Argentina expresses concern over potential “rupture” of Mercosur

Montevideo, Dec 5 (EFE).- Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero on Monday at the first meeting of the Mercosur summit in Montevideo said that his country views “with concern” the emergence of a “unilateral” approach that “could lead to a rupture” of the South American block.

Cafiero, who spoke after his Uruguayan counterpart Francisco Bustillo, remarked that Buenos Aires is concerned about “certain unilateral attitudes oriented toward bilateral negotiations with third countries outside of bloc consensus.”

Alluding to the joint note sent to Uruguay last Wednesday by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay with the warning that the partners will take “measures they judge to be necessary” to defend their stance, the Argentine minister said that the most relevant aspect of this situation is the potential loss of consensus among members of the bloc.

“We believe that despite the legal discussions, which will come at some point and in some place, what is lacking here is testimony to specific and reciprocal recognition of the political importance that the states belonging to Mercosur have placed and vested in the Treaty of Asuncion,”

He said that “bilateral approaches” are “not frightening,” given that they have not been lacking in the integration process pursued by the four South American countries to create Mercosur, adding however that these always have come about as “the fruit of consensus.”

“It’s the unilateralism of certain decisions that concerns us … We’re not observing an aspiration for the future convergence within the bloc, not at all. On the contrary, we’re viewing with concern that a road is being taken that seems to be unilateral and that very probably could lead to a rupture,” he emphasized, going on to note that Mercosur is “a key tool” in counteracting “the tendency toward the primarization” of economies.

The Argentine minister, who began his remarks by recognizing the work of Uruguay’s presidency pro tempore over the past six months in heading the bloc’s agenda within a “challenging” international environment, said he agreed with the focus placed on environmental issues.

Regarding the upcoming mandate of the bloc’s rotating presidency pro tempore being assumed by Argentine President Alberto Fernandez on Tuesday, Cafiero emphasized that Buenos Aires will continue “pushing forward with” the foreign agenda and will seek to “find solutions to the pending issues with the European Union,” with which Mercosur is negotiating an historic trade agreement.

“It should not be overlooked that the EU continues to move forward with the approval of the Green Pact and at every phase, far from moderating the scope of the rules, is making them more burdensome for the interests of countries exporting agricultural goods and other raw materials,” he said, adding that as a result Mercosur must “demand appropriate compensation.”

On Tuesday, the Uruguayan capital will host the summit of Mercosur heads of state, a conclave to be attended by the presidents of Argentina, Paraguay (Mario Abdo Benitez) and Uruguay (Luis Lacalle Pou).

Meanwhile, Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao will represent his country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, who will leave office on Jan. 1, 2023, after losing his reelection bid in the October election.

At the summit, Uruguay will hand over the Mercosur presidency pro tempore to Argentina, who will lead the bloc for the next six months.

EFE –/bp

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