May 16, 2022 8:50 am

Amid the tensions, Alberto Fernández left to meet Putin and Xi Jinping: the details of the tour

ROMA.- With a crisis just breaking out at home after the Maximo Kirchner’s door slam in advance with the IMF, and another, worldwide, given the winds of war between Russia and Ukraine, President Alberto Fernandez He embarked on his first tour of the year. This will last a week and, aside from Barbados, the final stop on the journey, it has as its goal two geopolitically crucial destinations and “not politically correct” right now: Russia and China. When it comes to democracy, human rights and freedom of the press, neither Russia nor China enjoy very high marks from the Western point of view, as do their two leaders, Vladimir Putin y Xi Jinping, both in power for more than a decade, arouse concern.

On his first stopover, Moscow, where he will arrive this Wednesday afternoon, Fernández will have his first private face-to-face meeting with Putin on Thursday. An almost monarchical figure in Russia, the Russian president will offer his peer a working lunch in one of the halls of the imposing Kremlin Palace. The format of the meeting -which will be repeated in a few weeks by the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro– then provides a statement to the press.

Putin was in Buenos Aires in December 2018, on the occasion of the G20 organized during the presidency of Mauricio Macri, who was the last Argentine president to visit Moscow, in January 2018.

The Putin-Fernández meeting, who is traveling with a reduced entourage of 15 people due to the obsession with the spread of coronavirus in China, takes place in a totally different international context. Not only because there was a pandemic that brought the two countries closer together as a result of Sputink V – a vaccine purchased en masse by the Government, which will take advantage of the occasion to thank the collaboration in the health emergency – but also because Putin is in the eye of the storm. The escalation of military maneuvers, the movement of troops and an ambiguous Cold War rhetoric in recent weeks have created alarm in all European capitals and in Washington. And they have once again put on the table the role of NATO, a defensive alliance that Ukraine dreams of joining, the apple of discord.

Alberto Fernández announces the manufacture of Sputnik V in Argentina together with the President of Russia, Vladimir PutinESTEBAN COLLAZO

True reflection of the concern that exists in Europe and in the midst of intense diplomatic negotiations so that no spark suddenly ignites the fire, Putin yesterday had a conversation with the Italian Prime Minister, Mario Draghi. “Draghi stressed the importance of working for a de-escalation of tensions in light of the serious consequences that a worsening of the crisis would have,” said a statement from Palazzo Chigi, the seat of government.

Beyond the international concern for Ukraine -a conflict in which the country maintains a neutral position, as diplomatic sources point out again and again-, the trip to Moscow and The meeting with Putin has a very clear objective: it seeks to strengthen and relaunch a good bilateral relationship, but one that could be much better, especially in terms of commercial, scientific and technological exchange. In addition, it aims to obtain some extra financial assistance, such as a possible transfer of SDRs (special drawing rights), the Fund’s currency.

Fernández will be in Moscow for less than 24 hours. After his meeting with Putin, he will get back on the plane to travel to Beijing. Specially invited by Xi Jinping to attend the opening of the Winter Olympics, a ceremony in which Putin will also be present, Fernández will have a longer stay in the capital of the Asian giant and with a much more extensive agenda.

As reported, on Friday, after participating virtually in a ceremony in which he will receive the title of Honorary Professor of Tsinghua University, will visit the Chinese Communist Party Museum, where he will deliver a floral offering, take a guided tour and sign the book of distinguished visitors. Later he will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics at the National Stadium in Beijing. As is known, this is a sporting event with which the Asian dragon seeks to consolidate its leadership, which has been boycotted by the United States due to concerns about alleged human rights violations.

Xi Jinping
Xi JinpingAlberto Pizzoli – AFP

The next day, Saturday, you will visit the Palace Museum of the so-called and spectacular Forbidden City and then, just 1500 meters from there, in the Tiananmen Squarewill make a floral offering at the mausoleum of Mao Zedong. He will participate, in addition to a lunch in honor of the heads of state who traveled to the opening of the Winter Olympics and will meet with the Argentine Olympic delegation.

When in Argentina it is still Sunday at 12:40 a.m., but in China it will be Monday at 11:40 a.m., the most important event will finally take place: that is, the meeting with Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People.

The Great Hall of the People, seat of the National People's Congress, in Tiananmen Square in Beijing
The Great Hall of the People, seat of the National People’s Congress, in Tiananmen Square in BeijingAP

China is one of the main commercial partners of the country, since it is an important buyer of Argentine soybeans and meat; In addition, it has a crucial currency swap deal with the country, something that helps bolster its central bank reserve levels. Apart from reinforcing a consolidated bilateral relationship, also in this case and with the approval of the IMF, it will seek to expand external financing.

The expectation is not only placed around the possible expansion of the swap (exchange of currencies to reinforce local reserves), but also that Argentina joins the so-called new “Silk Road”. It is a megaproject of infrastructure works against a backdrop of billions of dollars that the Chinese government has around the planet to consolidate its global power. A large part of the Asian countries have already joined, some from Europe and in America Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela have already joined.

It goes without saying that the “Silk Road” is not well seen by the United States, which with China’s aggressive strategy is losing influence throughout the world. Although the principle of agreement with the IMF announced last week decompressed the pressure.

The official activity in China will end on the same day with a visit to the Huawei Technology Center and the Great Wall of Mutianyu. Immediately afterwards, Fernández and his entourage will get back on the plane to start the return trip, making a stopover in Bridgetown, capital of the tiny Caribbean island of Barbados. There he will meet on Tuesday with the Prime Minister Mia Mottley and then with representatives of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The return home is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Mia Amor Mottley
Mia Amor Mottley

Fernández will travel accompanied by the Foreign Minister santiago cafiero, the governors Arabela Carreras (Black river), Axel Kicillo (Buenos Aires) and Raúl Jalil | (Catamarca); the spokesperson for the Presidency, Gabriela Cerruti; sports secretary, Inés Arrondo; the senator Adolfo Rodriguez Saa, deputy Eduardo Valdesthe presidential adviser Cecilia Nicolini, and the mayor of José C. Paz, Mario Ishii. In addition, the entourage to Russia will be made up of the Minister of Economy, Martin Guzman.

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