Either Brazil Uses Its Leadership in Argentina/Uruguay Dispute or It May Lose It

Brazil could be forced to abandon its comfortable neutrality and help finding a negotiated solution to the Argentina/Uruguay dispute over the pulp mills, if its regional leadership role is not to be eroded, argues the São Paulo financial daily Valor, in today’s edition.

Mercosur Foreign Affairs ministers are scheduled to discuss in Brasí­lia "the constant roadblocks by Argentine environmentalists unhappy with the construction of pulp mills on the River Uruguay".

"It’s unthinkable that neighboring countries, partners in a free trade agreement, can live with picket blocking roads that should ensure the free circulation of people and goods among country members," writes Sérgio Leo in Valor.

Another Brazilian leading newspaper also analyzes the Lula  administration regarding its neighbors and praises the fact that Foreign Affairs Minister, Celso Amorim, has begun to mend the "debilitated relations" with Mercosur junior members by visiting last week Uruguay and Paraguay.

However another prestigious financial publication, Gazeta Mercantil sounds rather pessimistic about Brazil’s role in finding a solution. "Brazil washes its hands" writes Gazeta Mercantil following a short interview with Brazil’s Foreign Affairs minister.

But according to Minister Amorim, "Brazil is very close (to finding a solution) in a friendly way but without saying it does have a solution."

"They have to sit and talk and I’m certain they’ll find a solution", Amorim is quoted by Gazeta Mercantil.

Meantime in Montevideo a high ranking Uruguayan diplomat said Uruguay will accuse Argentina before the International Court of The Hague for the recurrent road and international bridge blocking perpetrated by Argentine environmentalists protesting the construction of the Finnish company Botnia pulp mill on the shores of a border river.

Uruguayan ambassador in France, Hector Gros Espiell said the demand will be presented tomorrow Tuesday or Wednesday and "we will be requesting measures to guard against the road blocks".

"We expect the Court to order guard measures against road blocks, given the link with the main case since they constitute an aggravation of the situation", said Gros Espiell.

The ambassador was head of the Uruguayan delegation that confronted the Argentine demand before the International Court for the suspension of the pulp mills construction.

The first ruling favored Uruguay although the Court is still considering the heart of the Argentine demand, the violation of the 1975 Uruguay/Argentina River Uruguay joint management accord.



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