Chile and Uruguay will support former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner for the post of chairman of the Union of South American Nations, Unasur, confirmed in Santiago Ecuadorean Foreign Affairs minister Ricardo Patiño.
“Deputy Foreign Affairs minister Fernando Schmidt has confirmed that Chile has expressed its decision to support Argentina’s candidacy to Unasur. This is very positive”, said Patiño.
Ecuador currently holds the temporary Unasur presidency and Patiño is touring several countries of the region (Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, plus Chile) to advance in issues related to the organization and its institutional status.
Chilean president Sebastián Piñera committed his country’s support for Mr. Kirchner during his recent visit to Buenos Aires.
Patiño also confirmed Uruguay’s support for Mr. Kirchner. Uruguay was opposed to Kirchner’s candidacy in the framework of the dispute with Argentina over the construction and functioning of a pulp mill on shared waters along a border river.
“We are aware of Uruguay’s willingness to support the Argentine candidacy. I can’t make it official but I know Montevideo is willing to extend its support”, said Patiño.
The Ecuadorean official said he was hopeful that during the coming Unasur summit in Buenos Aires next 4 May former president Kirchner could be named chairman of Unasur for which the unanimous support of the twelve members are needed.
“I can’t say with precision how many votes we have so far, it would be imprudent from my side. But I guess we can count with support from Argentina, Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia to which we must add Chile and Uruguay and some other countries”, he said.
“Let’s hope we have the full support for the Argentine candidacy by next May 4 so we can then count with a Unasur chairman”.
Patiño said that another objective of his visit is to advance with the parliamentary ratification of the Unasur charter, which so far only has been approved by Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Guyana.
He added that by next July, August, “we expect to have the ratification of at least nine countries which is the minimum number needed for Unasur “to have juridical validity”.
Patiño also revealed that the issue of the South Bank, a regional development bank, which is in the process of formation, was not in the agenda. Seven countries have approved the initiative so far but the list does not include Chile.