Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday took to the stage at the ongoing 74th UN General Assembly for the first since taking office and insisted that the Brazilian areas of the Amazon rainforest were sovereign territory.

During a meeting at UNGA, the president reiterated his complaints about “exaggeration” and “manipulation” regarding the recent forest fires in the Amazon and also lambasted Cuba and Venezuela for their socialist regimes, Efe news reported.

“Our Amazon is larger than the whole of western Europe and remains virtually untouched – proof that we are one of the countries that most protects the environment,” Bolsonaro claimed.

Although he did not cite him specifically, Bolsonaro referred to French President Emmanuel Macron, who alarmed by the fires, called for the intervention of the G7 to help control the flames.

Bolsonaro said that Brazil’s “Amazon is bigger than all of Western Europe” and that more than 60 per cent of it is “preserved,” and thus his government “does not accept” the idea that any other country can tell Brazil what it should do to conserve the biomass.

He also said that it is a “fallacy to say that the Amazon is (part of) the heritage of humanity or that it is the lung of the world”.

In his speech, Bolsonaro also presented a “new Brazil” to the world and to the private sector, in counterpoint to the “socialist” model that, in his opinion, governed the country in recent years and for which he reserved the harshest remarks in his address.

He said, socialism led Brazil “to a situation of generalized corruption” and gave rise to “uninterrupted attacks on religious values” backed by the Sao Paulo Forum, which unites Latin American leftist parties.

At the heart of Bolsonaro’s speech – which Brazilian fact-checkers said contained nine falsehoods and five imprecise claims – was a lengthy counter-attack against domestic and international criticism of his highly controversial vision for the Amazon and Brazil’s indigenous communities.

Last month, President and representatives from seven countries in South America’s Amazon region met in Colombia to discuss a joint strategy for preserving the world’s largest rainforest, which has been under threat from a record number of wildfires.

Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.

More than 80,000 fires have broken out in the Amazon rainforest this year.