EU leaders welcome Lula’s return as Brazil’s president – POLITICO

European leaders are breathing a diplomatic sigh of relief, after left-winger Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva on Sunday defeated far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro in the second round of Brazil’s presidential election.

Lula, who was previously Brazilian president from 2003-2010 and was controversially imprisoned in 2018, won Sunday’s ballot with 50.9 percent of the vote to Bolsonaro’s 49.1. “We are going to live in new times of peace, love and hope,” the president-elect said in his victory speech.

Lula promised a dramatic U-turn in Brazil’s environmental policies, having vowed during his campaign to protect the Amazon rainforest, which suffered from high levels of deforestation under Bolsonaro. In a victory tweet on Sunday, Lula said “Brazil is ready to resume its leading role in the fight against the climate crisis,” adding that he planned to “aim for zero deforestation.”

That dramatic change in policy may unlock negotiations on ratifying a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, officially finalized in 2019, but which had been held back mostly as a result of European concerns, particularly from French President Emmanuel Macron, over the fate of the Amazon rainforest.

“Congratulations, my dear Lula, for your election opening a new page of Brazil’s history,” Macron tweeted overnight. “Together, we will join forces to take up our many common challenges and rebuild the bond of friendship between our two countries.”

Spain’s left-wing Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was also quick to congratulate Lula, saying: “Brazil has decided to bet on progress and hope. Let’s work together for social justice, equality and against climate change.”

U.S. President Joe Biden also chimed in, saying: “I send my congratulations to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on his election to be the next president of Brazil following free, fair, and credible elections. I look forward to working together to continue the cooperation between our two countries in the months and years ahead.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also congratulated the incoming Brazilian leader, saying: “I believe in an active collaboration with a long-time friend of Ukraine, and in the strengthening of the strategic partnership to ensure democracy, peace, security and prosperity in Ukraine, Brazil and worldwide!”

Ukraine had a poor relationship with Bolsonaro, who adopted a “neutral” position toward Russia’s invasion. But things could prove difficult with Lula as well, with the president-elect claiming in an interview with Time in May that Zelenskyy “is as responsible as Putin for the war … Because in the war, there’s not just one person guilty. Saddam Hussein was as guilty as Bush” for the war in Iraq.”

According to Russian state-owned news agency TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Lula in a message: “The vote’s results confirm your high political authority.” He added: “I expect that our joint efforts will ensure further development of constructive Russia-Brazil cooperation in all areas.”

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