Argentina’s Foreign Affairs minister Héctor Timerman cautioned that the dispute with Uruguay over the Botnia/UPM pulp mill and its environmental impact can’t be seen as “a football match where one side wins and the other looses”, but rather as a situation where “the peoples of both countries benefit”.
“This is not for the benefit of one side, one people; this is for both sides or for none. With this spirit I travelled yesterday (Tuesday) to Uruguay with the Argentine joint monitoring proposal and with that same spirit I was received in Montevideo”, said Timerman.
On Tuesday Timerman spent the day in Montevideo where he met his counterpart Luis Almagro and delivered Argentina’s proposal for the joint monitoring of the river Uruguay, which has become the main issue of the dispute and for which both sides have agreed on a 60 days deadline, August 2.
Uruguay asked for a week to study the Argentine proposal before replying. Minister Almagro is scheduled to contact Timerman sometime next week when he will deliver Uruguay’s position and any amendments or improvements to the original proposal.
“This is no soccer match” insisted Timerman who said he was confident Uruguay and Argentina could reach an understanding on how to monitor the environmental impact of the pulp mill based “on science” and an example to the world.
He also underlined the gesture of the Uruguayan president Jose Mujica and Vice-president Danilo Astori who invited him to have lunch following the morning meeting with his Uruguayan counterpart, Almagro.
Timerman also talked about the inclusion of Brazil in the joint monitoring (a Uruguayan proposal), which he said “was not contemplated in the ruling from the International Court of The Hague”, but if there is an interest from any of the two countries in having Brazil join the task “it will have to be considered by both presidents (Cristina Kirchner and Jose Mujica)”.
Although both sides said they would not anticipate details of the proposal or the counter measures, press reports in Buenos Aires indicate that both countries are considering a forestry development on both sides of the river, next to the cities of Gualeguaychú and Fray Bentos to help develop industry.
Similarly with the support from the University of Buenos Aires and a federation of Argentina universities a college specializing in environmental affairs could be started in Gualeguaychu.
As to the actual monitoring, once a scientific protocol is agreed it will address all forms of aggression to the environments in the river’s basin, such as sewage disposal from cities and contaminating effluents from industries straddling the water course.
The former US ambassador on Wednesday visited his Brazilian counterpart Celso Amorim in Brasilia, a part of his regional familiarization tour and agenda updating process.