Malta’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ian Borg held a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro as he travelled to the country to inaugurate Malta’s first-ever embassy in South America.
During the meeting, which was held at Bolsonaro’s private home, Borg gifted the Brazilian leader with an oil painting of the Grand Harbour and said it was an “honour” to meet him.
Malta’s new embassy is situated in Brasilia, where 23 other European embassies are already located, and is spearheaded by diplomat John Aquilina, who was previously Malta’s ambassador to China.
Borg said it is crucial for Malta to have a permanent physical presence in South America, particularly in light of global challenges related to food and energy security.
“This is just the start of an improvement in diplomatic and political relations but also in trade relations,” he said. “Several Brazilians come to Malta to study English, food trade between the two countries already exists, and the EU is negotiating trade relations with the region.”
Bolsonaro, who has been president of Brazil since 2019, is renowned as one of the world’s most controversial leaders, particularly due to his track record with regards to the deforestation of the Amazon.
While Bolsonaro has insisted the loosening of environmental protections will help reduce poverty in Brazil, environmental activists have expressed outrage at trees being felled in the world’s largest tropical rainforest, particularly in light of the global climate change crisis.
Bolsonaro is up for re-election this October but opinion polls strongly suggest he will lose power to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who led Brazil between 2003 and 2010.
Should Malta set up more embassies across South America?