Johannesburg, Jun 1 (EFE).- The foreign ministers of the BRICS nations began a meeting in South Africa on Thursday with calls for a multipolar world order to take the place of domination by the West.
Host Naledi Pandor welcomed her counterparts from Brazil, Russia, India, and China to Cape Town for two days of talks intended to lay the ground for a summit of the BRICS heads of state and government set for August in Johannesburg.
“Our vision of BRICS is for our partnership to provide global leadership in a world fractured by competition, geopolitical tension, inequality, and deteriorating global security,” she said in her opening remarks.
South Africa seeks a more “just” and “mutually beneficial” world order, Pandor said.
“The world is changing, the countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa are strengthening their positions and are showing their readiness to maintain their national interests and to play an equal role in the global processes,” Russia’s Sergey Lavrov said, describing the order that was “geared toward creating benefits for one country or group of countries” as “a thing of the past.”
He accused Western nations of trying to bully the Global South into joining the United States and the European Union in condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The West is engaged in blackmail and sanctions trying to influence the choice of the economic model and the trade partners of those countries, limiting their opportunities,” the Russian foreign minister said.
Speaking for Brazil, Mauro Vieira emphasized that his government is committed to increasing its engagement with BRICS, “an indispensable mechanism to build a multipolar world order that reflects the voices and needs of developing countries.
The foreign minister went on to hail the recent appointment of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as head of the BRICS’ New Development Bank (NDB).
“I am certain that under her leadership, the NDB will expand and augment its capacity to identify innovative, inclusive, and sustainable projects,” Vieira said.
India’s foreign minister, S Jaishankar, said that the meeting in Cape Town “must send out a strong message that the world is multipolar, that it is re-balancing, and that old ways cannot address new situations.”
“We are following the trend of a multipolar world and democratising international relations, adhering to a true multilateralism, seeking to strengthen the voice and influence of developing countries in international affairs, promoting the reform and building of global governance,” China’s deputy foreign minister, Ma Zhaoxu, said.
The agenda for the conference includes exploring the possibility of admitting new members to the bloc.
Pandor revealed in March that she had received letters from a dozen countries interested in joining BRICS, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico, and Nigeria.
The foreign ministers of Iran, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, and Saudi Arabia, Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, are taking part in the BRICS meeting in Cape Town.
“There is enormous interest from around the world. And once we have shaped the access criteria, we will make the decision,” Pandor said.
The ministers were also expected to address the plans for the August summit in Johannesburg amid doubt about the attendance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court on charges he forcibly removed children from the war zone in eastern Ukraine to locations inside Russia.
As an ICC member, South Africa would – in principle – be obliged to arrest Putin.
“Our government is currently looking at what the legal options are with respect to this matter,” Pandor told reporters Thursday.
“The answer is the president (Cyril Ramaphosa) will indicate what the final position of South Africa is. As matters stand an invitation has been issued to all (BRICS) heads of state,” she said.
Brazil, Russia, India, and China established what was then called BRIC in 2006. The “S” was added in 2010 with the accession of South Africa. EFE jhb-pa/dr