Tensions ran high on the closing day of a summit between leaders of the EU and Latin America. It is initially intended as a cordial gathering but was marred by diplomatic fracas over the war in Ukraine.
Ambassadors worked tirelessly overnight and into Tuesday morning. Struggling to find even the most neutral language to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. The talks were hindered by reservations expressed by some Central and South American nations, including Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua.
Expressing his frustration, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel remarked. “It would be a shame if we are unable to acknowledge the Russian aggression in Ukraine. It is an undeniable fact, and I am not here to rewrite history.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar went a step further, stating, “Sometimes it’s better to have no conclusions at all than to have language that doesn’t mean anything.”
The highly anticipated summit, occurred eight years after the previous one. It became deadlocked over who would yield first. It is an issue that had already gained overwhelming support from the majority of the 60 attending nations in multiple votes at the United Nations and other international institutions.
Economic Initiatives and Influence of China
While the 27-member EU aimed for the summit to focus on new economic initiatives and closer cooperation to counter the growing influence of China in the region. Several leaders from the 33-member Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) brought forth century-old grievances related to colonialism and slavery.
“Europe has been and still is overwhelmingly the benefactor in a relationship where Latin America and the Caribbean. It has been and continues to be unequally treated,” stated Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. He holds the CELAC presidency.
While the defence of Ukraine and condemnation of Moscow are routine positions for EU nations. Many governments in Latin and Central America have adopted a more neutral stance towards the conflict in Europe, considering it just one among many global issues of concern.
The disagreements at the EU- Latin America summit highlighted the complexities of bridging historical divides and aligning regional priorities. The failure to reach a consensus on the Ukraine issue overshadowed the original objectives of the summit. Emphasising the existing challenges in EU-Latin America relations. Moreover, the need for further dialogue to address historical grievances while promoting cooperation on pressing contemporary issues.