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Energy & Economics
Buenos Aires, Argentina, Libertarian supporters at the inauguration of the new Argentine President Javier Milei

Remarks by the President of the Nation, Javier Milei, at the Economic Forum of the Americas (IEFA), at the Four Seasons, CABA

by Javier Milei

Good afternoon everyone, if we’re talking about exploring opportunities, clearly one would have to address growth issues. The problem is that, when one encounters a deeply unbalanced macro situation, growing becomes very difficult, almost I would say impossible. And especially when for many years, relative prices have been distorted and the economy has been put in an imbalanced situation, trying to live in a sort of permanent boom, when the boom comes it’s much more violent. That is why when the correction of relative prices is carried out, it generates a contraction of activity and employment, and the more violent and prolonged the process of overstimulating the economy, the stronger the contraction becomes. In that sense, Argentina has lived – for more than 20 years – under a wild populist regime, which has led to the destruction of capital, the destruction of productivity, which is why we are in an absolute miserable situation. Yes, because populism is not free; wages, in dollars, on average, in the 1990s, were $1,800 and if you adjusted for American inflation that would imply that Argentinian wages, on average, should be $3,000, something like 3 million pesos. And today, luckily, if we exaggerate and become very optimistic, we could say they are $600, which is false because they are lower. This means that Argentinians in this populist adventure have lost 80% of our income, that is the real catastrophe. The consequence of this is that we have more than 50% in poverty and 10% in extreme poverty, or a little more as well. This means that the country, which produces food for 400 million people and has a tax burden on the food production sector of 70%, meaning that the State takes the food from 280 million people, and has 5,000,000 Argentinians who do not have enough to eat, which is the real catastrophe. But it is not only a catastrophe in terms of growth, well-being, employment, and wages, but the inheritance was very complicated, the inheritance we received. I am going to describe the inheritance we received and the measures we have been taking during these first 100 days of government, and it’s not to mourn it, because the reality is that if there was something that became clear with “the Chief”is that we truly managed to win the elections it was because we were truly in a disastrous situation, because for a libertarian liberal, who openly says it, to come to power, it is precisely because the situation was not going to be an easy one. That means they were going to leave us in a very, very difficult situation, because otherwise the populists would continue to win. And for people to wake up the way they are doing, evidently it had to be a very complicated situation. So, I would almost say, we were always prepared to receive this hot potato, and you can see that, because if we hadn’t taken quick measures, we would have blown up several times already. Specifically, when studying, you review the literature on early crisis indicators, when you have twin deficits, by 4 points of GDP, it's a yellow alert; if you have 8 points of GDP it's not only a red alert, but you're going to take a significant hit. We inherited twin deficits of 17 points of GDP, just to give you an idea of the magnitude of the disaster we received. In other words, the size of the hit was going to be colossal; basically, the inheritance had the worst of the three worst crises in Argentina. It had a monetary imbalance worse than what we had before the "Rodrigazo" in 1975; we had an imbalance in the Central Bank's balance worse than what Alfonsín had at the beginning of 1989, which ended in hyperinflation, and worse social indicators than in 2001, that is, before the crisis of 2002. In other words, literally, it was the sum of all evils. In that sense, that twin deficit, of 7 points of GDP, was composed mainly of a 15-point consolidated fiscal deficit. Of those 15 points, 5 corresponded to the Treasury and 10 corresponded to the Central Bank. Furthermore, to give you an idea of the magnitude of the disaster we received, basically, although during the entire previous government, monetary issuance was used to finance the fiscal imbalance, by 28 points of GDP. Of those 28 points, 13 took place in the last year; not a minor issue if you think about it because the monetary base is already - today - 2.6 of GDP, meaning they left behind a quintupling of prices, and if you also look at the Central Bank's balance sheet having holdings in Leliqs, ranging from 30 to 90 days, meaning 30, 60, and 90 days, all converted into overnight loans, which means there was the possibility of multiplying the money supply by 4 in a day. In that context, moreover, during the first week of December, prices were rising by 1% daily, which means that in annual terms, it is 3700% inflation. If it stopped in the first two weeks, that would be 7500% annually, and if you look at what wholesale inflation was in December, which was 54%, that annualized is 17,000%. So, facing hyperinflation, if the economy had already entered a recessionary path in the second and third quarters last year but was fueled by a lot of monetary issuances to try to force an electoral outcome that did not happen, and in that context, it was essential to avoid hyperinflation. But to avoid hyperinflation, it was necessary to implement a very tough stabilization program, a program that we had and that we were only able to announce on the third day, basically because we had the issue of appointments at the Central Bank. And basically, it had the three fundamental elements that any stabilization program has, which were fiscal adjustment, exchange rate correction, and the definition of a new monetary policy. In that sense, for us, the key was to end monetary issuance so that there would be no monetary validation of the price increases, and that it would not escalate and generate hyperinflation. In that sense, along with the devaluation, which was made because basically all we did was bring the exchange rate to the market exchange rate, adjusted by the PAIS Tax, and in that context, on the fiscal front, we decided to adopt what is called a zero-deficit policy. But a true zero deficit, not a lie, meaning a zero deficit in the line of financial result, that is, after paying interests. This is very important because if we achieve a zero deficit in the financial line, it means that the debt no longer grows. And if the debt does not grow anymore, the debt-to-GDP ratio does not increase more, and therefore one becomes temporarily solvent, and the consequence of this is that the PAIS Tax begins to fall, and the interest rate will decrease. Thus, the interest rate regains its essential function, which is to be a mechanism of inter-temporal coordination and for the growth process to be related precisely to the interest rate, the natural interest rate, that is, the market rate, not the rate that a bureaucrat comes up with by meddling from the Central Bank. I clarify to make it clear, this idea of being tinkering... Once, I remember telling someone: "you are worse than Moreno" because Moreno controlled the prices of today, but you want to control the interest rate, which means you want to control the prices of today and the future. Why? Because the interest rate is the relative price of present goods over future goods. So, this would be much more complicated. So, we also began a process of cleaning up the Central Bank's balance sheet, and the reality is that we believed and aimed to achieve a zero deficit by 2024, and we were truly and absolutely committed to carrying out a fiscal adjustment, which obviously involves a lot of chainsaw and a lot of blender, and if we wanted to do it quickly, we had to use both. There is a lot of blender and much more, actually, of chainsaw because we eliminated public works outright, something of which I am deeply proud, considering that public works are a major source of corruption and theft, which I imagine all decent people should oppose. (APPLAUSE). On the other hand, we also completely eliminated discretionary transfers to the provinces; we also laid off 50,000 public employees, not only that but we also terminated contracts, and you see, now, more contracts are being terminated, and 70,000 contracts will be terminated. We also eliminated 200,000 social programs, irregularly delivered, and at no time did we neglect social policy because – in the midst of it all – we doubled the AUH; we doubled the Food Card; we tripled assistance in the One Thousand Days Plan, that is, for pregnant women, and not only that, but we also quadrupled assistance for school supplies and created a mechanism for middle-income families, who attend low-cost private schools, to have a support mechanism so that the children wouldn't drop out of school, which they attended, and not have to suffer the shock of changing schools, that is, we also had a strong social perspective in what we were doing, and we also did something that, at the time, when Minister Pettovello designed it, the red circle, which is increasingly analog and doesn't understand anything we do, because the digital era has already passed us by, but the interesting thing is that, at one point, Minister Pettovello announced that social programs didn't have to be verified as working, that is, social programs are given and they were required to provide work in return, and obviously, let's say, no one explained how the whole situation was, and then we, knowing how tough the first months were going to be, while the adjustment took place, because apart from when you generate an increase in savings and there is no counterpart of investments, it generates a drop in activity and that makes employment fall and/or real wages fall and that could lead to social tension, which we wanted to cushion. And in that sense, it's very interesting because Minister Pettovello removed the need for them to verify that they had worked. Obviously, the large number of monkeys, and I apologize to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals for insulting the monkeys, who look at Argentinian politics, where some obviously respond that they are very angry because they don't have a guideline, but let's say those monkeys – sorry to the monkeys, again – strongly criticized Minister Pettovello for this. What they didn't realize is that it was a way to end intermediaries, where all governments wanted to end intermediaries, but this government did it. So, basically, the people who receive social programs obviously receive a card and that goes to an account. So, they thought that with that they ensured that they would not be extorted, what they didn't know is that you must go to verify if they were working and there, when you were going to receive the verification that they had been working, the Bellibonis of life appeared, taking half of people's income. And they only validated it if you brought them the pretty ones, where they must validate that they were at the rallies. I mean, in reality, they stole half of the money and not only that, but they also had to go and work as picketers, so what you were doing was finance criminals and also ruining the functioning of the streets. In that sense, by eliminating the need for a counteroffer, until April, what happened, well, those criminals could not take away the money that people