Argentina is holding the pro tempore rotating chair of Mercosur during the next six months and three are its main objectives during that period according to foreign ministry sources in Buenos Aires. They include Bolivia, the Falklands/Malvinas claim and trade accords and negotiations with other countries, MercoPress reports.
The first is making landlocked Bolivia, a full member of the trade group, of which it is currently an associate member. Bolivia once the poorest country in the continent has had a significant development with the surge of commodities’ prices and a relatively orderly and orthodox management of the country’s finances under the rule of the first indigenous president.
However following a brief period of political instability, including a right wing Catholic government, Bolivia is back in the so called “progressive flock”, now led by Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Kirchner, and which includes Venezuela and Nicaragua, and overseas Iran, Russia and Turkey.
The second point is to insist in claiming the South Atlantic Islands, a diplomatic effort in all possible fields and scenarios, dropping the constructive approach built during the previous four years with conservative president Mauricio Macri which helped to resume fisheries joint scientific cruises in the South Atlantic and successfully implement the humanitarian plan to identify the remains in the unmarked graves at the Argentine cemetery in Darwin which only said, “Argentine soldier, only known to God”.
The UK/Argentina accord with Falklands consent and steered by the International Red Cross led to the engraving with full names of 115 out of 122 graves, and visits of next of kin to the Darwin Argentine military cemetery. However since the arrival of current president Alberto Fernandez, and his mentor Cristina Kirchner the official policy claiming “our Malvinas” has again turned aggressive and confrontational.
Apparently according to the San Martin Palace sources, the emphasis is now on convincing EU country members in a post Brexit scenario to stop supporting the disputed British Overseas Territories such as the Falklands and other South Atlantic Islands.
In the new approach, the Fernandez/Kirchner administration is after full support to the Argentina’s right to initiate legal actions against “illegal, non authorized activities involving the exploitation of natural resources in the Malvinas Islands” based on several previous Mercosur statements on the question.
Finally is the issue of trade accords and negotiations, but geared to continue deepening “the productive integration of the Mercosur group”. This will mean addressing pending technical issues referred to the European Union and the European Free Trade Association with which Mercosur has agreed deals but still need legislative approval.
Contrary to Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay which are pressing for a quick passing of the EU/Mercosur deal, the administration of president Alberto Fernandez and Cristina Kirchner have their doubts and are not entirely convinced of opening the Argentine economy. In effect the three other Mercosur members want Mercosur to sponsor trade and investments, promotion of the private sector and less government intervention, which is contrary to the essence of the Kirchner model in Argentina.
According to the ministry sources Argentina will attempt to wrap up Mercosur negotiations with Lebanon, expand talks with Israel, begin them with Central America and the Dominican Republic and advance dealings with Canada, South Korea and Singapore, which apparently are coordinated by Brazil. Argentina would also like to propose an initiative to advance with African countries.
Another significant issue will be the organization of the 30th anniversary of Mercosur, which was officially launched on 26 March 1991 in Paraguay. Argentina received the Mercosur rotating chair from Uruguay, last 16 December.