The visit of French president Francois Hollande was described as most positive and this was reflected in the over twenty bilateral agreements signed in all fields, plus a very significant 'personal link' with his Argentine peer Mauricio Macri, said Susana Malcorra, foreign minister on Wednesday at the Casa Rosada.
President Hollande's visit is most positive not only because of the common agenda supported by all the accords signed in all fronts, but also because in these matters it is so important to establish a personal link between the presidents so things get moving and get done, underlined Malcorra following the official signature ceremony.
The framework for the political decision from France and Argentina has been established and it is now our responsibility to make things happen.
Regarding the promise of Hollande to support French companies interested in investing in Argentina, Malcorra said that details of these issues will emerge following the commercial meetings in the private sector, which are tough, since they are putting the funds to invest.
Malcorra was also enthusiastic about the Mercosur /European Union trade talks since president Hollande was very clear: they are decided to advance and as such he told president Macri during the private meeting, and he also mentioned it in his message.
Mind you, the French president did not exclude the fact that the agriculture chapter is the most contentious and worrying for them, but it was also clear that it was time to put the proposals on the table and understand each side's position and see how we can find common spaces to advance, insisted the Argentine official.
Hollande told Macri that Paris supports the beginning of negotiations but we did not talk of a timetable, because that issue is in the hands of the EU commissioner, but anyhow we expect that at the end of the first quarter, with Uruguay holding the Mercosur chair, we can have a plan ready to get moving.
As to the possible purchase of French defense equipment, Malcorra said the issue is specific to defense, and there are also other issues referred to security we are interested in. President Macri was most clear in that we need to professionalize our armed forces so that they can advance in helping combat the drugs trade, a scourge in Argentina.
Asked specifically about the Falklands/Malvinas issue and the bilateral agenda, Malcorra replied that this is a matter always standing for us. In the meeting I had with my colleague Jean Marc Ayrault there was a mention to the fact that we have the support from France in the claim
Finally on the European refugees crisis and the possibility that Argentina could receive some of them, Malcorra indicated that the previous government had a project on the matter and refers to helping those families, from areas in conflict in Syria and Lebanon, who have relatives in Argentina to come to the country helping with reunification.
In that framework Argentina has already hosted over 200 Syrian citizens and their families, and probably we will have to work in increasing the number. Likewise we are considering sending White Helmets as part of Argentina's humanitarian aid and to signal a strong presence in the refugee camps in neighboring countries to Syria, she added.
We've already had talks on the initiative with the UN Secretary General and I wouldn't be surprised if the issue is addressed when President Macri meets with the Pope, we all know how involved and interested in this issue Francis is.