President elect Horacio Cartes revealed in Spain that Paraguay is claiming the pro-tempore chair of Mercosur, argued that Venezuela is an ‘illegitimate’ member of the trade group and said Paraguay is en route to becoming full member of the Pacific Alliance.
Cartes made the statements during a speech to a business forum in the Linares Palace in Madrid, one of several European cities he will be visiting this week. He also underlined Paraguay’s gratitude for all the support received from the European Union during the current difficult situation the country is undergoing with other members of Mercosur.
Spanish Cooperation minister Jesús Garcia said that one of the main challenges for the incoming administration of Cartes will be the institutional framework to regulate private-public relations and generate trust among investors.
“Long term trust is essential for investors to bet in the country. Paraguay is a leading country in private-public relations, and we have a long history of cooperation and we will try to continue doing things together”, said Garcia.
The head of the (CEOE) Spanish corporations confederation, Jesús Vanegas said that with the 21 April presidential election “the political stability of Paraguay was more than evident and recalled that Spain has had an understanding ear for the June 2012 events which led to the replacement of Fernando Lugo by President Federico Franco”.
Finally Vanegas said that Paraguay is a ‘young’ country, but development must be inclusive and underlined that most probably because of an insufficient institutional framework, several non refundable loans for investment in social programs, were returned since they were not put to work”
Cartes was asked by the Spanish business community about Paraguay and Venezuela’s situation in Mercosur and the president-elect said “Paraguay has no problems with Venezuela, the problem is not economic; it’s a question of dignity”.
He added that Paraguay is full member of Mercosur and after the Paraguayan Senate rejected the Venezuela incorporation protocol, Venezuela can’t be allowed in as full member: “Now they understand that the participation of Venezuela as full member is illegitimate and thus can’t hold the pro tempore chair of the group”.
Cartes then revealed that as part of the ‘low key’ negotiations with the other Mercosur members, Paraguay is claiming the pro-tempore chair of Mercosur and waiting for a reply. “If finally Venezuela is given the presidency of Mercosur, we will have to leave things as they are”.
Likewise the president elect pointed out to the fact that Paraguay has been accepted as observer of the Pacific Alliance (Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico). “We are about to be admitted as full member, but I must emphasize that we are not interested in downgrading our relation with Mercosur”.
“Let’s not forget that landlocked Paraguay to have access to the sea needs to cross shared rivers with Argentina and Brazil, both full members of Mercosur”.
Finally Cartes thanked the EU for the ‘strong backing’ given to Paraguay during the political process that led to the suspension of the country from Mercosur following the removal from office in June 2012 of Lugo and his replacement by President Federico Franco.
“This is particularly significant for Paraguay: that the EU conditioned any further trade and cooperation talks to the return of the group to a full institutional framework situation, which necessarily means the active return of my country. This we value with great gratitude”, underlined Cartes.
He added this was one of the main reasons for his trip to Spain, Brussels and several other EU supportive countries.