MercoPress | Monday, July 7, 2008
Chile-Uruguay sign strategic association; rap EU on migration
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet and her Uruguayan counterpart Tabare Vazquez expressed on Monday “deep concern” over the new European Union migration policy and argued in favor of the positive aspects of migration.
The new EU policy “is not in conformity with the traditional links of friendship and dialogue between Latinamerica and the EU”, said one of the chapters of the official joint declaration following the meeting of both leaders in Government House in Montevideo.
In the joint declaration Bachelet and Vazquez also express their commitment to fight poverty, economic and gender inequality and defended “a more free and fair trade” to help achieve those goals.
The two presidents underlined that the “return directive” agreed last June by the EU which allows country members to arrest and ship illegal immigrants to their country of origin “affects universal rules on human rights and the International Convention on Migratory Workers and families human rights”.
Both presidents ratified it was imperative to continue guaranteeing the positive impact of migration and the elaboration of “appropriate policies in this area, shared and harmonized by the different countries that conform the Ibero-American space”.
The “return directive” is expected to affect several million Latinamericans who are illegal immigrants in the EU, particularly in countries such as Spain, Portugal and Italy.
The joint declaration was in the framework of the Strategic Association Agreement signed by both countries which promotes trade relations and cooperation in foreign affairs regarding shared principles in areas such as global trade, UN security policies and human rights.
Another area covered by the agreement was bilateral trade with a complementary understanding on double taxing and tariff preference expansion on a wide range of goods with the exception of sugar and wheat industries. Bilateral trade is still modest with Uruguay exports to Chile totaling 108 million US dollars and imports from Chile, 93 million US dollars in 2007.
Vazquez and Bachelet also underlined the decision to strengthen “social development with the purpose of combating hunger, poverty, social exclusion and inequality in wealth distribution”.
“This has to be guaranteed with legislation that ensures equality of opportunities and rights for both genders”, emphasizing the vital role played by education in helping eliminate discrimination and violence against women.
Both presidents added that to achieve the goals of eliminating poverty and social inequality, “a more free and more fair trade” is needed stating that one of the foreign policy priorities of the two countries is the successful conclusion of the Doha Round on expanding global free trade.
“This will be of benefit for all members of the World Trade Organization and particularly for developing countries”.
Following the private meeting with President Vazquez and the signing of several agreements and the joint declaration, the Chilean leader visited the Mercosur headquarters where she received the keys of the City of Montevideo
Monday afternoon she visited Congress to address the General Assembly and open a seminar on women’ opportunities and participation in Latinamerica, and in the evening was hosted with a private dinner at the presidential residence.
On Tuesday the Chilean president is scheduled to meet with the Chilean community, visit the Supreme Court, the Latinamerican Integration Association and address a forum of Uruguayan and Chilean businesspeople.
President Bachelet has described Chilean relations with Uruguay as “historically splendid”.