CELAC-EU Summit: A Score for Latin America

 

By Carmen Esquivel Sarría on June 12, 2015

Celac 117The Second Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU) held in Brussels, agreed to strengthen their bi-regional relationship and was a positive sign for countries south of the Rio Grande River.

It was a very fruitful meeting that served to bring closer the two blocks, said the head of state of Ecuador and President pro tempore of CELAC, Rafael Correa, in the closing ceremony. The event was attended by over 40 leaders and high-level delegations from 61 countries.

For two days leaders of both regions discussed a wide range of issues ranging from climate change to poverty reduction, migration, trade development and access to new technologies.

The parties agreed on the need to work together to achieve binding agreements at the conference to be held in Paris this year and to discuss the challenges of climate change. The delegations also discussed migration to Europe because of the lack of opportunities in countries of origin and agreed that the problem requires an assessment and concerted an international response.

Another issue on the table was the need to deepen mutual ties to be able to reach their full potential in achieving strong and sustainable growth. According to Correa, “Our region no longer requires support to build a small school, but what we need is human talent, science and technology”.

Beyond the bi-regional issues the Brussels Declaration picked topics of great interest and concern in Latin America. Argentina’s foreign minister Hector Timerman declared at the end of the summit that, “The balance is very positive for Argentina and the region”.

The final document included for the first time two closely linked issues for Argentina that includes the need to protect sovereign debt restructuring and respect for their territorial integrity, which refers to the conflict over the Malvinas Islands.

Throughout the summit there were considerable signs of support for Venezuela with the explicit rejection by the summit to unilateral coercive measures on that country that are contrary to international law. The final text of Brussels takes special note of the Special Declaration of CELAC, from January 29, 2015, on unilateral actions against Venezuela, and the solidarity statement delivered by CELAC on March 26, 2015.

The leaders also welcomed the announcement last December 17 by the presidents of Cuba, Raul Castro, and the United States, Barack Obama, to move towards the restoration and normalization of bilateral relations. In this context in the final statement it makes clear that there is an expectation that all necessary steps towards the early end of the blockade will take place including the extraterritorial provisions of the Helms-Burton Act.

The summit welcomed the commitment made by the CELAC in Havana declaring Latin America as a zone of peace and to settle disputes by peaceful means. It also expressed its satisfaction with the dialogue process between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and urged the parties to conclude negotiations as soon as possible. The European Union approved the creation of a trust fund to assist the South American country after the conflict which is the oldest in the Americas.

The Brussels meeting was the second with the EU since the creation of the CELAC in 2010. The theme this time was entitled ‘Shaping our Common Future: Working Towards Prosperous, Cohesive and Sustainable Societies for our Citizens. ”

The CELAC – EU event coincided with the parallel People’s Summit being held in another part of Brussels which was attended by over a thousand of delegates from 43 nations. Support for Venezuela, rejecting the blockade against Cuba, the return of the Guantanamo Naval base to Cuba, support for Argentina in its legitimate claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands and for Ecuador in its struggle against the excesses of transnational corporations, were main topics of discussions at the People’s Summit.

Source: Prensa Latina