Spindelegger: "We are not even close to exploiting our potential in Latin America"
Foreign Minister at EU-LAC Summit
Madrid, 18 May 2010 - "This intercontinental summit between the EU, Latin America, and the Caribbean is a place of intensive encounters. Especially in a time in which we depend on networks, such places of encounter are necessary", said Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger during the summit of the Heads of State and Government of the EU, Latina America, and the Caribbean in Madrid. The talks will focus on the international financial crisis, as well as joint measures against climate change. On the sidelines of the summit, the completion of negotiations on association treaties with Central America and of the trade treaties with Colombia and Peru has also been planned.
Spindelegger pointed out to the rising economic importance of cooperation between the EU, Latin America, and the Caribbean. The Latin American and Caribbean regions not only have overcome the global financial crisis comparably unscathed, but they are also prominently represented in the G20 group by Brazil, Argentine, and Mexico: "The global crisis and the devastating natural disasters which recently affected Latin America and the Caribbean, have shown how vulnerable we and our system are. Therefore, cooperation and joint efforts are, now more than ever, the order of the day", said Spindelegger.
The Foreign Minister stressed that Austria, too, should become increasingly involved in this region: "Due to its dynamic economic development, this region represents a potential future market for us. We are currently not even close to exploiting our full potential. The total volume of our exports to Latin America amounts to only one third of Austrian exports to Switzerland." In this context, Spindelegger also pointed out to the strong presence of Latin America and the Caribbean in Vienna as a seat of the United Nations. Spindelegger added that the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was also planning to open a joint representation in Vienna soon.
"The EU, Latin America, and the Caribbean are facing similar challenges: Only together can we successfully and sustainably overcome climate change, environmental protection, and the global economic crisis. This summit is designed to help us combine our forces and seek common solutions as partners", said Spindelegger, who pointed out to the adoption of a corresponding action plan by the summit. The EU, Latin America, and the Caribbean should also introduce joint measures against the impact of climate change: "We should direct our focus on practical progress and capacity-building measures. Especially in the field of environmentally friendly and sustainable technologies, Austria can provide significant expertise", said the Foreign Minister.
On the sidelines of the summit, Spindelegger also met with his colleagues René Castro Salazar from Costa Rica, Alfredo Moreno Charme from Chile, and José Antonio García from Peru.Moreover, he had talks with the Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Edwin Carrington, and the Director General of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Len Ishmael.
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