Bolsonaro wants Macron′s apology before taking G7 Amazonia aid | News | DW | 27.08.2019
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Bolsonaro wants Macron's apology before taking G7 Amazonia aid

The Brazilian president said he will only accept $20 million anti-fire funds from the G7 if Macron withdraws "insults." However, a spokesman later appeared to backtrack on those demands, instead insisting on control.

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Bolsonaro demands apology in exchange for accepting aid

With wildfires raging across Amazonia, Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro said he would only take the aid from the G7 if French President Emmanuel Macron rowed back on comments made in their ongoing feud.

"First of all, Macron must withdraw the insults," Bolsonaro told reporters in Brasilia on Tuesday.

"He called me a liar," Bolsonaro said, adding that once Macron went back on his claim, "from there we can talk."

A spokesperson for Bolsonaro later said that Brazil's president is willing to accept foreign aid for fighting fires in the Amazon, but only if the country controls the funds.

"The Brazilian government through President Bolsonaro is open to receiving financial support from organizations and even countries," Otavio Rego Barros told reporters in Brasilia, without specifically mentioning the G7's offer. "The essential point is that this money, on entering Brazil, will be under the control of the Brazilian people."

Read more: Amazon wildfires set to cause irreversible damage

Paris threatens trade

The two men have been trading blows online since last week, when the French leader called the fires an "international crisis" and placed them on the agenda of the G7 summit.

Macron has since questioned Bolsonaro's commitment to protecting the sensitive region. This week's statement from Macron's office claimed that Bolsonaro "lied" to Macron when pledging to tackle climate change at a summit two months ago. Paris also threatened to block a major trade deal between the EU and South America's Mercosur unless Brazil did more to fight the fires.

Bolsonaro has opposed discussing the fires at the G7 summit as "if we were a colony," and blasted Macron for having a "colonialist mentality." However, he also said the Brazilian government did not have the resources to fight the fires.

France's President Emmanuel Macron and Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro attend an event on women's empowerment during the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. (AFP/B. Smialowski)

Macron and Bolsonaro have been trading barbs for several days

'Ha ha'

The feud escalated during the weekend, when a social media user posted an unflattering image of France's 66-year-old first lady Brigitte Macron on Bolsonaro's Facebook wall. He compared it with a photo of Michelle Bolsonaro, who is 29 years younger than her French counterpart.

"Now you understand why Macron is persecuting Bolsonaro?" the man wrote, implying that the French president was envious over Bolsonaro's spouse.

The Brazilian president "liked" the comment and replied with "Do not humiliate the guy, ha ha."

Macron later slammed Bolsonaro's comment as "extraordinarily rude."

"What can I say? It's sad," Macron replied when asked for comment on Monday.

"It's sad for him firstly, and for Brazilians."

'Frenchman Macron'

Also on Monday, G7 nations pledged to donate $20 million (€18.03 million) to fight fires in Amazonia, around 60 percent of which is located in Brazil. G7 members UK and Canada also separately pledged additional millions in aid.

Bolsonaro's latest demands for Macron's apology mark a change of attitude from his administration. Initially, Bolsonaro's chief of staff flatly refused the money.

"Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in [Notre Dame]," presidential chief of staff Onyx Lorenzoni told G1 news. "What does he intend to teach our country?"

"Brazil is a democratic, free nation that never had colonialist and imperialist practices, as perhaps is the objective of the Frenchman Macron," Lorenzoni said.

Watch video 00:37

Bolsonaro: 'The biggest suspects are the NGOs'

dj/msh (AFP, AP)

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