“Relations with Brazil and Argentina today are unbeatable,” Foreign Minister Omar Paganini told El País.

“Relations with Brazil and Argentina today are unbeatable,” Foreign Minister Omar Paganini told El País.

The chancellor Omar Paganini has an optimistic diagnosis about the outcome of the foreign policy of this government, less than nine months after concluding the administration: he classifies as “unbeatable” the terms of the relationship with Brazil and Argentina, with whom important agreements have already been reached. And he hopes that the announced meeting between Luis Lacalle Pou and Javier Milei take place in the next Mercosur summit.

-What position is Uruguay going to show at the next Mercosur summit, in which, possibly, there will be a scenario more favorable to national interests, with Javier Milei’s Argentina showing a vocation clearly aligned with the claims of Luis Lacalle Pou?

-With Argentina we share that the Mercosur it has to be more open; Is in sight. And Uruguay wants to take advantage of its Pro Tempore presidency to achieve a more open Mercosur. In particular, we want to seat China to talk with Mercosur, something that was already planned in the Mercosur-China dialogue, which has worked sometimes, but has not worked for a long time. We want to see a way to bring China closer to Mercosur. And we want to move forward with the European Union.

-Is it the most optimal relationship there is with Argentina in recent years?

-Yes Yes. We are much better off than with the previous government, which had a fairly protectionist agenda and placed obstacles on imports from all destinations, including Uruguay. He also opposed Uruguay’s negotiations with other countries. As is well known, Alberto Fernandez He opposed us moving forward with China. At this moment we are experiencing an Argentine government with an explicit vision on the part of the chancellor, Diana Mondino, to reach agreements in which we all win. Particularly now, for example, that a memorandum of understanding for open skies has been signed between Uruguay and Argentina, which is very important to improve our air connectivitya, and in that sense we are also noticing a much more win-win attitude, because basically there must be more flows between our countries. And of course there is the authorization to dredge the port of Montevideo to 14 meters, which for Uruguay is a very important achievement. Also with Brazil everything is working better; In fact we are in very good relations. The agreements he made (Luiz Inácio) Lula da Silva with (Luis) Lacalle Pou in January of last year all were fulfilled: the Yaguarón bridgethe dredging work for the two lagoons is about to be awarded, and the binational airport in Rivera. All in record time. In other words, both the relationship with Brazil and the one we have with Argentina are on unbeatable terms.

-Is the bilateral meeting announced between Lacalle Pou and Milei expected to take place at the next Asunción summit?

-It is very likely that there will be bilateral meetings, yes, between all parties. The president was with Milei the other time at an event at the Freedom Foundation, and they have spoken on the phone many times; What happens is that Milei’s international agenda is very busy. But it will be a good time to meet.

-What role is Uruguay going to assume in this peace summit that will be held in Ukraine on June 15?

-It is the third one made, but this is the highest level. Presidents, leaders are going to go; I will be in place of the president, who cannot go due to agenda issues. Clearly Uruguay understands that the Ukrainian position must be defended, which is that of self-determination, territorial integrity and avoiding or stopping the Russian aggression.

-At the end of last year there were two motions at the UN on the war between Israel and Hamas, linked to a ceasefire and the entry of humanitarian aid. Uruguay abstained. At the time, the lack of balance in the statements was assessed. Wasn’t there a risk of being interpreted as endorsing the bombing of Gaza?

-I think we were quite clear, and we were many times already. When statements are made in areas such as UN there is a political impact. So, if one makes a statement where it is not acceptable to mention the attacks of October 7, where it is not acceptable to mention Hamas, what we have is something unbalanced, and in some way we are implicitly avoiding condemning what must be condemned. Regardless of the fact that there is also the humanitarian crisis that was unleashed after the attack on Israelwhich worries us a lot and about which we have spoken out more than once.

Omar Paganini, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Omar Paganini, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Photo: Darwin Borrelli

-It is quite clear to the government that what exists in Venezuela is a dictatorship.


-The elections are coming now in that country. With what concern does Uruguay continue the electoral process?

-These elections generate many doubts in us, which began as a path of normalization and today we do not see it evolving as it should.

-With the accession to the Patent Cooperation Treaty that Parliament voted this week, one of the conditions to be able to enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership was met, for which we are on a waiting list. What deadlines is Uruguay managing so that this can be achieved?

-The deadlines are managed by the Treaty Council. It takes a while. I don’t know if many years, but months for sure. The good news in all this is that the process will begin, because afterward it works quite automatically.

