EU-Latin America leaders fail to agree on final statement on war in Ukraine

Leader speak at a joint news conference at the end of the third EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, July 18, 2023
Leader speak at a joint news conference at the end of the third EU-CELAC summit in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday, July 18, 2023 Copyright Francois Walschaerts/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Aida Sanchez Alonso
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Nicaragua was the only country to object to the inclusion of the conflict.


Despite the promises of investment and the signature of several deals, the war in Ukraine has plagued a summit between the EU and Latin American and Caribbean countries, which took place Monday and Tuesday.

Just one single country, Nicaragua, failed to agree with the final declaration of the meeting because it includes a reference to the war in Ukraine. The text, however, due to varying sensitivities on both sides of the Atlantic, has been watered down and doesn't condemn the Russian aggression.

But European Council President Charles Michel said that despite this, he is happy with the final statement. 

"We are extremely satisfied to have been able to achieve a very strong position of 60 countries, 60 countries around the EU and CELAC table," the Belgian told reporters on Tuesday.

"And I simply noted, with my colleague, who is the co-president for this summit, (Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) Ralph Gonsalves, that only one country could not agree because of a paragraph."

The other controversial topic was about how to refer to the historical trans-Atlantic slave trade.

The solution was a paragraph acknowledging and regretting the untold suffering inflicted on millions of people but which holds no commitment to reparations.

But the summit served above all to relaunch trade ties between the two sides.

The European Commission has also pledged €45 billion in investment projects that cover areas such as the green energy sector.

Several agreements have been signed, including one with Chile establishing a partnership on much-needed critical raw materials.

Alberto Fernández, the President of Argentina, praised the outcome of the summit.

"This is the first time that we have been able to discuss and speak clearly about a mechanism to put an end to extractivism in Latin America," he said during a press conference in Brussels following the summit.

"This idea that Latin America is only a producer of primary production and it seems that it has always been prevented from industrialising this primary production. And this is the first time that we can talk about extractivism without blame. Half-jokingly, half seriously, it took five centuries, but we finally succeeded."

The European Union is trying to counterbalance the growing influence of China in the region, as the Asian giant has managed to become Latin America's second major trade partner, behind the US and ahead of the EU.

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