"We must stand united or else we will fail. In today's globalised world there will be no space for the weak", said Uruguay's President Enrique Mujica on Tuesday, at the opening session of Eurolat's Fifth Plenary Session in Montevideo. Eurolat Co-President José Ignacio Salafranca i (EPP, ES), also warned that "isolation, even if sought by the richest or most powerful, is now an impossible dream".
Current negotiations between the EU i and Mercosur i - which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay - and the need to improve cooperation on migration dominated the speeches at the opening ceremony, in which Colombia's Vice-President Angelino Garzón also took part. The Eurolat Executive Bureau also met on Tuesday and adopted two joint declarations on the situation in the Arab world and on the fight against climate change.
Replying to journalists' questions on a recent statement by French President Nicolas Sarkozy i about negotiations with Mercosur, Mr Salafranca said:
"Thanks to the Lisbon Treaty, the European Parliament has new powers to ratify pending association and trade agreements with Central America, Colombia and Peru. It will be also in our hands to give impetus to negotiations between the EU and Mercosur for an agreement which we believe will multiply exponentially trade, political and cultural exchanges between both regions".
"This chamber has often stressed the desirability of achieving a balanced and ambitious approach with Mercosur. If there is enough political will, we shall be able to find a solution to accommodate the interests of both parties, especially in the case of sensitive agricultural products", he added.
The MEP also stressed the importance of the fact that this Fifth Parliamentary Session had brought together parliamentary representatives from both regions in tough times of economic crisis, when Europe is fighting to find the path of economic growth and employment creation, whereas Latin America, together with Asia, is leading world economic growth.
On Tuesday the Eurolat Executive Bureau adopted a Declaration on the situation of the Arab countries in the Mediterranean, unanimously calling for an independent enquiry, under the auspices of the United Nations or the International Court, into the violent attacks to suppress protestors in Libya, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain.
The parliamentarians also expressed their strong support for the democratic reforms starting in Tunisia and Egypt and took note of the "real consequences" brought about by the UN Security Council resolutions on Libya.