sweden.
The relations between our countries are excellent and have a long history. Already in the beginning of the 19th century the Imperial Family of Brazil and the Swedish Royal Family were related, as Dona Amalia de Leuchtenberg, the Empress of Brazil, was the sister of Queen Josephine of Sweden.
And of course the Queen herself — whose mother was Brazilian and borne here — has many beautiful memories from her childhood in Brazil where she went to school from kindergarten until she was 13 years old.
Swedish businesses have been active in Brazil for more than 100 years. Nowadays, over 200 of our companies have a presence here and are actively involved in the development of Brazil, both by employing over 50 000 Brazilian workers and by taking part in a range of infrastructure development programmes. In addition, they contribute to production in Brazil for export to other parts of the world.
Just before lunch we were both present when Brazil and Sweden launched a bilateral Business Forum. In this Forum Swedish and Brazilian companies can address joint challenges and opportunities with a view to bringing their suggestions and ideas forward to the political leaders. Our common goal is to increase trade and investment between our two countries. A constructive and result-oriented dialogue with business partners is important in this regard.
In the past few years Brazil has emerged as one of the important global players with regard to peace and security, human rights and sustainable development. Brazil and Sweden share the same values and we are looking forward to continuing to work with you in multilateral fora to find effective and inclusive solutions to global challenges. Brazil, who currently holds one of the non-permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council, leads the military component of MINUSTAH in Haiti and is also active in other peacekeeping operations. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere and heartfelt condolences for the Brazilian lives lost in the earthquake in Haiti in January of this year. We are impressed by the contributions made by Brazil to the development of Haiti and are confident that Brazil will also play a major role in the ongoing reconstruction of the country.
Brazil and Sweden are also united in the important multilateral effort to combat climate change. The lives of future generations depend on what we manage to do today to safeguard the climate and our environment. I congratulate you on the ambitious national targets that you have set for the reduction of CO2 emissions in Brazil. The area of clean energy carries a lot of potential and offers many opportunities for further collaboration between our countries.
Sweden is the largest European importer of Brazilian ethanol. When you visited our country in 2007, an agreement was signed to cooperate on biofuels and bioenergy and this agreement is currently being implemented. I hope that we will see a lot more of such cooperation including Swedish buses running on biofuel in cities like São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, São Bernardo do Campo and Belo Horisonte.
I also congratulate you on the achievements made in reducing deforestation in the Amazon region. The Queen and I look forward to our visit to São Gabriel de Cachoeira in the Amazonas. At the invitation of Defence Minister Nelson Jobim we will learn more about the social work being done by the local defence in collaboration with the inhabitants, bringing development to the region while at the same time preserving the environment.
I am confident that the strategic partnership between Sweden and Brazil will continue to develop in the years to come and that we will find many areas in which it will be desirable to both deepen and broaden our cooperation. Education, forestry, sustainable development, defence, high technology and innovation are all areas that have already been identified. We are very much looking forward to our visit to Embraer in San José dos Campos and to a possible cooperation between our two countries in the aeronautical field.
Today is an occasion to celebrate the friendship between our two countries but also to promote continuing dialogue and cooperation. Tomorrow the Queen and I will take part in the Brazil-Sweden Day in São Paulo where the focus will be on further cooperation on high technology and innovation. Also tomorrow, the Queen will take part in a regional workshop against trafficking of human beings organised jointly by Brazil, Sweden and the United Nations, as well as in a dialogue on banning corporal punishment for children.
In 2009 the Queen celebrated ten years of the World Childhood Foundation which in Brazil — reaching over 1 million Brazilian children — is working against sexual abuse of children and young girls. The Queen was very impressed by the 3rd World Congress against Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents, which took place in Rio 2008 and was attended by 3000 delegates and which was inaugurated by you, Mr. President. It was a very important and excellent congress. I mention this just to illustrate how broad our partnership is already.
At the same time I also wish to congratulate you on obtaining the prestigious task to host the Olympic Games in 2016. The Queen and I we will certainly try to come to Rio de Janeiro to watch the exciting games.
As an expression of our hope that relations between Brazil and Sweden will be further strengthened and deepened by this State Visit, the Queen and I would like to honour Brazil and the Brazilian people, you, Mr. President and Mrs. Lula da Silva, and your family, with a toast to peace, happiness and prosperity.
Saude! — Skål!