In Paris, Dilma and Hollande say that employment and growth are the solutions to the world economic crisis

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Arguing in favor of a progressive agenda to combat the international crisis, presidents Dilma Rousseff and François Hollande opened “The Forum for Social Progress. Growth as a Solution for the Crisis” in Paris on December 11. The two presidents agreed that the solutions to the crisis involve a commitment to the creation of jobs, to social justice and to the environment. And further, they said that austerity measures, in addition to worsening the crisis, punish the population, and especially the workers.

Hollande said that it was necessary to reform the banks and review speculative activity, and suggested that “An Economic and Social Security Council along the lines of the United Nations Security Council” be created.

To see more pictures and download high resolution images visit Lula Institute’s Picasa.

President Dilma Rousseff said that the use of Orthodox measures has not resolved the problems of this crisis and that the emerging countries would not hesitate to use fiscal stimulus policies to confront it. “I agree with Hollande in the certainty that what is needed is more cooperation and much dialogue, but above all a commitment to growth and to employment.” The president pointed out that despite the slowdown in growth, over the last two years Brazil created 3.7 million jobs. Dilma Rousseff argued that what the euro needs is an effective bank union. “A true European Central Bank, with the power to defend the euro, issue securities and be a lender of last resort” is needed, she said. The president also said that both the maintenance of the euro and the resolution of the crisis in Europe are crucial for Brazil.

After the opening, there was a roundtable of intellectuals to discuss “Sustainable Growth: A Worldwide Challenge”. The discussions in this session concerned the need to return to growth using policies that attempt to reduce inequalities and create sustainable development from the social, economic and ecological point of view.

The discussion commenced with a statement by Nicholas Stern, professor of the London school of economics. In his talk, Stern stressed the need for the creation of new social indicators that would go beyond GDP to measure the actual welfare of the population and pointed out that times of crisis are also times for innovation and the creation of new alternatives.

Anthony Atkinson, a professor at Newfield College, Oxford, said that the economy should not be concerned only with efficiency but should also be concerned with the distribution of income, and a half who should pay for the investments that must be made.

Brazilian economist Luiz Gonzaga Belluzzo, professor at Unicamp, said that he could not understand how Europe could come to abandon the social welfare state and begin to adopt austerity programs that: “in addition to being inefficient, are cruel by nature.”

Smaïl Goumeziane, former foreign trade minister of Algeria, said market regulation was needed. Roger Guernerie, professor of the Collège de France, said that this is neither good nor bad but is something that either works or does not work. Rounding out the discussion, Damos Silvers, the director of strategy and special advisor to the American Federation of Labor And the Congress of Industrial Organizations, (AFL–CIO), spoke of the importance of listening to, and including, workers. Daniel Cohen, vice president of the École d’ Économie de Paris and the chairman of the Committee for Scientific Guidelines of the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, served as the moderator.

The discussions continued on Wednesday (December 12) with four roundtables and summaries by former President Lula and former Prime Minister of France Lionel Jospin.

The entire seminar is being transmitted live with links on the site of the Instituto Lula and the Fundação Jean Jaurès.

“I may be naïve but I believe in politics,” Lula says in Germany

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Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in a conversation today at the Friedrich Ebert Foundation with the leadership of the German Democratic Party – SPD, said that dialog is the principal instrument of international policy.

For photographs and to download high-resolution images please visit Institute Lula’s Picasa.

With the former German Minister of Foreign Relations and leader of the SPD, Frank-Walter Steinmeier at his side, Lula said that the refusal to include developing countries as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and the reluctance to engage in dialogue are part of the same resistance to change in the relations between international powers. “The problem is that those who are there [in power] have no desire to share that power. It’s very comfortable just the way it is.”

He believes that politics can find a way to resolve international conflicts such as, for example, in the Middle East, but the great powers also influence the decisions of the agencies of international government: “I think there are people in the world that have no interest in peace. The people want peace but there are those in government who need conflict to be important. If not, there would be no reason not to have peace in the Middle East. Why can’t the same United Nations that created the state of Israel create a Palestinian state?”

Frank-Walter praised the changes in foreign policy in Brazil and said that he had witnessed Brazil’s efforts to put its desire for dialogue into practice. “What Presdent Lula showed us in South America was that despite the differences in interests between countries his choice was always to dialogue, even with difficult partners. This policy of including all partners [in the dialog] changed South America. And I believe it changed for the better,” he said.

It was the belief that politics should be used to promote world peace that led him to Iran in 2010, said the former president of Brazil. “I left Brazil and went to Iran against the advice of everyone. I was convinced that it was possible to persuade Iran and get them to sign the agreement that the [International Atomic Energy Agency] needed. They said to me: ‘Lula, you are naïve. You believe Ahmadinejad, and he does not tell the truth’. And I replied, I may be naïve, but I believe in politics. Because once I asked, at a meeting in Princeton: Obama, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Sarkosy, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Angela Merkel, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Berlusconi, have you talked to Ahmadinejad? No. Now, if no one is talking to this man, what kind of policy is that?”

He then said the he got him to sign a document that the Agency needed, a commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. “Then I thought that the United Nations Security Council would express their appreciation because we achieved what they had not been able to achieve, and they made a huge demonstration of jealousy and further, resolved to punish Iran,” he said

Financial system
At another point in the conversation, former President Lula talked about the role of the IMF and the inability of that institution the deal with the crisis in the rich countries and suggested rethinking the role of the Financial System.

“When the Berlin Wall fell, many people were depressed. And I said, thank God, the world is free to think differently. I believe this crisis is not a call of desperation it is a call for us to discuss new ideas, to discuss the role of the financial system in the world. The bank should not exist simply to trade securities, it has to finance the productive sector,” he argued.