Paraguay’s incoming government foreign policy advisor Eladio Loizaga downplayed Mercosur veiled warning calling for a quick return of the country to the block because ‘Paraguay is landlocked and needs the Parana River and the River Plate to reach the sea’.
“All states are forced to comply with international treaties such as the 1994 GATT on tariffs and trade and the UN convention on the Law of the Sea”, said Loizaga who is tipped to become the next Paraguayan Foreign minister when president elect Horacio Cartes takes office on 15 August.
The statement from the former ambassador before United Nations was in reply to comments by Uruguayan president Jose Mujica who called for ‘intelligence and pragmatism’ from the next Paraguayan government to help ‘re-establish harmony’ in Mercosur recalling that “Paraguay needs to exit through the Parana river and the River Plate’, through where most of the Mediterranean country’s trade is channelled.
Loizaga said he was not interested in a controversy but emphasized that president elect Cartes has repeatedly stated his willingness and determination to advance in the field of bilateral relations. However he said that Mercosur is a different issue, ‘runs on a different track’ and cautioned that all what happens in the region can’t be subjected to Mercosur.
“I don’t know in what context President Mujica made the comments but our position is that we did not ask for the Mercosur presidency just because it is the presidency. What we did request is that our rights as Mercosur full member be respected because we’re not out of Mercosur”, underlined Loizaga.
“It was Mercosur that illegitimately suspended Paraguay; I’m not saying we are going to forget it but yes continue advancing. And hopefully our counterpart will show a greater balance and rationality in all this process and we hope that on 15 August we can advance in mutual respect as happens with all states in the world society”, said Loizaga.
In June 2012, Mercosur and Unasur suspended Paraguay for the removal, following political impeachment by the Senate, of Fernando Lugo. Despite it was done according to Paraguayan constitution Mercosur alleged it was a ‘congressional coup’ and thus the suspension until a new president was elected.
However on sanctioning Paraguay, the other members Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay voted to incorporate Venezuela as full member of Mercosur, pending since 2006 because of the Paraguayan Senate refusal to support such an action. Under the Mercosur charter all new incorporations must be unanimous and with all members attending, which was not the case.
Thus Paraguay is demanding from Mercosur respect for the country’s dignity, rule of the law and the group’s institutions, and added that evidence of this new spirit could have been giving the presidency of Mercosur to Paraguay, and not to Venezuela as happened.
Mercosur in its last summit in Montevideo in July decided to lift the suspension of Paraguay from Mercosur effective 15 August when Cartes takes office. But both Cartes and outgoing president Federico Franco insist on their demands and are looking for closer trade links towards the Pacific Alliance of Chile, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.
Mujica apparently was chosen by the other associates to send the strong message to Paraguay, which did not have a good echo since Uruguay and Paraguay historically have been the victims of ‘bullying’ by their powerful neighbours.
Loizaga also confirmed that Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff; Cristina Fernandez from Argentina; Sebastian Piñera from Chile and Peruvian head of state Humala Ollanta will be attending the 15 August inauguration.