Argentine President Alberto Fernández told his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Friday of Latin America’s concern over the impact of the war in Ukraine on global food prices and energy security.
“I bring the continent’s concern” with me, Fernández said, explaining that the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has generated negative consequences all over the world and also in our Latin America.”
Speaking as the pair shared a brief press conference outside the Élysée Palace, the Frente de Todos leader described his French host as “a leader of Europe who will take into account the concerns” of Latin America and the Caribbean regarding the war in Ukraine.
In his capacity as interim president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) bloc, Fernández said the region cannot “continue to endanger, after the pandemic, food security and security. energy,” again underscoring concerns about the impact of economic sanctions against Moscow.
He called for a ceasefire in Ukraine “as soon as possible”.
“We came to make ourselves available to see what we can do from Latin America to help the world find peace,” Fernández told his French counterpart.
For his part, Macron recommended “collectively responding to the consequences of this war, particularly on agricultural markets”, while warning against “the risk of a major food crisis, particularly in the Middle East and Africa”.
The French president, who described Argentina as “an important player in this stormy scenario”, also called for a rapprochement between Latin America and Europe and for giving new impetus to student exchanges, cultural and economic cooperation, as well as the fight against climate change.
“This joint action includes a strong mobilization in favor of the climate emergency and the preservation of biodiversity, an essential point in the structuring of our exchanges”, he added.
Fernández is the first president to be received at the Élysée Palace by Macron since the French leader was re-elected on May 7 in a second round, beating far-right hopeful Marine Le Pen.
The two leaders also exchanged congratulations, with Macron praising Argentina’s recent $44.5 billion debt restructuring deal with the International Monetary Fund and Fernández hailing his recent re-election.
“We talked about it a few days ago with [former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio] Lula [da Silva]”, said Fernández, who presented Macron with a work by the recently deceased Argentinian artist Antonio Seguí, who had lived in France since 1963. “We celebrated his electoral success in France, which brought calm, a lot of calm to the world.”
The Peronist leader was clearly delighted to be back in France, calling it a “great joy” and with Macron, whom he repeatedly described as a “friend” and invited to visit Buenos Aires.
“My personal affection for President Macron is well known,” he said, hailing the “very long history” and “enormous cultural ties” between the two nations.
Praising France’s respect and promotion of “multiculturalism”, the Argentinian president said his third visit to Paris since taking office focused on the Ukraine crisis, its impact and “the creation of a more equal world with an economic model that integrates and does not displace”.
On a less positive note, Macron also addressed the recent day of a French exchange student in Buenos Aires last week who died in a road accident.
“My heartfelt thoughts go out to the family and friends of Lwana Bichet, a young student from Angoulême [in central France], [who was] passionate about Argentina, who died in a tragic accident a few days ago in Buenos Aires”, declared the French head of state in a press release published before his meeting with Fernández.
In it, Macron pledged to uncover the “truth” about the circumstances surrounding Bichet’s death. The 25-year-old, along with two other companions, were hit by a taxi in the Palmero district of the Argentine capital after the driver of the vehicle allegedly suffered a stroke and heart attack.
Bichet was engaged in a student exchange program at the private University of San Andrés and had been in Buenos Aires for three months.
End of tour
Fernández’s brief visit to Paris ends his European tour, which also made stops in Spain and Germany. Pushing Argentina’s agricultural exports and upcoming energy infrastructure projects, he said Spain could be the entry point for the gas that Argentina intends to sell to Europe in coming years.
The meeting with Macron was very important for the government, although he only received confirmation that it would take place on Tuesday, when Fernández was already in Madrid.
The two leaders enjoy a warm relationship, as evidenced by the affectionate greetings the two presidents extended to each other.
Fernández will return to Argentina later today after visiting three European countries in four days, arriving in Buenos Aires around 11 p.m. local time.