Uruguayan president Tabare Vazquez will host on Thursday his Argentine peer Mauricio Macri to address several controversial issues from the bilateral agenda which are pending from the twelve years of the Kirchner couple. According to Uruguayan sources they include trade, River Plate channels and navigation, ports and pulp mills among other issues.
Vazquez will receive the Argentine delegation at the presidential Anchorean farm, which is actually closer to Buenos Aires than to Montevideo, and the two leaders will share a midday barbecue. The recently inaugurated president will be accompanied by foreign minister Susana Malcorra, nominated Argentine ambassador in Montevideo, Guillermo Montenegro, cabinet chief Marcos Peña and foreign policy advisor Fulvio Pompeo.
In anticipation of the first official visit, Uruguayan foreign minister Rodolfo Nin Novoa said that the Vazquez administration has high expectations about the meeting and underlined that for Uruguay what's most important is to have good relations with Argentina.
When they talk to me about priorities, I say good relations with Argentina, as we want to have with all the region, underlined Nin Novoa.
The Uruguayan minister said that relations with Argentina have been deteriorated for too long and it becomes imperative to restore them to their natural and traditional level. There's good chemistry on both sides, we have an agenda with agreed issues to address, and we have solutions for many of them. I believe we are going to achieve significant results for Uruguay because there's no other way to address relations between two countries, two peoples that are brotherly or close cousins, to say the least. Yes, it's true we've always had difficulties but it's also true that we have always been able to overcome them.
As to the issues, Nin Novoa mentioned trade, navigation along the River Plate, canals, investments, ports and others which at the time caused great concern to the previous Argentine governments such as the UPM pulp mill. I believe that these issues are manageable but we must also address hyper-globalization, and fragmentation of regional blocks, the fact that Uruguay and Mercosur can't be left out of this new trend, and we have quite a good understanding over this with the Argentine government.
Days before the Uruguayan ambassador in Buenos Aires, Hector Lescano had advanced that most probably following the meeting different task groups would be formed to advance in different issues of the bilateral agenda; he mentioned specifically dredging of shared rivers and canals, ports, trade, environmental monitoring, cultural integration, speeding the Mercosur/EU agreement.
All that is happening with these meetings leads to an improvement of bilateral relations, pointed out Lescano who also recalled that before the Argentine election runoff both presidential candidates' teams were working in that direction.
This is important since the Uruguayan government during the Argentine presidential campaign was closer to the incumbent candidate Daniel Scioli, who met a couple of times with Vazquez, while former president Jose Mujica was directly involved in political rallies in support of Cristina Fernandez handpicked candidate in Argentine territory.
Once elected Macri flew to Brazil to meet with president Dilma Rousseff and on the same day to Chile where he was received by Michelle Bachelet. Macri did not fly to Uruguay but met with Vazquez in Chile, where he was attending a medical forum. However Vazquez did attend Macri's inauguration. Both also participated in the latest Mercosur summit held in Paraguay.
For the new Argentine president the visit to Uruguay will be his first overseas trip of 2016. Macri is scheduled later in the month to travel to Ecuador and to Switzerland for the Davos Economic forum.