received from the social program. Therefore, without spending a penny more, this implied doubling the assistance and at the same time, we set up a phone line to report the pressures and extortions of these criminals and we have received close to 300,000 reports and today there are 18,000 cases in the courts. In other words, they are going to pay for having pressured people to go to the rallies. And furthermore, Belliboni threatened us that he was going to gather 50,000 people in the Plaza, so evidently, he planned to bring 100,000. From the Nation, we contributed with 12,000 officers, I don't remember the number that the City contributed, but it was tremendous because there were more police officers than people, as only 3,000 showed up, so it was a resounding success, coordinated at that moment between Minister Bullrich, Pettovello, and the Minister of Infrastructure. Additionally, in the public transportation, there was the announcement that fare-dodging wouldn't be penalized, and the lines for making complaints, and there we also started to organize the streets. In other words, we took away their firepower because now they can't extort people to do this, and we also started to enforce order. Therefore, one of the demands we received as a government, which was to put the streets in order, we are doing it. Because now, whoever blocks the streets doesn't get paid. And moreover, whoever does it... pays for it. And that is working perfectly. Not only that, but while we expected to achieve financial balance over the course of the year, the hard work of each minister allowed us to achieve that financial surplus in the month of January. And obviously, the "red circle" – it was logical – began to predict that we would have very strong deficits in February. And to the dismay of those who live betting against those of us who want to change, we again had a financial surplus in the month of February. Specifically, what we are doing is obtaining a result that, if you take the first two months, equivalent to half a percentage point of GDP, of primary surplus, that annualized would be 6 points. Therefore, we have over-adjusted what we needed, because we only needed to make an adjustment of 5 points of GDP. It's very funny because there are many who say that this is not sustainable, that this, that, when they said that the only thing that could be done was to adjust 1 percentage point of GDP, well, we adjusted 5 percentage points, but of course, that requires a dose of courage that others do not have. But that's not all because there's also the issue of the adjustment we made within the balance of the Central Bank, which generated a 10-point fiscal deficit, quasi-fiscal, and today that number is already 4. That is, with which there is no historical record – worldwide – of a government making an adjustment of 11 points of GDP in three months. And to the dismay of the "Helicopter Club" and all those who wish us ill, especially those whose schemes we've disrupted – which are quite evident, as you'll see them complaining. There's a saying that goes, "where there's a Kirchnerist kicking, there's a scheme that's been cut off," well, it's true. And not just Kirchnerists, but also, look at some other important economic groups. You can imagine who I'm talking about. Aside from that, they're very angry because Elon Musk has arrived. The important thing about this is that faced with the inflation disaster we had when we took office, in three weeks, inflation was at 30 percent, the retail figure, and it was expected to close the month at around 45 percent. I remember one weekend, journalist Gabriel Anello, a great journalist, and an even better person, asked me about inflation, and I told him the truth, that if it stayed at 30, it was a great number because it meant that by the fourth week, prices had stopped rising. And we found that it was 25, meaning there was a retraction in prices that had been fixed from the third week to the second. Then, in January, inflation was 20 percent, and in February, it was 13 percent. Now, when you strip out the statistical carryover effects related to one-time increases, like the tariff adjustments and prepaid health plans, that's equivalent to 6 points, so the true inflation rate for February was around 7%. In other words, we're bringing the inflation rate down to single digits. Furthermore, even if you were to include all these elements in the index, but somehow capture the effect of promotions, which can't be captured by the price index because it's a non-linear pricing scheme and depends on each citizen's consumption, then it's impossible to capture through the CPI due to the effects of "two for one," "three for two," and all those things. So, there's a sort of estimation of how much that weighs, but it can't be documented, and if that effect were considered, despite the previous factors, we would still be in single digits. Furthermore, in the third week of March, the price increase came to a halt, meaning we are moving in the right direction regarding anti-inflationary policy. In fact, some of the criticisms we receive are quite peculiar because, for example, if you look at the evolution of the inflation rate, the speed of the decline is stronger than what occurred during the convertibility period. When you examine the effects of stabilization during convertibility, prices are falling much faster today, or the inflation rate is declining much faster. This also makes sense, and what happens is that during convertibility, the money supply was endogenous, meaning that when there was an increase in the demand for money, the way to validate it was to bring in dollars and sell them to the Central Bank, which implied an expansion of the money supply and allowed for the re-adjustment of relative prices to occur with upward pressure on prices. Notice that since we took office, the monetary base has practically not changed, despite buying $11.5 billion in the market. Not only that, but we also had an expansion of the money supply due to the PUCs that the previous Central Bank administration used to try to control the exchange rate, and there was also expansion due to interest-bearing liabilities. However, the contraction due to BOPREAL has been so significant that the monetary base has barely changed or changed very little. So, we still have the same monetary base of $10 billion, but now on the asset side, we have $11.5 billion more in reserves. Therefore, we are undergoing a very strong process of balancing the Central Bank's balance sheet, and soon we will have net reserves close to zero, whereas the previous government left us with $11.5 billion in negative reserves. Not only are we achieving that, but also when the demand for money is restored, since the nominal money supply is fixed, this implies that to rebuild monetary holdings, people have to sell goods. Therefore, the deceleration of price growth is much more severe than in the convertible scheme because in the convertible scheme, the money supply expanded according to the demand for money and did not conflict with the goods market, which is what causes the inflation rate to fall much faster. I also find it very amusing to those who demand changing the pace of the exchange rate evaluation, which is ridiculous because today the free exchange rate shows no gap. If I take the reference exchange rate from the Central Bank and multiply it by 1.175, which is the PAIS Tax, it would be around 1,060. Therefore, I don't have a gap; I have a negative gap. So, if the market doesn't put it elsewhere, why would I arbitrarily modify it? Based on what? On a calculation made by clueless economists because they make that calculation of the real exchange rate, and the question is, have they never seen that during crisis periods, the real exchange rate is very high, and during boom periods, it is very low? Have they not seen the trend? Have the supply and demand conditions for all goods in the Argentinian and global economy not changed? How can they pretend to be so arrogant as to determine the price of something? Moreover, they average the average. Of what? If with the standard deviation they have, that average is ridiculous. I have an article about that, which says that the real exchange rate is when economists are part of the problem. Moreover, it implies a problem of fatal arrogance or rudeness because it would imply knowing the preferences, technology, and endowments, not only of our economy but also of the rest of the world. It seems quite pathetic to believe that they can have all that information to make all those decisions. Unfortunately, in Argentina, public education - because it's all public, it can be privately managed or state-managed - has done a lot of harm by brainwashing people and leading them to read authors who have truly been disastrous for human history and especially for Argentina. I always joke that if you go to the University of Buenos Aires, to the Faculty of Economics, and ask, "Who is Ludwig von Mises?" They will tell you he's the 9th of Holland, while for others, he's the greatest economist of all time alongside Murray Newton Rothbard. But, of course, they know the bearded one, the German impoverisher Marx, they know him. But beyond this situation, the other funny thing is that if I have the future dollar curve aligned with the Crawling Peg that the Central Bank is implementing, why would I need to devalue? It's incredible, it's ridiculous. They're looking at market data and no. The whole market is wrong, they resemble James. It's incredible because when Keynesians talk about what a great investor James was... He was involved in finance and went bankrupt like a rat and the argument... if you look at Damodaran's Valuation book, there's James’s quote saying he was so arrogant that he said, "It's no use being right when the whole market is wrong. You'll lose anyway." So, everyone was wrong except him, but when they all turned against him, he lost money and went bankrupt. He had to go ask his father, who was friends with Marshall, for help, took a 6-month course, and then got into Cambridge. And when they say he was a great investor, it was all a lie because in reality, as a person with a lot of influence in English politics, he was on both sides of the counter during the War and the Great Depression. I mean, he was in both England and the United States, and Mr. James, the fortune he made, he made through what today would put him in jail, which is the inside trading. That is, he would take information from the American government, which he would use on certain things, and trade with it. It's like the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko was a choirboy compared to James. So, it's also another myth that he was a great investor; the guy played with classified information. I mean, nobody else thought of it, but he did. That's why all the regulations on Wall Street came afterward. So, it seems quite comical that we have to change the crawling peg when the entire futures curve is aligned with monetary policy. And in this whole context, given the commitment we have to the deficit zero policy, I often say that I've been tied to the deficit zero policy like Ulysses to the main mast, with the advantage that I have my ministers shooting at the sirens. So, we're going, and we're doing it well. So, from receiving an economy that had a PAIS risk of 2,900 points, today it's already reaching 2,400. Analysts are seeing that we're heading towards 1,000. That's not insignificant because it opens up possibilities for us to enter the capital markets. Our credit rating has been raised, bonds that used to cost $18 are