New Conference Redefines Atlantic Relationship
~ Atlantic Dialogues launches with focus on bringing South America,
Africa, Caribbean into conversation with United States, Europe ~
RABAT, Morocco (September 28, 2012) – On the opening day of The Atlantic Dialogues, a growing chorus emerged on the importance of the global South and called for a new way of thinking about the Atlantic as a geopolitical space.
“What is driving this rethinking of mental maps regarding the larger Atlantic is really the reemergence of Brazil and South America as significant global players,” said Thomas Shannon, U.S. ambassador to Brazil, who was pressed on the Obama administration’s recently announced “pivot” to Asia.
“The North Atlantic alliance was the product of warfare and the consequences of warfare, and the competition with the Soviet Union,” Shannon said while speaking on a panel that framed the weekend’s discussions. “The southern Atlantic and the new Atlantic is really a product of opportunity, and I think in that sense my colleagues in Washington are very prepared to rethink the Atlantic.”
Shannon was speaking at The Atlantic Dialogues, a high-level gathering of international public- and private-sector leaders from around the Atlantic Basin. The Atlantic Dialogues is organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in partnership with the OCP Foundation of Morocco.
“This is the first of what we hope will be an annual meeting of the Atlantic community, a community brought together by common challenges and opportunities and not divided by North and South,” said GMF President Craig Kennedy.
“The next growth area is Africa, and yet, policies and business strategies conceived in the North consider Africa as a problem, not as an opportunity,” said Mostafa Terrab, chairman and CEO of OCP Group.
One concern for the panelists was China’s role across the South Atlantic. While those in the North Atlantic often view the country’s rise as a threat, those in the South do not necessarily view China that way.
“If you see the vibrancy of economic development in Africa over the last several years, you see that China has a very positive role in that,” said Jose Humberto de Brito Cruz, senior advisor in the policy planning unit of the Brazil ministry of foreign relations. “And Brazil is also increasingly present in Africa, but we don’t see that as a competition.
“It is not a zero-sum game,” he said. “We believe all countries like Brazil and China, Portugal, [and] the United States, for that matter, have the possibility of helping and working with African countries to deal with very concrete problems, so I really don’t think the idea of competition should develop.”
Luis Amado, the former Portuguese foreign minister, said that China’s influence in South America and Africa was becoming as important as more traditional geopolitical relationships. “It’s not the American relation(ship), it’s not the European relation(ship) anymore,” he said.
The Atlantic Dialogues is a high-level gathering of international public- and private-sector leaders from around the Atlantic Basin. The Atlantic Dialogues is organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF) in partnership with the OCP Foundation of Morocco. For three days, more than 300 participants from North and South America, the Caribbean, Africa, Europe, and Asia are engaging in interactive panels and smaller break-out sessions to discuss cross-regional issues ranging from security to economics and migration to energy. Participants come from the governmental, business, think tank, and media sectors representing 45 countries.