President Alberto Fernández at Mercosur Summit: Argentina’s Position on EU Agreement and Farewell Message

2023-12-07 03:01:00

President Alberto Fernández traveled to Rio de Janeiro this Wednesday night to participate in the 62nd Mercosur Summit today. There Argentina will not sign the agreement that the president of Brazil Luis Inácio Lula da Silva wanted to close with the European Union. That will be the last international activity that Fernández leads before handing over the baton and presidential sash to Javier Milei in the National Congress on Sunday. Hours before boarding the plane, the president made a toast to say goodbye to the Casa Rosada workers in which admitted not having been able to solve “the problem of poverty”, although he assured that he leaves with “the peace of mind of having put everything in.” Between Friday and Saturday Fernández will issue one last message, in which he will take stock of his management. It is not yet defined if he will appear on the national network.

The Mercosur summit will be held at the Museum of Tomorrow and Fernández will attend with the Secretary of International Economic Relations of the Foreign Ministry Cecilia Todesca Bocco since Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero will be sworn in on the same day as a national deputy. After attending the meeting of presidents in Rio, the president will return to the country on the same day. The regional bloc is made up of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, and during the meeting Bolivia will join as a full member of the bloc. During the day, the transfer of the pro tempore presidency from Brazil to Paraguay will also take place. Santiago Peña will occupy the presidency during the first half of 2024.

The president of Brazil wanted to end his term at the head of the bloc with the signing of the agreement with the European Union. However, Lula will have to leave without that photo because the pact would not be sealed, not only due to the refusal of Argentina, but also due to that of European leaders such as the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who was against the agreement. .

Signing it would harm the agro-export sector and the Mercosur industry, benefiting only some EU countries. The Argentine Foreign Minister explained that from the beginning the government raised the need to review the agreement and that they worked for a year to try to balance it, but, beyond the fact that leaders such as the president of Spain Pedro Sánchez and the prime minister of Germany, Olaf Scholz tried to add modifications, but the necessary points were not reached.

Javier Milei’s future chancellor, Diana Mondino, had asked Fernández to sign the agreement. “We would appreciate it if Alberto Fernández, as outgoing president, could finalize the agreement between Mercosur and the EU”, said. The wish, however, will be unfulfilled. The president of Brazil would not travel to Argentina for Milei’s inauguration, beyond the fact that Mondino personally went to Brasilia to deliver the invitation to the event to the foreign minister of the neighboring country, Mauro Vieira.

The farewell at Casa Rosada

In one of the internal patios of the Government House, the President gathered all the workers and made the end of the year toast. The last of his management. “I leave with the peace of mind of having recomposed the salary of state workers, although I have enormous regret at not having been able to solve the problem of poverty,” he said and thanked everyone for accompanying him during “these four years that were very difficult”.

Fernández used the occasion to send a message to the opposition. “Whoever succeeds me does not have to receive a country that the following year must pay 19 billion and the other 18 thousand like the one that touched me,” he shot and added: “He does not have to receive 10 unemployment points. He receives the lowest rate in many years and 7 thousand new public works. You will see that there are 140 thousand families that do not have housing problems because the State gave them housing, that there are 95 thousand works in the process of construction, and you will find universities in running and improved.

Finally, he added that he will leave the presidency “with the peace of mind of never having made a decision against those who have less.” The presidential spokesperson, Gabriela Cerruti, who on the same day made the transfer with the new spokesperson, Manuel Adorni, was with him; and the secretaries Julio Vitobello (of the presidency) and Mercedes Marcó del Pont (Strategic Affairs).

“I’m leaving through the same door I entered, with the same car and to the same house where I left,” he stressed and closed his speech with a phrase by Luis Alberto Spinetta that he used repeatedly: “As skinny Spinetta says in Yellow Bridges Cantata: ‘Don’t make me say that every past time is worse, tomorrow is better.’

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