-The pre-candidate Álvaro Delgado proposes calling this portfolio the Ministry of Commerce and Foreign Relations, which was criticized by former president Julio María Sanguinetti, who questioned the positioning of commercial matters above politics. As part of Delgado’s technical teams on this issue, I suppose he has an argument to defend the change.

-The order in the name does not matter much. What must be clear is that this ministry has and has always had two very important general directorates, and these are those of Economic Affairs and those of Political issues. And in no way is it intended not to give the importance it has to Political Affairs. But it is also true that one of the main objectives we have is to strengthen international insertion. It happens that foreign trade policy today is shared between different portfolios, and it is good to have a unified leadership and also a certain structure and dedication to foreign trade that has more strength. It is a proposal that also shows one of the objectives that this government would have next year, if it wins the elections: to strengthen the systematic work towards a better international insertionwith the difficulties that the world we have today has, which has become more protectionist, organized in blocs, and where politics and commerce are increasingly mixing.

-Precisely, don’t you see it a bit against the grain that with this global panorama, Lacalle Pou’s position is to go out and negotiate alone, if Mercosur does not accompany?

-The scenario is always complex. And in Mercosur it is also, because there is a different geopolitical alignment of the different leaders. But it is the world we are in, we have to manage complexity and Uruguay cannot afford to say “I am 100% committed to trading only with one geopolitical block”; We have to trade with everyone we can, but we also have to maintain our long-term positions on foreign policy, which are quite well known, and which have given us prestige and principles: based on rules, seeking Defense of human rightsseek the defense of peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms…

-There are those who say that in the event that the National Party wins and the multicolor coalition continues, the continuation of its management here is also seen as natural, along with that of Undersecretary Nicolás Albertoni. Would you continue in the Foreign Ministry in that scenario?

-Those decisions will come in due course. And I am not going to condition this on Slim, that if we win he will have to assemble the government team. I am comfortable here.

-When he was appointed last November, Facundo Márquez, president of the Exporting Union, mentioned the “renewal” that was completed with the complete change of minister and undersecretary (Albertoni had already replaced Carolina Ache). Do you understand that there has been a positive change in the portfolio recently?

-It is very difficult for me to evaluate the previous stages, so I am not going to answer the question.

-This Thursday Busqueda reported that the family of drug trafficker Sebastián Marset is processing the birth certificate of their children so that they can study in Saudi Arabia. Can this information help locate the criminal?

-I have no idea if it can help. That is not our task, but that of the Ministry of the Interior and Interpol. I don’t want to speculate on that because it would be talking about what I have no idea about.

-The Foreign Ministry has not yet initiated an administrative investigation after learning that a document from a file in this portfolio, with chats about the Marset case, ended up in the Presidency, and was destroyed there. Why wasn’t this done? The only reason is that an investigation is already underway in the Prosecutor’s Office in this regard?

-It’s the only reason. It must be clarified, simply, that there was a complete administrative investigation that was carried out before, for the issuance of the passport, which was during the time of Chancellor Francisco Bustillo, and that was sent to the corresponding judicial authorities. And the truth is that I don’t think it’s worth being redundant, when the Foreign Ministry, which is under the command of the Prosecutor’s Office, should focus on its main task.

-What fate is ex-chancellor Bustillo going to have? It is defined?

-No, it is not defined. He’s on leave. He had quite a lot of leave accumulated.

Javier Milei assures that he will achieve his economic objectives “despite politics”
Chancellor Mondino, President Milei and Luis Lacalle Pou, during the ‘Freedom Dinner’.

Photo: EFE

Patent treaty: reservation has no impact

-How does the reservation of chapter 2 of the Patent Cooperation Treaty, approved this week in Parliament, affect?

-That was a condition that Cabildo Abierto and also the Frente Amplio requested to be able to vote for it. It does not imply modifying the treaty, which in article 6 allows countries, for a time, to establish different types of reservations. In this case, what was approved is the reservation of the preliminary study. That is, a person interested in patenting can ask the intellectual property organization for a preliminary study, where they are given a very complete report of which countries have patents similar to the one that one is thinking of patenting. Then there the interested party can evaluate whether the patenting process is worth it and in which countries it may be worth it. It is one of the many things established in the treaty. Perhaps it is not the most important and in fact it is the one that is least used lately. Those interested in having it defended that this was a slightly more gradual way of participating in the Patent Treaty, and then it seemed to us that given the impact it was going to have, it could be accepted.

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