The Brazilian government says it’s willing to help Argentina and Uruguay with the joint monitoring of the River Uruguay, which is at the heart of a pulp mill standing dispute between both countries. Argentina and Uruguay Foreign Affairs ministers met in Montevideo to address the issue.
“Brazil is always willing to help, but we have received no formal proposal. I read about it in the press but the ideal is that if Uruguay and Argentina are interested, they just have to request and Brazil will consider the proposal,” said José Felício, Brazilian ambassador in Montevideo.
Ambassador Felício also confirmed that Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is scheduled to meet with his Uruguayan counterpart José Mujica in the border town of Livramento-Rivera following the Mercosur summit in Buenos Aires next July.
According to the April ruling from the International Court of The Hague, which opened the way for an understanding between Uruguay and Argentina regarding the Botnia/UPM pulp mill, both sides agreed on a 60 days timetable, which means having in place by next August the River Uruguay monitoring system.
Uruguay floated the idea that since the river is actually born in Brazil, and covers a long distance in that country, with industries and farms straddling along its course, before becoming the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay, Brasília authorities should also be involved.
Precisely that was one of the main points to be addressed by Uruguay’s chancellor Luis Almagro and his Argentine counterpart Hector Timerman in Montevideo.
The Argentine side, spurred by the pickets that during four years blocked an international bridge linking both countries wants the monitoring to effectively be done inside the pulp mill, which was first rejected by Uruguay as infringing “sovereignty.”
However, Uruguay later said it would consider the proposal but also wanted Brazil in the joint monitoring.
The newly appointed Argentine minister Timerman anticipated that the solution for the monitoring will be “clearly innovative” and the basis for “a modern environmental monitoring policy”, of which Argentina and Uruguay will be proud as an example for the rest of the world.
He was careful to point out though that the joint monitoring package and Brazil’s participation, if and how it happens, has to be decided by the two presidents (Cristina Kirchner and José Mujica).
On Monday, Timerman met with Entre Rios governor Sergio Urribarri, whose province has been directly involved in the dispute since the bridge links Gualeguaychú home of the pickets with Fray Bentos next to the pulp mill.
Following the meeting in Buenos Aires Urribarri confirmed that the Foreign Minister is to “offer an innovative proposal to Uruguay” on Tuesday when he meets with his Uruguayan counterpart, Luis Almagro.
Timerman also assured he is to summon the Gualeguaychú Assembly members to San Martín Palace in order to continue the round of talks on Botnia/UPM issue.
Meantime the Gualeguaychú Environmental Assembly rejected the possibility of including a third country (Brazil) in the supervision of the pulp mill and demanded the “fulfillment” of the ruling by the International Court of Justice which ordered the supervision of the River Uruguay Administrative Committee (CARU).
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