now worth $54, and Argentinian assets have appreciated significantly. When you look at the GDP data today, it's true that it fell in the first quarter, by about 4.5-points, but it's also true that analysts were expecting a 6-point drop. So, we're making a much stronger adjustment than analysts anticipated, and we're falling less. And that also encourages the idea of a "V-shaped" recovery. A very interesting piece of data from the Orlando Ferreres Consultancy emerged, which is that the seasonally adjusted figure for February was positive, just a little bit. So, we're not getting excited about that number, but at least it seems that we'll be finding the bottom at some point in the near future, and many analysts are already talking about a "V-shaped" recovery, which is understandable when you look at how quickly the PAIS risk is falling. At the same time, we are working on the issue of lifting currency controls, and as soon as we manage to clean up the Central Bank's balance sheet, when we can get rid of all the interest-bearing liabilities and put an end to this nefarious practice of remunerating liabilities, what this will imply is that the issuance of money through interest-bearing liabilities will be halted. Simultaneously, another thing we are working on is a reform of the financial system to move towards an integrated system with the capital market and build a banking system that is anti-runs. The truth is, that wouldn't be a problem today because credit to the non-financial private sector is 4-points of GDP, meaning we don't have a financial system; there is no financial system. Therefore, it's interesting that we start building a financial system that doesn't require a lender of last resort. So, if that reform includes integrating the format of banks with a format of the capital market so that we can move towards a system of free banking, that will allow us, when we have that reform, to open the financial system, lift currency controls, and in that context also pass the law against monetary issuance, where basically we consider seigniorage a crime, it's theft, it's counterfeiting, it's fraud. Issuing money is a scam. And in that sense, if there were to be monetary issuance, the President of the Central Bank, the board, the President of the Nation, the Minister of Economy, and deputies and senators who have approved budgets with fiscal deficits would go to jail. Obviously, you might say to me, "But this is Argentina," and surely another criminal will come along and change things and overturn that law. But we will give it the category of non-prescriptible, as if it were a crime against humanity. Therefore, yes, another criminal may come and change these conditions and return to the practice of issuing money, but then another may come and say, "You are a criminal, you did that," and put them in jail. So, we are going for a solution of these characteristics to end this scam of monetary issuance in Argentina. And obviously, as we can continue advancing in this system of free banking, of deep capital markets moving towards a complete system, and we have stopped issuance through rediscounts, issuance through remunerated liabilities, issuance to finance the treasury, we will have a free exchange rate, with the money supply fixed, and if it is necessary for more money to enter the system, it will be entered by the agents themselves. For example, they will open their mattress and start making transactions. Therefore, the monetization of the economy will be done by individuals themselves with the currencies they want to transact. Currency competition has a very interesting consequence. For example, if you're in the oil sector like Alejandro, you can transact with your peers in WTI, or if you're in the gas business, you can transact with others in BTU. If you're in the agriculture sector, you can transact with others using soybeans in Chicago, and so on. Each will have its own currency. This is equivalent to having a basket of currencies where the weights are determined endogenously by the people, instead of being determined by a bureaucrat at their discretion, which they will always get wrong. Even if they did it right, it would have to be this result, and that's what the agents do, so we don't need a bureaucrat sticking their finger in anywhere because they already know where the finger ends up, and often, it ends up being the arm, not the finger, where they stick it. If they had a vaseline business, they would be happier celebrating. So, once we achieve this, we'll be able to lift the currency controls. Currently, we have excess demand in the Foreign Exchange Market and excess supply in the rest of the economy, resulting in low bond prices, high interest rates, and high PAIS Tax. It also means oversupply in the goods market, leading to economic activity deterioration. In fact, our per capita GDP is 15% lower than in 2011, and we have the same number of jobs in the private sector as in 2011. This implies an increase in the number of poor and indigent people, leading to social pressure for support. Naturally, when we close this excess demand in the Foreign Exchange Market, all other excess supplies will close as well. This will result in higher bond prices, lower interest rates, closing the imbalance in the goods market, economic expansion, improvements in real wages, employment, and reduction in poverty and indigence. Then, the economy will start to rebound, despite the corrupt institutions we have and the economy's deep capitalization due to over 20 years of populism. Nonetheless, we can grow and generate genuine economic growth without inflation. And we can do all of this despite the politics, despite all the obstacles, and despite all the garbage they throw at us. But you know what? There's something wonderful, something that even the analog red circle doesn't see. Every DNU issued in Argentina, all of them were aimed at generating regulations, in other words, reducing market freedom, making markets more concentrated, giving businesses to cronies, huge scams, and above all, encroaching on individual freedoms. Remember what they did during the pandemic, this gang of criminals, and yet there were people applauding them for locking us up. No one opposed that deluge of DNUs. Our DNU is the first in history to restore individual freedoms, making markets more competitive. Look at the wonderful thing in the issue of rentals; you couldn't find a property. The number of rental properties doubled, prices in real terms dropped, and the real estate market expanded strongly during the month of February. Look at the interesting things the DNU achieved, which is still in effect, but had a setback in the Senate, which, by the way, isn't so bad because if we only have seven senators and we got 25 votes, it wasn't so bad, there's improvement, there are people betting on change. But obviously, since this also touches on political scams, evidently, since politicians don't want to give up their scams, don't want to lose their privileges, don't want to give up anything, they'd rather sink Argentinians into misery to maintain their caste privileges, that's why they overturned the DNU. And this is very interesting because if I had told you that in two or three months, we were going to be able to order the Argentine ideological spectrum, you would have said I was crazy. And after what happened with the Basic Law and what happened with the DNU, it's wonderful in terms of the principle of revelation; they left all their fingers dirty. On one side, there are the orcs, who are orcs and can't be expected to behave differently because they are orcs. Then there are the people who truly want change, and there are the fraudulent criminals who say they want change, but in reality, they disguise themselves as wanting change but are just as criminal as the orcs, but they are ashamed to be associated with them. So, they hide behind formalities and all those issues, but deep down, they are the same garbage as the orcs. It was very interesting because it became evident, both in the voting in the House, particularly on the articles, and in the Senate the other day, they were exposed. Today, with the vote, it became clear who is against progress, who the criminals are, who are in favor of scams and theft, and who are against returning freedom to the people, against competitive markets, and against letting go of the scams so that people can get their money back. So, it's wonderful because in three months, we ended up unmasking these criminals. And that's also very interesting because it won't come for free in the midterm election; they will pay with their votes, and those criminals will be left out. That will allow us to have a much better midterm election than the one we had last year. That's interesting because we'll have another composition of Congress, and all the reforms that we couldn't push through now, we'll do it at that time, starting on December 11th, 2025. Furthermore, we'll push through the 3,000 pending reforms that we couldn't pass because of this group of criminals who are the obstruction machine, who want the status quo to continue, where you pay the bill, and they benefit. Therefore, I am very optimistic about the future because we are achieving a lot of things despite politics, and people are seeing that. It's very interesting because even though we are facing the largest adjustment in the history of humanity, with 70% of Argentinians acknowledging that they are worse off... There are some very important data points. The first one is that when we took office, only 20% of Argentinians believed they would be better off in a year's time, but in January, that number rose to 30%, in February it climbed to 42%, and today it stands at 50%. This means that despite being worse off in the present, 50% of Argentinians are convinced that we will be better off from now on. Not only that, but 70% of Argentinians are convinced that we will defeat inflation, with 50% of them believing we will do it in the first year and 20% believing we will do it in the second year. When you look at what's happening in terms of a word that represents the sentiment of Argentinians, the word that appears most strongly and fundamentally dominates is "Hope". Yes, people have "Hope", people see that we are going to make it. There is light at the end of the tunnel, and people are seeing it, even though they are going through a tough time now. They've realized that populism leads nowhere, they've realized that the solution lies in embracing the ideas of Liberty, and that's no small feat. If today were the elections in a runoff, we would be getting 58%, that is, it would be 58, 42. Instead of +2, we are +16, and when you ask that group: Who would you vote for in the first round? They would vote for ‘Libertad Avanza’ with 48%, that is, we improved the voting strength by 60% compared to what we obtained. This means that with that alone, we would already win in the first round because the second person in voting intention is Mrs. Cristina Fernández Kirchner with 20%. But not only that, there are 10 points, which if we go for the most rudimentary case, half and half, 48 and 5 = 53. Therefore, what I want to tell you is that there is hope. Do you know why there is hope? Because people woke up, they decided to stop being sheep and decided to be Lions now. Therefore, there is hope because Argentinians are embracing the ideas of freedom, not only that I'm going to tell them that we're going to be better, but they also already know that we're going to be better. Therefore, Argentina does have a future because that future is liberal. Thank you very much.

