Uruguay will reply next week Argentina’s proposal for the joint monitoring of the River Uruguay, said Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro after holding a three hours meeting with his visiting counterpart Hector Timerman.
According to Argentine sources the proposal is innovative and encompassing, ‘open and in real time’ but Minister Almagro said it would “not be pertinent” to reveal details until it is fully analyzed by “our team of experts and scientists”.
Uruguayan president Jose Mujica Vice-President Danilo Astori joined the ministers following the Tuesday meeting.
The ongoing conflict was triggered when Uruguay in 2003 authorized the construction of a pulp mill of the shared River Uruguay, which Argentina and later pickets claimed is contaminating.
Timerman said the proposal is basically ‘scientific’ and should help to solve as soon as possible the criteria for total and absolute controls of the river plus “all the necessary guarantees” to protect the environment.
“We have left our proposal in the hands of Minister Almagro convinced that we have done a serious in depth work and we are now expecting all possible comments and any changes to improve it and move ahead”, said Timerman.
We are suggesting a real time, wide and open environmental monitoring of the Uruguay River, he continued.
The proposal is “positive from all point of view” said Almagro who anticipated a counter proposal “in accordance to the environment guarantees we are interested in making effective”.
No word was mentioned about Brazil’s possible participation in the river Uruguay monitoring, but both ministers said the issue was to be decided “by the presidents of Uruguay and Argentina”, but nevertheless international scientists are welcome to be included in the proposed lists of monitoring experts.
Uruguay and Argentina are running against a self imposed timetable of 60 days, to be made effective by August 2 when a joint monitoring system of the River Uruguay and the Botnia pulp mill plant, at the heart of the problem, must be definitively agreed. This must be done to comply with the April ruling of the International Court of Justice and the June 2 summit of Presidents Jose Mujica and Cristina Kirchner.
Sixty days is also the time given by the Gualeguaychú pickets that had been blocking (since 2006) an international bridge leading to Uruguay for an ‘acceptable’ monitoring program if not they will resume their active protest impeding traffic from going across.
Earlier before leaving Buenos Aires Timerman had said: We're in the homestretch to solve this conflict with Uruguay.
The Minister also confirmed he would meet with Gualeguaychú activists next week. The meeting has already been scheduled, so I believe we're in the homestretch to solve this conflict.
Timerman's promise to meet with the environmental activists was met with joy and optimism by members of the Gualeguaychú assembly.