Colombia’s foreign minister Jaime Bermudez urged the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) on Wednesday to focus on export restrictions, nations meddling in internal affairs of other countries, and the movement of people.
Speaking at the UNASUR conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bermudez argued that the regional organization must focus on these issues as a “primary agenda,” in order to move forward with UNASUR’s objective of South American integration, according to a press release on Wednesday from the Foreign Ministry.
The issue of export restrictions and meddling have been particularly important issues to Colombia in recent months.Colombia continues to feel the effects of Venezuela’s trade restrictions, which have cost the Andean nation billions.
In addition, Colombia has complained of Venezuelan meddling in its upcoming presidential elections.
Despite the disputes between countries, Bermudez went on to argue that it is necessary “to move along the path of integration not ideologically, but, as had been said, seperated from ideology, respecting the essential foundations of democracy.”
Bermudez’s comments appear to coincide with a statement made Tuesday by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in which Chavez called for UNASUR countries to put aside their “ideological positions,” in order for the budding regional bloc to move forward.
Bermudez explained that there should be “institutional independence, civil rights guarantees for all citizens, effective transparency, security for all, and an effective, not rhetorical social policy.”
The minister went on to express Colombia’s support for the recently elected Secretary General of UNASUR, former Argentinian president Nestor Kirchner, who is the husband of current president Cristina Fernandez Kirchner.
UNASUR is an inter-governmental organization, modeled on the European Union, that merges two existing customs unions: Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations, as part of a continuing process of South American integration.