Diplomacy
Chancellor Sholz and Prime Minister Ibrahim in Berlin

Press conference by Federal Chancellor Scholz and the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim, on Monday, March 11, 2024 in Berlin - Wording

by Olaf Scholz , Anwar Ibrahim

BK Scholz: A warm welcome, Mr. Prime Minister! I am delighted to welcome you here to Germany for the first time. Your visit is a very special start to a Southeast Asia Week with several high-ranking visits from this important region of the world here in Berlin. The Indo-Pacific region is of great importance to Germany and the European Union. We therefore want to intensify political and economic cooperation. Germany already maintains close economic relations with the region. Malaysia is Germany's most important trading partner in ASEAN. This is of great importance because it is associated with many direct investments in the country, but also with all the economic exchange that results from this. We would like to further expand this partnership. Of course, this is particularly true with regard to the objective of further diversifying our economic relations with the whole world. We want to have good economic and political relations with many countries. We also want closer cooperation on climate protection and the expansion of renewable energies. We are therefore very pleased with Malaysia's announcement that it will stop building new coal-fired power plants and dramatically increase the share of renewable energies. We think this is very important. Malaysia and Germany are established democracies. We are both committed to multilateralism and compliance with international law. It is therefore also right that we deepen our security and defense cooperation. The defense ministries are already working on the necessary cooperation agreements. Of course, we also discussed developments in the Middle East, developments in Gaza and the situation following the Hamas attack on Israeli citizens. It is no secret that our perspective on the Middle East conflict is different to that of others. But that makes it all the more important to exchange views with each other. In any case, we agree that more humanitarian aid must reach Gaza. This is also our clear call to Israel, which has every right to defend itself against Hamas. We do not believe that a ground offensive on Rafah is right. An important step now would also be a ceasefire that lasts longer, preferably during Ramadan, which has now begun and during which we broke the fast together today. Such a ceasefire should help to ensure that the Israeli hostages are released and that, as I said, more humanitarian aid arrives in Gaza. We also have a very clear position on long-term development. Only a two-state solution can bring lasting peace, security and dignity for Israelis and Palestinians. That is why it is so important that we all work together to ensure that a good, peaceful perspective, a lasting common future is possible for Israelis and Palestinians, who coexist well in the two states. Of course, the world is marked by many other conflicts and wars, especially the dramatic war that Russia has started against Ukraine. It is a terrible war with unbelievable casualties. Russia, too, has already sacrificed many, many lives for the Russian president's imperialist mania for conquest. This is against all human reason. That is why we both condemn the Russian war of aggression. It is important to emphasize this once again. The Indo-Pacific is of great importance for the future development of the world. Of course, this also applies to all the economic development and development of the countries there. I therefore welcome the efforts of Malaysia and the ASEAN states to settle disputes peacefully and to find ways to ensure that this becomes typical of everything that has to be decided there. Any escalation must be avoided at all costs. Peace and stability must always and everywhere be maintained on the basis of international law. This applies in particular to the freedom of the sea routes and compliance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. That is why the ongoing negotiations on the Code of Conduct are so important. Thank you once again for coming to Berlin on the first day of Ramadan, at least for our location. We broke the fast together earlier. For me, this is a good sign of peaceful coexistence and solidarity. I see it as something very special. Ramadan Kareem! PM Anwar: Thank you very much, Mr. Chancellor, dear Olaf! Thank you for your wonderful hospitality and for bringing us together today to break the fast! Germany is of course one of our most important partners in Europe. We have seen a huge increase in trade and investment. We can see that major investments have been made. We have visited Siemens. Infineon is a big investor in Malaysia and is showing its confidence in the country and the system here. There are many other examples of companies operating in Malaysia. Of course, my aim is always to expand bilateral relations in the areas of trade and investment and also to benefit from your experience, both in the field of technology and in environmental and climate protection issues. We have set ourselves clear goals for the energy transition. We have drawn up an action plan that is also in line with your policy. Renewable energy, ammonia, green hydrogen - we are pursuing these very actively. Fortunately, Malaysia is also a hub within ASEAN for these renewable energies and technologies. We welcome the German interest in this, also with regard to new investments in the renewable energy sector and with a view to climate change. We have of course discussed this cooperation on this occasion and I am pleased with the Chancellor's willingness to tackle many of these issues. Sometimes we have small differences of view, but it really shows the trust we have in each other. As far as the war in Gaza is concerned, we agree that the fighting must stop. We need a ceasefire immediately. We also need humanitarian aid for the people of Palestine, especially in Gaza. Of course we recognize the concern about the events of 7 October. We also call on Europeans, and Germany in particular, to recognize that there have been 40 years of atrocities, looting, dispossession of Palestinians. Let us now look forward together! I agree with the Chancellor on what he said about the two-state solution. It will ensure peace for both countries. Together we can ensure that there is economic cooperation and progress for the people in the region. We have also positioned ourselves with regard to the war in Ukraine. We have taken a very clear stance against aggression, against efforts to conquer. This applies to every country and, of course, also to Russian aggression in Ukraine. We want a peaceful solution to the conflict. Because this conflict has an impact on trade and economic development as far away as Asia. We have a peaceful region. ASEAN is currently the fastest growing economic area in the world, precisely because it is so peaceful - apart from the issue in Myanmar, but that is contained within Myanmar. The conflict has not spread to the region, although there are of course refugee movements. Within ASEAN, we have jointly agreed on a five-point consensus and the parameters by which the issue can be resolved. The ASEAN countries have agreed that Laos, Malaysia and Indonesia would like to lead the troika together and resolve the conflict with Myanmar. Then there are other issues such as the South China Sea and China. I assured the Chancellor that we are getting along well with China. We have not seen any difficult incidents, but of course we see ourselves as an absolutely independent country. We are of course a small country, but we stand up for our right to cooperate with many countries to ensure that the people of Malaysia also benefit from these mechanisms and from cooperation with other countries. Once again, Mr. Chancellor, thank you very much for this meeting. I am very impressed by your insight, by your analysis of the situation. It is very impressive to see what a big country like Germany is doing, and it was also good to share some of our concerns. I am pleased with the good cooperation. It's not just about trade and investment, it's also about the overall development of bilateral relations in all areas. I also told the Chancellor that the study of Goethe is gaining interest in Malaysia. Questions from JournalistsQuestion: Mr. Prime Minister, can you tell us something about the progress of German investment in Malaysia and can you say something about the challenges for the government in the transition to renewable energy in Malaysia? Mr. Chancellor, in 2022 you spoke about the turning point in German foreign and security policy. But if you now look at ASEAN or Southeast Asia: How does Germany see Malaysia in terms of its bilateral importance, trade and also regional issues? PM Anwar: Within the European Union, Germany is our biggest trading partner. They have made large investments, up to 50 billion US dollars. I have already addressed Infineon and many other leading German companies and I have said in our discussions that we are very pleased that they have chosen Malaysia as an important hub, as a center of excellence, as a training center in the region and I look forward to further cooperation in this area. Of course, I also mentioned that education should be a priority. There are 1000 Malaysian students here in Germany and also several hundred German students in Malaysia. We are also very happy about that. We are working with many German companies to train people and strengthen cooperation. We have taken important steps in renewable energy. We are investing in solar energy, in green energy and in our renewable energy export capacity. There is now an undersea green energy cable to the new capital of Indonesia, another to Singapore, and another cable to the Malay Peninsula. You can also see from the fact that data centers and artificial intelligence are growing and thriving in the Malaysian region that this has great potential. BK Scholz: Thank you very much for the question. - First of all, the turning point lies in the Russian attack on Ukraine. This was the denunciation of an understanding that we have reached in the United Nations, in the whole world, namely that no borders are moved by force. But the Russian war of aggression is aimed at precisely that, namely to expand its own territory as a large country at the expense of its neighbor - with a terrible war. We cannot accept this - not in Europe and not anywhere else in the world. That is why it is right for us to support Ukraine and to do so in a very comprehensive manner. After the USA, Germany is the biggest supporter - both financially and in terms of arms supplies - and in Europe it is by far the country that is making the greatest efforts to help Ukraine defend itself. But this touches on an issue that is important for the whole world. Anyone who knows a little about the history of the world - and it is colorful and diverse - knows that if some political leader is sitting somewhere, leafing through history books and thinking about where borders used to be, then there will be war all over the world for many, many years. We must therefore return to the principle of accepting the borders as they are and not changing them by force. That is the basis for peace and security in the world. That is why we are also very clear on this together. For Germany, however, this does not mean that we lose sight of our own economic development, the development of Europe and the world. As you may already have noticed, it is particularly important for the government I lead and for me as Chancellor of Germany that we now make a major new attempt to rebuild relations between North and South and to ensure that we cooperate with each other on an equal footing in political terms, that we work together on the future of the world, but that we also do everything we can to ensure that the economic growth opportunities and potential of many regions in the world are exploited to the maximum. This is why economic cooperation between Europe and ASEAN, between Germany and ASEAN, between Germany and Malaysia plays such an important role, and we want to make progress in the areas we have just mentioned. Renewable energies are central to this. We know that: We need to increase the prosperity of people around the world. Billions of people want to enjoy a level