Three hours after landing in Barbados and with his meeting with Prime Minister Mia Mottley still ahead of him, President Alberto Fernández drew a positive balance of his tour of Russia and China.
In an interview, the Peronist leader highlighted his bilateral meetings with Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, while positioning himself as regional leader of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, in its Spanish acronym) upon his visit to the Caribbean island.
Thousands of kilometres away from home, the president was seeking to put domestic conflicts behind him – he recounted a conversation with Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner from Beijing, assuring: “We continue working together to place Argentina on its feet.”
Regarding the controversial statements he made regarding Argentina’s dependence on the United States to his Russian counterpart, Fernández drew responded that there was “nothing new” in what he had said, adding that there had been “no complaints nor questions” from officials of that country since.
From Barbados, Alberto Fernández used a Zoom connection to give details of his tour to PERFIL and a group of journalists.
“I’m very happy with the different meetings. They were very necessary and useful for Argentina,” he said in the first few seconds of the connection, highlighting that his first outing as head of CELAC been to Barbados, one of the Caribbean countries most suffering the consequences of climate change.
The president detailed that in his conversations with Putin and Xi Jinping they discussed the agreement with the International Monetary Fund, the possibility of using and expanding the Special Drawing Rights and the use of currency swaps.
“All three issues were present in both conversations. What I did was thank them for their support with the IMF, we spoke with both of them about the possibility of the special drawing rights being used for something we have on the way, while the swaps with China are pretty advanced.”
He added: “We conversed with President Xi Jinping and we managed to place the swaps and the special drawing rights well on track. What we now need to do is to give time to the technicians of the Central Banks and the Economy or Finance Ministries to find the way of materialising them.”
As for his statements to Putin about consigning dependence on the United States to the past, Fernández detailed: “I neither received nor saw any statement by any official of the US government questioning what I said, which was also pretty obvious. You realise that we have a mega-creditor because the US pre-eminence in the Fund is huge. Did I say anything new? I don’t feel that I did and I don’t think anybody was bothered by it. I did not receive any complaint, nor was it questioned. I believe that we have to maintain serious and responsible relations with the United States as we maintain with everybody because we believe in multilateralism. We believe in it and we practise it.”
The president also hit back against those who accused him of “having bitten the hand that feeds him,” in reference to the United States. “Europe helped me, Russia and China helped me and so did the Latin American countries and I’ll stop there. I know who did so much for the loan to be granted,” he added.
Sat thousands of kilometres away from home, Fernández also responded to questions about domestic politics and the crisis triggered by the resignation of Máximo Kirchner as caucus chief. With the aim of showing the conflict to be overcome, the President replied to Perfil: “I spoke to Cristina when I was in Beijing, I commented to her how the meeting with Putin had gone. We keep working together to place Argentina on its feet, facing the difficulties – everything with the common denominator of wanting to do the best for Argentina. I listen and pay attention to everybody, including Cristina. I read a lot of speculation as to what attitude Cristina is going to assume towards the understanding with the Fund but the reality is that we are going to resolve it via a consensus between us all and I have no doubt that we are going to agree to go ahead with the best decision for Argentina, which is to seal the deal."
Responding to questions about congressional support for the IMF deal, the president commented: “I’m not placing in any doubt the majority accompaniment of our political force.”
From the last destination of the tour, Fernández also spoke of the possibility of our country joining BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa): “The Foreign Ministry has started to work on the issue of BRICS with Brazil. It further interests us because they have a development bank to finance the investments of member countries.”
And he assured that the presidents of Russia and China were in agreement over Argentina joining.