Argentine president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner invited Italian business-people to invest in Argentina underlining the close links between the two countries and the fact her visit was the re-launching of normal relations after a decade.
“Come to Argentina, get to know us”, she told the businessmen. “You will find that it’s a good place to live and invest in,” she added highlighting the country’s recent economic growth.
Earlier in the day the Argentine president met with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi a the Chigi Palace in Rome in the framework of her visit to Italy to try and re-establish a “new phase” in bilateral relations following the 2001/2002 default that left 400.000 Italian pensioners with their live savings invested in Argentine sovereign bonds, lost or considerably diminished.
According to Argentine sources PM Berlusconi in private said the bond holders issue can be considered over and “today is only a residual problem”. Apparently Berlusconi admitted that when Argentina launched the debt exchange package in 2005, he stood behind bond holders and Italian banks, “because of flag reasons”, but it was time “to consider the conflict over”.
This was interpreted by Argentine diplomats as a green light for the start of a reconciliation period and the re-launching of bilateral relations which have been virtually frozen since the Argentine massive 2002 default. The two countries have clashed several times since 2002 in spite of the fact Argentina is the country with the largest percentage of Italian descendants in Latin America.
The last time a member of the Argentine government made a visit to Italy, was when the ex caretaker president Eduardo Duhalde went in 2002.
Following their meeting, there were no speeches made to the press, nor did the leaders hold any press conferences. It had been said that Berlusconi was avoiding speaking directly with foreign press, following his recent sex scandal and electoral humiliation over the weekend in Milan and Naples.
CFK is in Rome for the 150th anniversary celebrations of Italy’s Unification. Her delegation includes Foreign Affairs Minister Hector Timmerman, Planning Minister Julio De Vido; Agriculture Minister Julian Dominguez and Human Rights Secretary Eduardo Luis Duhalde, among others.
The Argentine president began her official visit to Italy by meeting her Italian counterpart, Giorgio Napolitano. The meeting took place at the presidential office at the Quirinale Palace and lasted over 45 minutes.
“I am of Spanish descent, but in my country, if you are not of Spanish descent, then you're of Italian descent,” she told Napolitano before the press. With a smile, the Italian president said he appreciated her words, and then led her to his office, where they met in private.
Following the meeting President Napolitano expressed how “Argentina plays a crucial part in today’s world”.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Timerman met with his Italian counterpart, Franco Frattini, and signed a document in which Italy agrees to provide the local government with any files in their embassies and consulates containing information related to the latest military dictatorship in Argentina.
On Thursday CFK will attend the military parade celebrating Unification which will march along the Coliseum and the Imperial Forum. On Friday Mrs Kirchner is scheduled to visit Venice where she will open the Argentine Pavilion at the famous Art Show.