of prosperity similar to that which has been possible for many in the countries of the North in recent years. If this is to succeed, it will only be possible if we do not damage the environment in the process, which is why the expansion of renewable energies is so important. New and interesting economic opportunities are also emerging, for example in the area of hydrogen/ammonia - this has been mentioned - because the industrial perspective of the future will depend on more electricity, which we need for economic processes - and this from renewable energies - and on hydrogen as a substitute for many processes for which we currently use gas, coal or oil. Driving this forward and creating prosperity together all over the world is a good thing. The fact that the German semiconductor industry and successful German companies in the electronics sector are investing so much in Malaysia is a good sign for our cooperation. We want to intensify this. Question: Thank you very much, Mr. Prime Minister. Your government supports Hamas and, unlike Western countries, has not described Hamas' attack on Israel as terrorism. In November you said that Hamas was not a terrorist organization. Do you stand by this assessment and are you not afraid that this position on Hamas could affect relations with countries like Germany? Mr. Chancellor, I have a question for you: Do you think that Malaysia's position on Hamas could damage bilateral relations between Germany and Malaysia? And if I may, one more question on Ukraine: Germany is still discussing the delivery of cruise missiles to Ukraine. The Foreign Minister said yesterday that a ring swap with the UK was an option, i.e. Germany sending Taurus cruise missiles to the UK and the UK then sending its Storm Shadow cruise missiles to Ukraine. Do you think this is also an option? PM Anwar: Our foreign policy position is very clear and has not changed. We are against colonialism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and dispossession, no matter in which country it takes place, in Ukraine or in Gaza. We cannot simply erase or forget 40 years of atrocities and dispossession that have led to anger in the affected societies and also action after action. Our relations with Hamas concern the political wing of Hamas, and we will not apologize for that either. This cooperation has also helped to raise concerns about the hostages. We have no links with any military wings. I have already said that to my European colleagues and also in the US. But we have some different views. The Australian National Congress also recognized long before the Europeans or Americans that this apartheid policy must be abolished. That's why we have taken that position. We need to understand what the fundamental problem with this is. We cannot allow people to be plundered, to have their homes taken away from them. This has to be solved. Am I in favor of people, of children being killed? Absolutely not. No, nobody should do that. That is the consistency in our politics. But I am against this obsession, this narrative, as if the whole problem started on October 7 and would end then. It didn't start on October 7, and it won't end then either. It started 40 years ago and it's still going on today. Against this background, I am of the opinion - and I have also said this to the Chancellor - that we should now look to the future. We have a problem. Do we want to deal with history now, with the atrocities that have happened, or do we want to solve the problem now? Solving the problem now means: the fighting must stop, the killing must stop. Then the whole international community - Germany, Malaysia and all neighboring countries - can ensure that there is no more violence, from any group, against anyone - not against Muslims, Christians or Jews. People must be able to live in peace. Thank you very much. BK Scholz: I have already said it and I would like to repeat it again: Germany's position is clear. Israel has every right to defend itself against the terrorist attack by Hamas. We have always made that clear in recent days, weeks and months, and it remains so. Israel can rely on that. At the same time, we have clear positions on further developments, and these have already been stated. Let me say this once again: we want more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza. We want the hostages to be released, unconditionally. We want there to be no unnecessary victims. That is why we have said very clearly what forms of military warfare are compatible with international law and what we find difficult. I have spoken out on Rafah and on the need for a long-term peaceful perspective with a two-state solution that makes it possible for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank to live peacefully in a separate, self-governing state alongside Israel - as a democracy in the region, and where the citizens of Israel can also rely on us. That is the perspective we are working for and what is at stake now. That is why we are working - despite the different assessments of the specific issue - on a peaceful perspective, which is necessary. I would like to repeat what I have to say on the issue of supporting Ukraine in its defense. Germany is by far the country that is providing the most support for Ukraine - financially, but also in terms of arms deliveries. All in all, the deliveries to date and those promised amount to 28 billion euros and 30 billion dollars. That is a considerable sum. We have mobilized everything to ensure that Ukraine receives the necessary support from us - ammunition, artillery, tanks, air defence of various kinds, which is also highly efficient and very much appreciated. Our support is reliable and continuous. Ukraine knows this, and we hear time and again how much this great support is appreciated there. As far as the one weapon system is concerned, I am of the opinion that it cannot be used without control in view of its effect and the way in which it can be used, but that the involvement of German soldiers is not justifiable, not even from outside Ukraine. I have therefore said that I do not consider the deployment to be justifiable and that it is therefore not a question of direct or indirect involvement, but of us being clear on this specific issue. My clarity is there. It is my job as Chancellor, as head of government, to be precise here and not to raise any misleading expectations. And my answers are correspondingly clear. Question: Good afternoon, Excellencies! You both mentioned the situation in Gaza and said that we must look ahead to a two-state solution. But how much influence can this meeting have on a humanitarian ceasefire? PM Anwar: Germany is an important country in Europe and has established good relations with Israel, and we have somewhat better relations with Palestine, with the Palestinian Authority and also with the political Hamas. Other Arab countries and neighboring states of Palestine and Israel are doing what they can. We should also be a little more positive. It is of course a chaotic situation, an uncertain situation. There is no easy solution. The Palestinians have suffered a lot. The Netanyahu government has also been very clear in its stance. There is no easy solution. We have to stop the killing of innocent people on both sides, the killing of civilians. We now need a permanent ceasefire and, ultimately, a two-state solution. This is also possible if the international community has the courage and determination. I have said: sometimes you get really depressed when you have the feeling that this case has already been morally abandoned and that there is no real will from all countries to stop the war and find a solution. I am sure that the countries of the Middle East, the international community, Germany and the other parties involved want this peaceful solution. BK Scholz: We would all have liked the start of Ramadan to have been accompanied by a longer-lasting ceasefire, which would have been linked to the release of the hostages by Hamas and also to an increase in humanitarian aid reaching Gaza. Having said that, the aim now is to bring this about as soon as possible. I believe that would be very important for everyone and could also create prospects for further developments. That is what is at stake now. We are in agreement with the American government and the European Union in everything we do. Many people around the world are also trying to work in this direction - as we have heard here, but this also applies to neighboring countries. What we must prevent is an escalation of the war. We also warn against Iran or the Iranian proxies becoming more involved in this war than is already the case. This must be resolved soon. As I said, how this can be done is something that is very clear to me, to the European Union, to the USA and to many others, and it has also been mentioned here together. Question: Mr. Prime Minister, you said that history should be left behind. But for the Israeli hostages, October 7 is still the present, also for their families. Regarding the talks you are holding with the political leadership of Hamas: What are you talking about? How much hope do you have that these hostages will be released soon? Can you also say something about what you saw on October 7 and the fact that these hostages are still being held by this terrorist violence? Mr. Chancellor, you recently met the Pope, who has now caused controversy with his statements on the white flag, which Ukraine has taken to mean, as the Foreign Minister said, that the Church is behaving more or less as it did at the beginning of the 20th century, in other words that the Church did nothing against Nazi Germany at that time. How do you react to the Pope's statements? PM Anwar: Thank you. I have already made my opinion clear. You cannot simply overlook the atrocities of the last four decades, and you cannot find a solution by being so one-sided, by looking only at one particular issue and simply brushing aside 60 years of atrocities. The solution is not simply to release the hostages. Yes, the hostages should be released, but that is not the solution. We are a small player. We have good relations with Hamas. I have told the Chancellor that, yes, I too would like the hostages to be released. But is that the end of it, period? What about the settlements, the behavior of the settlers? No, it goes on every day. What about the expropriations, their rights, their land, their dignity, the men, the women, the children? Is that not the issue? Where is our humanity? Why is there this arrogance? Why is there this double standard between one ethnic group and another? Do they have different religions? Is it because of that? Why is there a problem? Yes, we want the rights of every single person to be recognized, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Jewish or Christian. I am very clear on that. But of course I cannot accept that the issue is focused on just one case, on one victim, and that the thousands of victims since 1947 are simply ignored. Is humanity not relevant? Is compassion not relevant? That is my point. Do I support any atrocities by anyone towards anyone? No. - Do I want hostages to be held? No. But you can't look at the narrative in such a one-sided way. You can ask if I disagree with some subgroups. But that's not the way to solve the issue. We have to be fair, just, and find an amicable solution that is just, that is fair. BK Scholz: Once again what I have already said: Germany has a special and good relationship with Israel. That is very important to us. That's why Israel can also rely on us. You have a clear position on what is necessary now. That includes the release of the hostages. That includes humanitarian aid. It includes the prospect of a two-state solution. I have already spoken about this, I just want to mention it again here. This is also important for us. We were very supportive of the founding of the state of Israel, and German policy will continue to develop along these lines. As far as the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine is concerned, Germany's position is very clear: Ukraine has the right to defend itself, and Ukraine can rely on us to support it in many, many ways. I have already said that we are very far ahead when it comes to the volume and quality of the arms supplies we have provided. That is also true. That is why, of course, I do not agree with the position quoted.

