Beto Richa’s Trip to the Middle East
Mayor Beto Richa’s official trip to the Middle East ended with positive results and further established him as a strong leader in the national political scene. His first scheduled appointment already evidenced such leadership skill. Richa attended the international conference Facing Tomorrow as a special guest of Israeli President Shimon Peres, and defended the appreciation of cities before an audience composed of some of the greatest names worldwide, including politicians, businessmen and intellectuals. In Israel, during a presentation at the Cities of Tomorrow panel, Richa stated that “a substantial portion of the planet’s problems can be solved by looking at cities.” He said that if cities are part of the problem, they are also the promise of its solution. “It is in urban areas – where over than half of the world’s population currently lives – that the decisive battle against global warming will be won, the issue that most plagues us in the long run,” explained the Mayor.
During political meetings, Richa demonstrated the ability to shift from discussing one topic to another with several different parties. Also in Israel, he had an audience with Miriam Feierberg, Mayor of the coastal town of Natanya, and Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, in which they exchanged positive governance experiences. Richa then went to Beirut, where he met with Gen. Michel Suleiman, President of Lebanon. The meeting’s agenda included increasing commercial and cultural exchange as well as expanding the country’s relations with the capital of Paraná. The president introduced Curitiba’s Mayor to a group of Lebanese businessmen who have an interest in investing in Brazil.
During the meeting, Richa and Suleiman discussed future economic cooperation agreements that may be established between Curitiba’s City Hall and the government of Lebanon. “We presented the Tecnoparque project and the Lebanese seemed very interested,” said Richa. The construction industry was another issue that caught the attention of the Lebanese businessmen who attended the meeting. Suleiman emphasized at the meeting that, despite the crisis, Lebanon foresees a GDP growth of 7% in 2009, and that the country’s entrepreneurs are seeking new investment opportunities. Richa then visited the Lebanese Parliament, where he had audience with Parliament President Nabih Berri. Finally, Richa met with Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
The meeting with the Parliament President was so productive that he requested a second round of negotiations scheduled for the next day. Berri summoned all parliament members to the second meeting with Richa. The President of the Lebanese Parliament also scheduled meetings for Richa in Canaan, Galilee, and in Tyr, an ancient Phoenician city. The meeting in Tyr produced a protocol of intent to enter into a partnership with the capital of Paraná: Tyr and Curitiba would become sister cities. Richa considered the trip’s final balance as extremely positive. “At the international conference, we presented Curitiba’s solutions and its management model before the world. I am taking home new international relations and contacts with investment prospects that are good for Curitiba and for the entire state of Paraná,” he stated.