SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, Spain – Uruguayan President Jose Mujica on Sunday asked Spain to play a decisive role in the negotiations between the European Union and Mercosur to ensure that they are fruitful and an association agreement that includes free trade can be concluded.
“We’ve been discussing an agreement for Mercosur (with the EU) for 10 years,” said Mujica, and he asked Madrid to see to it that Europe agrees to the pact “because the decisions that are being taken at this time ... are going to have repercussions of an historic nature.”
The Uruguayan leader made his remarks during an appearance before the media in this northwestern city shortly after holding a brief meeting with the president of the region of Galicia, Alberto Nuñez Feijoo.
Mujica traveled to the capital of Galicia on Sunday afternoon from the Basque Country, his earlier stop on the official visit he is making to Spain.
He referred to the growing international presence of the Chinese economy, which is “ever more present with its demand power” in Latin America, noting that currently the “biggest customer” for the Mercosur member states is the Asian giant and predicting that Beijing’s weight in the region will be even greater next year.
“Yes, it interests us for Spain to come to an agreement with us! ... For its own benefit, but also because it influences Europe, because we need balance in this world,” Mujica said, adding that whether it knows it or not Madrid acts as the representative of Ibero-America within the EU.
Mujica said he had come to Galicia, in particular, on his trip to Spain “because (the region) has a great deal to do with building our nation,” adding that “business can never replace certain very profound things that have no price and that have to do with identity.”
Before traveling to Galicia, Mujica spent the morning in the Basque Country on a nostalgic and emotional trip to the little town of Muxica from where his ancestors come and which bears a variant of his surname.