Energy & Economics
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during her speech at COP28 for the High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government.

President Meloni's speech during the COP28 High-Level Segment for Heads of State and Government

by Giorgia Meloni

Dear colleagues, Dear guests, This Summit, for which I thank the leadership of the United Arab Emirates, is a key moment in our efforts to contain global temperature rise to within 1.5°C. We have reached the first Global Stocktake, and while there are reasons to be optimistic, the goal remains far off. COP28 must be a turning point. We are called upon to set a clear direction and enact concrete actions – reasonable but concrete - such as tripling the world’s renewable energy generation capacity by 2030 and doubling the global rate of annual energy efficiency improvements, as also outlined by the Presidency. Italy is doing its part in the decarbonization process, and it does it in a pragmatic way, that means with a technology-neutral approach, free from unnecessary radicalism. My idea is that if we want to be effective, if we want environmental sustainability that does not compromise the economic and social sphere, what we must pursue is an ecological transition, and not an ideological one. We are gradually replacing coal-fired power generation with renewables, we have adopted a new Energy and Climate Plan, and we are investing resources and attention on biofuels, so much so that we are among the founders of the Global Biofuels Alliance. In the European context, we have charted a path to carbon neutrality by 2050 and to reduce emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030. But we are also committed to ensuring, through the EU "Fit for 55" program, a multi-sectoral approach that strengthens labor markets and mitigates the impact on our citizens. And this is an essential point, because if we think that the green transition can result in unbearable costs, particularly for the most vulnerable, we condemn it to failure. Italy intends to direct an extremely significant share of the Italian Climate Fund – whose overall endowment is 4 billion euro – to the African continent. Not, however, through a charitable approach, because Africa does not need charity. It needs to be put in the condition to compete on an equal footing, in order to grow and prosper thanks to the multitude of resources that the continent possesses. A cooperation between equals, rejecting paternalistic and predatory approaches. Energy is one of the cornerstones of the Mattei Plan for Africa, the cooperation and development plan on which Italy is working with great determination to build mutually beneficial partnerships and support the energy security of African and Mediterranean Nations. And we are also, in this way, working towards becoming a strategic hub for clean energy, by developing the necessary infrastructure and generation capacity, in our homeland and in the Mediterranean. After the Rome Conference on Development and Migration, two new financial instruments were established to address the root causes of migration, combat human traffickers, and guarantee the right not to emigrate. We will continue to support the Green Climate Fund also in the next cycle, and as I’ve already announced yesterday, we will contribute with 100 million euro to the new loss and damage fund, strongly pursued by the Emirates’ Presidency. And all these priorities will also be at the heart of Italy's G7 Presidency, in 2024. I want to thank, in conclusion, the Emirati Chair and Sultan Al Jaber and express my congratulations for a COP28 of absolute success. We are all aware, colleagues, that many of the efforts we are making today will likely produce visible results when many of us no longer have roles of responsibility. But doing it anyway – not for ourselves but for those who will come after us – defines the value of our leadership. As Warren Buffet wrote, "There is someone sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree long ago." Thank you.

Defense & Security
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

Statements by PM Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

by Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, at the Kirya in Tel Aviv, issued the following statements at the start of the expanded meeting with the members of the War Cabinet: Prime Minister Netanyahu: “Mr. Secretary, it's good to welcome you and your delegation again. We're fighting a war of civilization against barbarism. I can say that when we spoke, I expressed again our commitment, Israel's commitment, to achieve total victory against Hamas. And we think this is not only our war but in many ways your war because you are leading the forces of civilization in the world. This is a battle against the Iranian axis, the Iranian axis of terror, which is now threatening to close the maritime strait of Bab el-Mandeb. This threatens the freedom of navigation of the entire world. I appreciate the fact that you're taking action to open that strait. It's not only our interest, it is the interest I think of the entire civilized community. I want to thank you for the support that you have shown consistently, and I welcome the opportunity to talk about what else we're doing to have our common interests served." US Secretary of Defense Austin: "Prime Minister Netanyahu, thanks for hosting us again. This is my fourth visit to Israel as Secretary of Defense and my second since the terrible day of October 7th. I'm here to underscore what President Biden has said again and again: our commitment to Israel is unshakeable. I know that Israel is a small, tightknit country and I know that all Israelis were touched by the vast evil committed by Hamas. So I'm here to mourn with you for the innocent souls taken from you on October 7th and I'm also here to stand alongside the families of those still missing in Gaza, including US citizens. America's commitment to Israel is unwavering and no individual, group or state should test our resolve. So in the Red Sea, we're leading a multinational maritime taskforce to uphold the bedrock principle of freedom of navigation. Iran's support for Houthi attacks on commercial vessels must stop. Now, we'll continue to provide Israel with the equipment that you need to defend your country, Mr. Prime Minister, including critical munitions, tactical vehicles and air defense systems. We'll continue to support Israel's mission to find and free all of the hostages. I'm also here to discuss how we can best support Israel on a path to lasting security and that means tackling urgent needs first. We must get more humanitarian assistance in to the nearly two million displaced people in Gaza and we must distribute that aid better. We want to thank you for the recent initiatives that you've taken, Mr. Prime Minister. We applaud that and hopefully that will enable us to move even more in. Thanks for again being a great host and I look forward to a great discussion, Mr. Prime Minister." Also participating in the meeting are: For the Israeli side – Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Minister Benny Gantz, Minister Gadi Eisenkot, MK Aryeh Deri, National Security Council Director Tzachi Hanegbi, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff Tzachi Braverman, Government Secretary Yossi Fuchs, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Prime Minister's Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Avi Gil, and the Prime Minister's Foreign Policy Adviser Ophir Falk. For the American side – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Charles Brown, Special Envoy for Humanitarian Affairs David Satterfield, Secretary Austin's Chief of Staff Kelly Magsamen and Deputy Chief of Mission at the US Embassy in Israel Stephanie Hallett. *** The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

Diplomacy
Vladimir Putin with President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan

Russia-UAE talks

by Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin held talks with President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi. The agenda included the current state of multifaceted Russia-UAE cooperation and prospects for the further expansion of ties, as well as topical international issues with a focus on the situation in the Middle East. Before the consultations began, an official welcoming ceremony for the Russian President was hosted by the President of the UAE at the Qasr Al Watan Palace. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade, Russian co-chair of the Russian-Emirati Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Technical Cooperation Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office – Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov, presidential aides Igor Levitin, Maxim Oreshkin and Yury Ushakov, Russia’s Ambassador to the UAE Timur Zabirov, as well as Head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov, Central Bank Governor, heads of the Roscosmos State Corporation, Russian Direct Investment Fund, Rosatom State Corporation, Rosoboronexport, VEB.RF State Development Corporation, and other officials took part in the talks on Russia’s side. * * * Beginning of Russia-UAE talks President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (retranslated): Welcome, my dear friend Vladimir Putin, to the United Arab Emirates. I am glad to see you again. Let me begin by emphasising the historical nature of relations between the Russian Federation and the UAE. Over the past years, we have witnessed a substantial push to develop these relations in various spheres for the mutual benefit of our nations and people. I would like to express my great appreciation for your personal and effective contribution to strengthening our bilateral relations. In this context, I would like to say that the UAE is Russia’s biggest trade partner in the Middle East and in the Gulf Region. Let me note that the UAE is a major investor in the Russian economy. Investment in the non-oil sector increased by 103 percent over the past year. I would like to specifically mention that this is an unprecedented breakthrough which demonstrates the special nature of relations between our countries. I will be glad to continue working together on strengthening bilateral cooperation in various spheres. Of course, promoting development in energy, infrastructure, and high technologies, as well as elsewhere has special priority. In addition to this, I would like to mention that the United Arab Emirates and the Russian Federation have been working together and cooperating within various international frameworks. For example, we work together within BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, where the Emirates were granted dialogue partner status in May 2023. We are also developing and promoting the strategic dialogue between the Russian Federation and the Gulf Cooperation Council. This helps us reinforce our relations and expand them in various spheres, promoting a proactive exchange of views on key international and regional matters, as well as on key items on our bilateral agenda. Once again, Mr President, welcome to the United Arab Emirates. I wish progress and prosperity to the Russian Federation and its people. President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Your Highness, friends, First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting us and for this colourful and friendly welcome. The other day, the United Arab Emirates celebrated the 52nd anniversary of its founding. I want to congratulate you on this and I want to recall that the Soviet Union was among the first to recognise this independent, self-reliant, and sovereign state. Today, our relations – thanks to the position you have taken – have reached unprecedented heights. You and I are in constant contact, and our colleagues work together on a permanent basis. In fact, the United Arab Emirates is Russia’s main trade partner in the Arab world. Last year, trade grew by 67.7 percent. This year, I think, the figures will be even higher. The same goes for investment activity. There is also progress in industrial cooperation, by which I mean cooperation to build certain industrial facilities in the United Arab Emirates and in the Russian Federation. A number of major oil and gas projects are being implemented. We also cooperate through OPEC Plus. We certainly attach due importance to humanitarian ties. Tourist exchanges are making headway: last year, almost one million tourists from Russia – a little over 900,000 – visited the UAE. A Russian school has been opened, and we are grateful to you for ordering land set aside to build a Russian Orthodox church. We also cooperate internationally. As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United Arab Emirates makes a huge contribution to stabilising the situation in the world. We will certainly discuss with you the situation in the main hot spots, primarily, of course, the Arab-Palestinian-Israeli conflict. I will certainly inform you of the developments in the context of the Ukraine crisis. I am quite pleased that the United Arab Emirates is beginning to work within the BRICS system. In 2024, Russia will chair this organisation. We will continue contacts on this. We look forward to meeting you at the [BRICS] summit in Kazan in October 2024. The UAE is currently hosting one of the world’s most important environmental forums. The first results of the effort to implement the Paris Agreement are being summed up. As expected, you are holding this event at the highest level, and very many people in the world, even those who do not identify themselves with environmental movements, are certainly grateful to you for this work. A Russian delegation is also involved in this work at the highest level. We wish you success. I have no doubt that it will be so. Shukran! <…>

Diplomacy
Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Saudi King’s al-Yamamah Palace.

