BOGOTA, December 6. /TASS/. Russia is supporting all the integration processes in Latin America and is ready for cooperation with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the director of the Latin American Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Alexander Shchetinin, said in an interview with TASS.
“We back the integration processes in Latin America, and we want it to become politically and economically viable,” Shchetinin said. “In this regard, we support all the integration processes in this region, which work for unity and not for split on any criteria,” he added.
UNASUR is a project of major importance in Latin America, the Russian diplomat said. “We are ready for developing relations with this bloc to the extent to which its member-states are ready to establish ties with non-regional countries, including Russia,” he said.
The diplomat stressed that Russia has been invited at the UNASUR summit that was held in Ecuador’s Quito and Guayaquil on Thursday and Friday by the president of Ecuador, Rafael Delgado.
“We presume that this invitation reflects UNASUR’s interest in strengthening this cooperation,” he said.
After Ernesto Samper was named as UNASUR’s secretary general, the latest steps of the bloc have shown that “there is willingness to expand this cooperation and involve non-regional countries into it,” he said.
“We maintain a close political dialogue with the countries of UNASUR and South America,” he said. The diplomat reminded that in July this year Brazil hosted a summit of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and South American states during which the sides agreed on key international issues.
Therefore, he said the cooperation between Russia and UNASUR “has prospects and is a good supplement to bilateral relations” that Moscow maintains with each country that is part of the bloc.
Shchetinin confirmed that the UNASUR Secretariat and the Russian Foreign Ministry are currently negotiating a memorandum of cooperation. “We are ready for working out those practical documents on cooperation with UNASUR which would use its potential to promote our bilateral contacts with each of its member-states,” he said, adding: “Each such cooperation will have its logics, its own dynamics and results.”
The diplomat said Russia has good cooperation with Ecuador in the political and economic sphere, including large investment projects, namely in the energy sphere. “We are ready for developing this cooperation.”
In May 2008, leaders from 12 South American countries inked the Constitutive Treaty to create UNASUR with the goal of enhancing regional economic and political integration. When Uruguay became the ninth member to ratify the charter in December 2010, the accord gained the necessary votes to give UNASUR legal status. The treaty subsequently went into effect in March 2011 during a meeting at the group’s headquarters in Quito, Ecuador.
The organization brings together Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela, Guyana, Colombia, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay, Chile and Ecuador. Mexico and Panama have the observer status in UNASUR. The union’s main objective is to integrate the member states’ economies and create a free trade zone within 15 years. UNASUR has created the South American Parliament, the South American Bank and South American Defense Council, an advisory and coordinating mechanism, aimed at ensuring conditions for reducing tensions on the continent.