Türkiye'nin en iyi köşe yazarları en güzel köşe yazıları ile Hürriyet'te! Usta yazarlar ve gündemi değerlendiren köşe yazılarını takip edin.

Lula reiterates ’fight against poverty’ in Istanbul

Some leaders are remembered for certain words they use. The late Professor Türkan Saylan, to whom we said farewell earlier this week, is remembered for "leper" and "girls’ education", one thinks of Brazilian President Lula da Silva upon hearing the words of "poverty" and "hunger".

This is true for me at least because when I listened to Lula at the 2003 World Economic Forum in the Swiss town of Davos, he emphasized these two words during his striking speech.

I do remember that he had just taken over the office in January of 2003 and come from Porto Alegre, the city hosted World Social Forum.

The Brazilian Labor Party under da Silva led this forum in Porto Alegre.

He was in Davos as a politician who was able to reach out to both the poor and the rich. If I am not mistaking, he said: "I came here with the message of hundreds of thousands. Those in Porto Alegre and those in Davos should sit together and talk."

And he had added that millions in Brazil went hungry and that he would work for them to have three meals a day. Six years has passed since then.

Poverty and average administrators

This time, three days ago da Silva was in Istanbul. I attended the Turkey-Brazil Business Forum at Çırağan Palace. As he is the first Brazilian president to visit Turkey, I remembered his remarks above. Back then, I thought he was quite a "utopist".

How wrong I was! In Istanbul, Lula uttered the word "poverty" again.

"We shouldn’t hesitate from commercial relations.

We should act quickly. Otherwise, we will be poor again at the end of the 21st century. Our poverty is because of the average administrators we have had for decades," he said.

As Lula took office he made the "fight against poverty" the number one item on his agenda. Due to his background in trade unions, he truly believes that governments should serve the poor not to the rich.

For the past six years he’s been in office, da Silva has reached out to 11 million poor families. The Brazilian President has managed to increase minimum wage, provided special low interest credits for the poor and achieved land reforms.

As he put it, "magical things" were happening in Brazil. As I watched him on television, da Silva was drawing parallels between Brazil and Turkey. He meant Brazil had already achieved this so Turkey could through similar policies.

Why not? Before Lula, who could’ve expected that Brazil would make such a big leap forward? And now Brazil is the member of the rising stars known in short as the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China).

These four countries will leave their mark on the upcoming years.

They are expected to account for 40 percent of world growth by 2050. Lula’s arrival to Turkey from the BRIC member China is another aspect of the issue.

The Brazilian President visited the Chinese capital, Beijing, seeking a strategic partnership and more Chinese investments in his country. On his way back to Brazil, da Silva stopped off in Turkey.

And that should certainly be for a purpose. It will benefit Turkey if it closely follows developments in Brazil from now on.
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