Russian-Saudi talks

by Vladimir Putin

A meeting between Vladimir Putin and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud took place in the Saudi King’s al-Yamamah Palace. At the Conclusion of the Visit of Vladimir Putin to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a Joint Statement has been adopted. Beginning of Russian-Saudi talks Crown Prince, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (retranslated):We can find many topics and subjects of common interest, on which we are working together to promote stability and development around the world, including in the Middle East. Over the past seven years, we have achieved a lot in our bilateral relations, for example, in the energy sector, investment and agriculture. In addition, our political cooperation and interactions have had a positive influence on several Middle Eastern issues and helped enhance security. Moreover, our future political ties and cooperation will, no doubt, have a positive bearing on the international environment. We have broad and far-reaching opportunities ahead of us, and by seizing them we can work together for the benefit of our nations and the entire world. I would like to reiterate, Mr President, that you are a cherished guest here in Saudi Arabia. We welcome you on behalf of its government and its people. Welcome! President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Thank you. Your Highness, first, I would like to thank you for the invitation. We expected to see you in Moscow. I know that the circumstances have affected these plans. But, as I said, nothing can prevent the development of our friendly relations. Indeed, being in this region on a scheduled visit to the United Arab Emirates, I used your invitation to come and see you and all our friends that we have been vigorously developing our interaction with over the past seven years. That said, the next meeting will hopefully take place in Moscow. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (retranslated): Of course, we are ready. Vladimir Putin: Agreed. Indeed, the Soviet Union was among the first to recognise the independent state of Saudi Arabia. This was almost a hundred years ago. Our relations have developed in different ways during this time. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud: I would like to note that it was the development of independence rather than the independence of a state that was recognised at that time. Vladimir Putin: In any event, we respected the will of the subjects of Saudi Arabia to build their future independently. Much has happened in our relations during this time, but over the past seven years, they have certainly reached a truly unprecedented level. This was achieved owing to the wise policy of your father, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King of Saudi Arabia with your direct participation. We have stable, very good ties in political interaction, the economy and in humanitarian area. And, of course, it is now very important for all of us to exchange information and views on what is taking place in the region. No doubt, our meeting is timely. Thank you very much for your invitation, once again. Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud: Welcome! <…>

Defense & Security
PM Netanyahu with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron

PM Netanyahu Meets with UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron

by Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at the Knesset in Jerusalem, met with UK Foreign Secretary and former Prime Minister David Cameron and said at the start of their meeting: "Thank you, David, for coming here and standing with Israel. We hope to get our hostages out. It's not without its challenges. But we have to, we hope to get this first tranche out. And then we're committed to getting everyone out. We'll continue with our war aims, namely to eradicate Hamas, because Hamas has already promised that they will do this again and again and again. They're a genocidal terrorist cult. There's no hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, between Israel and the Arab states, if we don't eradicate this murderous movement that threatens the future of all of us. It's a larger battle of civilization against barbarism, the kind of savagery that you saw on your visit. It's the worst savagery perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust. And just as the world united to vanquish the Nazis or vanquish al-Qaeda after 9/11 or vanquish ISIS, we have to unite to vanquish Hamas. Israel sustained proportionately twenty 9/11s – twenty 9/11s. It's as though 50,000 Americans were slaughtered in a single day and 10,000 were held hostage, including a nine-month-old baby. He can't walk, he can't talk, he's a hostage. What kind of people do this? The answer is these are not people; these are monsters. These monsters have to go. They'll go. We'll pursue the battle until that goal is achieved, and we give a different future for Gaza and for us." UK Foreign Secretary Cameron: "I just want to say thank you very much for finding the time to see me. I wanted to come in person and go to the sites of the country and go to Kibbutz Be'eri to see just the true nature of the horrific attacks that you faced. I think it's very important to do that and see that. And, you know, we stand with the people of Israel in sympathy for what you have gone through. I think that was important. Today, obviously, it's important we talk about this potential humanitarian pause. I think it's an opportunity to crucially get hostages out and to get aid into Gaza. There's never an excuse for this sort of hostage taking. All the hostages should be released. I hope everyone who's responsible and behind this agreement can make it happen, to bring relief to those families, including, of course, there are British nationals who have been taken hostage. And so that, let's hope that that can be delivered. Thank you for the time. There's lots of things to talk about. It's very good to see you again." Attending the meeting for the Israeli side were the Strategic Affairs Minister, the Director of the National Security Council, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister's Military Secretary, the Prime Minister's Foreign Policy Adviser and the Israeli Ambassador to the UK. Attending for the British side were the British Ambassador to Israel and head of the Foreign Office Middle East and North Africa Division, among others.

Diplomacy
President of Philippines Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr during press-conference

Saudi visit was successful and productive – PBBM

by Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Although the visit to Saudi Arabia was brief, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. said that it was a successful and productive one with various engagements accomplished to reaffirm the Philippines’ commitment to the partnership between the GCC and ASEAN countries, as well as to promote the country to prospect investors. In his arrival speech on Saturday following his visit to Riyadh, the President ticked off his accomplishments, mentioning the business-to-business agreements that would guarantee additional employment for Filipino workers. President Marcos described the ASEAN-GCC Summit held in Riyadh as a landmark event, adding that it was the first time that ASEAN and GCC Member States gathered together to discuss regional and international issues and on future cooperation. The six GCC member countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates while Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam compose the ASEAN. “The Summit provided an opportunity to project the Philippines’ long-standing promotion of a rules-based international order, which is essential to the maintenance of peace, security, and stability in our regions which sit astride two of the most vibrant sea-lanes of trade and communications in the world,” President Marcos said. The President said that the Summit also provided an opportunity for the Philippines to secure a US$120-million Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would establish a 500-person capacity training facility in the country to upskill Filipino workers in the construction industry. “The facility aims to train at least 3,000 Filipinos a year and more than 15,000 in the next 5 years, ready for deployment at any time,” President Marcos said. Another three business-to-business agreements were also discussed among Saudi and Philippine human resource companies “for the training and employment of Filipinos across a wide range of industries including healthcare; hotel, restaurant, and catering; and maintenance and operations, amongst other operations.” “These agreements are expected to generate more than USD 4.2 billion and additional 220,000 jobs for Filipinos over the next few years,” he said. President Marcos also reported resolving the outstanding bilateral issue with Kuwait at the sidelines of the Summit, including working out the lifting of the deployment ban of Filipino workers. “Now, that will end and we will now return to the normal state of affairs with the Kuwaiti government,” he said. The President said he also had the opportunity to meet with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and he referred to their discussion as “very encouraging,” with anticipated capital investments pledged by the government of Saudi Arabia to the Philippines. “We exchanged views on issues of common concern to our two countries, and I expressed hope that we can sustain the momentum of high-level exchanges as we expand cooperation in key areas of mutual benefit to our peoples,” President Marcos said. In his arrival speech, President Marcos reiterated his commitment to continue to advance the country’s interest and at the same time, expand the Philippines’ partnership with ally nations. “Let me assure you that we will continue to advance our national interests as we further expand our partnerships abroad,” Marcos said. In his speech during the Summit, President Marcos emphasized further cooperation in key areas including energy and food security and enhancement of logistic chains. He also called for safeguarding of rights and welfare of Filipino workers. President Marcos arrived at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City at 2:50 p.m. Saturday. PND

Defense & Security
PM Benjamin Netanyahu with Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez and Belgian PM Alexander De Croo

PM Netanyahu Meets with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo: - Your moral values do not stand up if you're not willing to fight for them. -

by Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, at the Prime Minister's Knesset office, met with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Prime Minister Netanyahu showed them sections of the horrific footage from the IDF Spokesperson's Office and told them afterwards: "We face a peculiar kind of enemy, a particularly cruel and inhuman foe. They're genocidal. They're not fighting for this or that territory; they're fighting to eliminate the Jewish state in whatever boundary. They say so. Their charter says if you find a bush and a Jew is hiding behind it, kill the Jew. Kill all the Jews. Their goal goes beyond the destruction of Israel. They're part of an axis of terror: Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis. They say death to America—that's the Great Satan. Israel is the Small Satan. I hope I don't find any offense with any of you. You're a middle-sized Satan. They hate our free civilization. They want to bury it. They have an ideology that is mad. In the 21st century, after the Enlightenment, after the Scientific Revolution, after the advance of human rights and democracy, this is sheer madness. I don't give it relative moralism that says, moral relativism that says, well, they have this society. They can do these horrible things to women. They can do these horrible things to human beings. That's their value system. That's not a value system. That's something that has to be fought. And one thing that we discovered in the 21st century is that our assumption that we can live our civilized lives in our advanced countries, seeking peace, prosperity and progress, and we can just sit back and the barbarians will not come back, they come back. They come back in many places, and if we are unwilling to fight the barbarians, they will win. There's a great historian that I admire, an American Christian Humanist by the name of Will Durant, who wrote, in the last century he wrote "The History of Civilization." And he said history does not favor Jesus Christ over Genghis Khan. History favors the strong. Your moral values do not stand up if you're not willing to fight for them. Here is a classic case of savagery and barbarism against civilization. Now, this savagery has two techniques. One is to deliberately target civilians. The whole laws of war, humanitarian law, which we're committed to completely, makes a simple distinction. On one line, they draw, they draw a line in the middle of the world and they say on one line are combatants, and the other line are non-combatants. You can target the combatants. You should target the combatants. But don't deliberately target the non-combatants. They can be hurt, unintentionally. That accompanies every legitimate war. What the terrorists do is erase the sense of sin. They say everyone is a target. These girls in a music festival, these women. They're targets. Babies. They're targets. Old people. They're targets. Holocaust survivors. They're targets. Everyone is a combatant. Everyone! They not only target everyone, every citizen, no one is a civilian, no one is exempt from their murder, from their harm. They also hide behind their civilians. They deliberately implant themselves in hospitals, in schools, in residential areas, in UN facilities. They fire their rockets from there. Thousands of them. We might have an alert as we speak. There is no symmetry here! These people target directly our cities all the time. Thousands and thousands and thousands of rockets. Falling on Barcelona, falling on Madrid, falling on Brussels, falling on Antwerp. Or any one of the European cities. Thousands! Israel is a small country. They deliberately target civilians and they deliberately hide behind civilians and use them as a human shield. That's a war crime. So what is a democracy, committed to the human, to the laws of war, supposed to do? Do the laws of war give exemption to such criminals? And the answer is: They don't. They say do your best to target the terrorists. Do your best to minimize civilian casualties. But if we, the democracies, accept, say that under no circumstances should we go in because civilians tragically get killed, then we lost. We lost before we begin. You lost and you lost. Spain lost. Belgium lost. Because this will spread. You will see it. Very soon. Because the Axis of Terror is not going to stop. If they can emerge victorious here, they intend to bring down the Middle East, and next they'll go to Europe. After that they'll go elsewhere. If you think I'm exaggerating, I am not. This is where the pivot of history now is going to be decided. Do we stop them there? Or do they come to you? Now, how do you stop them? What do you do? What did the Western countries, what did the democracy do when terrorists embed themselves amidst civilians? Let me say from the start that any civilian death is a tragedy. Any one. And to avoid them, what you do is first, you try to get the civilians out of harm's way. And that's exactly what we did. We asked, called, sent leaflets, phoned the civilians in the areas where we were going to hit the terrorists, the Hamas terrorists, and we said please leave. When they tried to leave, Hamas kept them at gunpoint. Stay, because Hamas doesn't care that their civilians are killed. This is a messianic death cult that hides in the bunkers. As one of their spokesmen said: the underground belongs to Hamas; aboveground, so civilians, that's Israel's problem and the UN problem. Not their problem. On the contrary. It's their shield. So, what do you do? We ask them to leave. Hamas tries to stop them from leaving. Thankfully, many left. We set up a safe corridor, from the north of Gaza, where we were concentrating our effort against the terrorists, to the south. A safe zone in the south, safe corridor to the south. Hamas shot the safe corridor. They fired on the safe corridor, so the people would be trapped in. But they kept on leaving. I'm happy to say that there is a decline in civilian casualties, which is our goal. Our goal is to have none. And primarily that's because of the ground action. The ground action has resulted in the fact that the warnings that we give are addressed by the population, the civilian population that goes south. When they go south, we give them humanitarian support. There are about 150 trucks now going in. Probably go up to 200 and beyond: food, medicine, water. I have not seen yet the effort that I'd like to see from the UN and the international agencies to build there shelters. Winter is coming and there is no reason not to build tens of thousands of tents in the safe zone, next to the safe zone. Because they don't enter the safe zone, the UN, which I think is shocking. I said, okay, we'll give you a lot of little zones. And they're building little safe zones to get the population out of harm's way. Israel is doing everything in its power to get the population out of harm's way. Hamas is doing everything in its power to keep that population in harm's way. That's the facts. I'll give you an example – Hitler, the original Nazis, they invade Europe, they do these horrors on a mass scale. And by the way, these killers would do exactly what Hitler did if they could away with it. The difference is only in capability, not in intent and not in savagery. Hitler invades Europe, perpetrates these horrible savageries, the Holocaust and so on. And so on. And the Allies invade. They invade Normandy. The German army is in the cities. You've seen the footage. The Allies say, "No, we can't do anything. We can't fire," because they're amid civilians? Of course not. They try to do exactly what we are doing: try to minimize the cost. And then they go through the cities of France and they go through the cities of Germany. And unfortunately, many, many, many civilian casualties occur. I don't know what history would have been like if we had demonstrations and protests in the West against the Allies for incurring civilian, German civilian casualties. I know history would have been very different. But we are the Allies, along with the moderate Arabs, with the United States, with Europe. We're the Allies. And they're the new Nazis. Israel cannot be held to a standard that no one is being held to. We have to fight the terrorists. We're in complete compliance with international law. I think in many ways, we're setting a different standard. We seek to minimize civilian casualties, and Hamas seeks to maximize it. And I would strongly urge you to make that distinction, not merely because it's right and just, but because your very societies are on the line. You're next. This is a battle for civilization. It has to be won. We will win it, because we have no other choice. We don't have a future if we don't. Hamas has already said, 'We'll do it again and again and again.' So we'll have to eradicate them. Just as you couldn't leave a reduced Nazi presence, you know, in Germany. You couldn't do that. And we are not going to leave a reduced Hamas presence in Gaza. But the consequences are much bigger. And I think that we should all unite in making sure that this kind of savagery never shows its face again. I thank you." The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.

Diplomacy
Vladimir Putin during videoconference

Extraordinary BRICS summit

by Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin took part in an extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, held via videoconference. The extraordinary BRICS summit on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (held via videoconference) was attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of the Federative Republic of Brazil Luiz Lula da Silva, President of the People's Republic of China Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa, and Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India Subrahmanyam Jaishankar. The states invited to join the association were represented at the summit by President of the Arab Republic of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ebrahim Raisi, Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, President of the United Arab Emirates Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Argentine Republic Santiago Andres Cafiero. * * * Speech by the President of Russia President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Ramaphosa, colleagues, friends, We think the initiative of the President of South Africa, as the current chair of BRICS, to convene an extraordinary summit to discuss the escalation in the Gaza Strip, has come at the right time. The thousands of deaths and mass expulsion of civilians, the humanitarian disaster unfolding in the area are causing deep concern. Just now, one of our colleagues spoke of the deaths of a large number of children. It is terrible, but when you watch children being operated on without anaesthesia, it certainly evokes intense feelings. And all of that is, in fact, happening as a consequence of the United States’ aspiration to monopolise the mediation role in the Palestinian-Israeli settlement process and block the activities of the Middle East Quartet of international mediators. This is history’s way of demonstrating that attempts to single-handedly cut the “Palestinian knot” are unviable and counterproductive. Because of the sabotage of UN decisions, which clearly called for the establishment and peaceful coexistence of two independent and sovereign states – Israel and Palestine – more than one generation of Palestinians has grown up in an atmosphere of injustice, and Israelis cannot fully guarantee the security of their state either. Russia's stance is consistent and independent of momentary conditions. We urge the international community to join efforts aimed at de-escalating the situation, negotiating a ceasefire, and achieving a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The BRICS states and the countries in the region could play a key role in this work. For this reason, it is particularly significant that our colleagues from Middle Eastern countries, which received invitations to become full members of the BRICS this year, are joining our meeting today. I would like to take this opportunity to respectfully acknowledge their efforts to normalise the situation. In particular, I am referring to the Peace Summit hosted by Egypt and the joint Arab-Islamic extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia. It is worth noting that all BRICS countries have similar positions on the need to collectively reach long-term and durable settlement of the long-standing Palestinian-Israeli problem. This was reflected during voting on the draft resolution on a humanitarian truce in the UN General Assembly and in discussing a UN Security Council resolution on the Middle East settlement process, which was adopted for the first time in the past seven years. Although this resolution contains merely an appeal for humanitarian pauses rather than a full ceasefire, we consider the very fact of its approval a step in the right direction. I would like to emphasise that such humanitarian pauses and, better still, a full ceasefire is essential to continue the efforts to free hostages and evacuate civilians and foreigners from the Gaza Strip. I must express again my deep gratitude to President [of Egypt Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi, and all our Egyptian colleagues for their help in resolving many challenging issues linked with receiving and sending home the Russian citizens that had left the conflict area. Of course, by all accounts, the most urgent goal is to reach a truly long-term and sustainable truce. I agree with my Brazilian colleague that it is important that other states not get drawn into a war in the Middle East and that the conflict not spread in any way, as is preserving the fragile peace between religions. In this context, we consider it extremely useful to continue discussing subsequent developments in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in BRICS. If there are no objections, colleagues, we will initiate possible contacts, including via videoconference, concerning these issues during Russia’s upcoming BRICS presidency next year. In general, the new format of emergency online summit meetings suggested by President [of South Africa Cyril] Ramaphosa appears to be quite promising. Importantly, this applies not only to the Middle East settlement but to other urgent global and regional issues. Thank you for your attention. The views and opinions expressed in this article solely belong to the author and do not represent the perspectives or stance of World and New World Journal, nor do they reflect the opinions of any of our employees. World and New World Journal does not endorse or take responsibility for the content, opinions, or information presented in this article. Readers are encouraged to consider multiple sources and viewpoints for a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Thank you for your understanding.