The Mercosur Council formally approved Venezuela’s request to be accepted as a full member of the group. The negotiations to concretize Venezuela’s accession are expected to get underway by May 15, 2006.
This information was given by the national coordinator of the Mercosur, Carlos Amorin. In his speech at the 29th Mercosur Summit Meeting, the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, thanked Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay for "opening the Mercosur’s doors."
He said he has heard criticisms that his presence will end up politicizing the Mercosur, and he commented that this could – and should – occur.
"The Mercosur cannot be just an economic project, but a political one, in order for it truly to belong to the people, a collective project," he affirmed.
He pointed out that, as an oil and gas power, he can contribute to the group. The Venezuelan President also emphasized that his country’s entry into the Mercosur should not damage its relations with the Andean community.
"The objective is for all these mechanisms to relate to one another," he said.
Chavez also observed that, in his opinion, social issues should be given priority in the Mercosur.
"Poverty levels should not be viewed as each country’s separate problem. He commented that the Mercosur should work together. "Economic integration exists, but more spirit of solidarity and cooperativism is needed," he remarked.
According to Amorin, the Council also approved other important projects, such as the Mercosur Parliament, which will be headquartered in Montevideo.
According to him, the Parliament will be in operation by December, 2006. At the Summit, the president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, took over the pro tem presidency of the Mercosur from the Uruguayan president, Tabaré Vásquez. Kirchner’s term of office is six months.