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Mujica and Mrs. Kirchner prepare for the “day after” The Hague ruling

Saturday, April 17th 2010 - 03:26 UTC
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Mujica and Mrs. Kirchner during their recent meeting in Casa Rosada Mujica and Mrs. Kirchner during their recent meeting in Casa Rosada

Uruguayan president Jose Mujica and his Argentine peer Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will meet in Buenos Aires the day after the International Court of Justice rules on the pulp mill dispute which has soured bilateral relations between the neighbouring countries since 2006.

Uruguayan Foreign Affairs minister Luis Almagro confirmed he is working with his Argentine counterpart Jorge Taiana in preparation for the day after Tuesday April 20, when the ruling is expected.

“We are coordinating with the Argentine minister future actions”, said Almagro to the Uruguayan Senate Foreign Affairs committee where he was summoned to explain the latest diplomatic moves on the issue. Almagro went further and revealed details of the recent unscheduled meeting of President Mujica with Mrs. Kirchner at the Casa Rosada.

The Uruguayan-Argentine conflict, the most serious in decades, refers to the construction on the Uruguayan side of a jointly shared and managed river of a pulp mill of which the Kirchner administration argues was never officially consulted, and besides is “contaminating”. Uruguay rejects both claims.

In 2006 Argentina took the case to the International Court of The Hague, --as contemplated in the waters’ management agreement--, and bilateral relations rapidly soured aggravated by pickets, originally sponsored by the Kirchner administration, that have blocked an international bridge linking the neighbouring countries.

“Mujica agreed with Mrs. Kirchner to implement a bilateral scheme to manage the ruling of the International Court and its effective compliance”, said Almagro and opposition Senator Ope Pasquet who had been previously informed of the details.

However a big question mark remains since the pickets have since become autonomous and have anticipated they will only accept a ruling favourable to their demand of re-locating the plant, which by the way has been in full production since the end of 2007: a million tons of pulp annually, mostly for the export market.

Uruguay under former president Tabare Vazquez all along said it was willing to discuss the pulp mill issue, but only demanded an end to the pickets before talks begun. This never happened and the Kirchner administration argued it would not use force to clear the bridge.

Furthermore the pickets which respond to grass root groups from Gualeguaychú the city across the river from the pulp mill, are organizing a huge march and demonstration for April 25, as they have been doing for several years now.

“The March for Life will have a huge turnout as every year” forecasted Jose Pouler one of the leaders of the so called Gualeguaychú environmental assembly.

The picket organization also rejected the Argentine government invitation to be present at the Environment Secretariat Office in Buenos Aires when the ruling will be transmitted and translated to Spanish from The Hague in real time.

Uruguay is also sending a multi-party delegation to The Hague to reinforce the fact that the authorization to build the controversial pulp mill responds to state policy and has the support of the entire political spectrum.

Categories: Politics, Argentina, Uruguay.

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