Argentine President Alberto Fernández Friday rounded up his one-week European tour with meetings in Rome with International Monetary Fund (IMF) Director Kristalina Georgieva and former US Secretary of State John Kerry before flying back to Buenos Aires.
Following a constructive and frank meeting of an hour and a half, Fernández and Georgieva concurred on the need to reach an “as quickly as possible on the renegotiation of Argentina's debt, without demanding greater efforts from the Argentine people.
The first face-to-face meeting between Fernández and Georgieva took place at the Sofitel hotel in the Roman capital, where Fernández was staying with his delegation.
I told her about my talks with European leaders and we are going to see how we continue,” said Fernández, who added the IMF head was “very understanding of what happens to Argentina.
Fernández also told Argentine reporters in Rome that the debt with the Paris Club, which has a maturity of 2,400 million dollars on the 31st of this month, is tied to the issue of the Fund and therefore is a subsidiary issue.
The president insisted is very aware of the situation in the world, that of Latin America and the Argentine situation in Latin America. He added that “this is a negotiation; everything is finally cut down to that.
Fernández spoke to Georgieva about the need for the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) granted by the IMF to be expanded and thus reach the middle-income countries, such as Argentina, to which, according to the Argentine President, she agrees.
Fernández also conveyed to Georgieva that an agreement that requires greater efforts from the Argentine people cannot be thought of, because it is still having a very bad time between the pandemic, and an economy that we inherited and that it is difficult to get organized.
The Argentine leader also described the entire tour of Europe as very productive for the support obtained from Europe towards the elimination of surcharges by the International Monetary Fund, as well as for the commitment expressed by the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, for the G20 to address this aspect, linked to the multilateral credit organization.
”It seems to me that that in itself is a lot, that (French President Emmanuel) Macron attends to our needs in the Paris Club, that (Portuguese Prime Minister) António Costa is accompanying us, as is Spanish President (Prime Minister) Pedro Sánchez,” stressed the President, who also announced he will be talking with German Chancellor Angela Merkel next week and, thus, the European stage will be covered.
Merkel had asked Fernández to cancel the Berlin stop of his tour due to coronavirus restrictions on foreign travel.
Meanwhile, Georgieva said it was gratifying to finally meet the President in person. She added that it was a very constructive meeting” during which “we discussed the situation in Argentina and what is happening in the region.”
Georgieva added that “our teams will continue working to arrive at a program. We finally see each other, Georgieva told Fernández at the beginning of the meeting.
Parallel to that meeting, Economy Minister Martín Guzmán was once again holding talks with Julie Kozak, IMF's Deputy Director for the Western Hemisphere.
The Argentine Government seeks to postpone the maturities of debt with the IMF this year, which must pay between September and October, in the context of the difficulty posed by the pandemic to Argentina and the world, when resources are scarce and are required to obtain vaccines and strengthen the health system and assist the most affected sectors, something on which Portugal, Spain, France and Italy had already backed Fernández.
Argentina is also calling for the elimination of the 2% surcharge applied to countries that have received an amount greater than the quota that it contributes to that multilateral credit organization.
Georgieva was in Rome to attend the seminar Dreaming of a better restart, at the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences of the Vatican, and in which Guzmán will also participate.
Fernández also met Friday with former US Secretary of State and current Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry at the Regina hotel in the Italian capital to discuss environmental issues. We had a very nice meeting, very good, we addressed the issues that concern us both as a country, I expressed as something very auspicious the meeting that the United States organized recently on environmental issues and I transmitted that I was celebrating the return of the United States to the Paris Agreement, which was very reassuring for me, Fernández told journalists after the encounter.
Kerry described the meeting with Fernández as excellent and he was very pleased that the Argentine president is very interested in pushing other countries in the region towards the environmental discussion.
Argentina has to renegotiate with the Paris Club a debt of 2.4 billion dollars that expires this month and with the IMF a loan of 44,000 million dollars.
As a balance of his tour of Portugal, France, Spain and Italy, Fernández said the goals had been met.