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Argentine President calls for Europe’s support

Published on January 20, 2005

PARIS, Jan 20 (AFP) - Argentina's president, Nestor Kirchner, pleaded Thursday for Europe to help his economically battered country get back on its feet by extending development support free from conditions.

In a speech in Paris highlighting relations between Europe and Latin America, Kirchner stressed that Argentina was on the road to recovery and could, with help, climb out of the morass that led to its 2001 debt default – the largest sovereign default in history.

That help, though, should not come with obligations assuming that every country is the same, he said, obliquely lashing the International Monetary Fund, which has been forcing Buenos Aires to increase its post-crash debt-swap offers.

Railing against “models imposed by multilateral institutions” and “double standards,” Kirchner called for European investment, technology transfers and the relocation of corporate services to Argentina.

“Argentina doesn’t need assistance but rather support for a new development path,” he said, arguing that one-size-fits-all economic models should be dropped for a case-by-case approach so that each country receives attention “that suits it best for development and social inclusion.”

Before the conference, Kirchner met French President Jacques Chirac to talk over Argentina’s economic problems and in particular the situation of French companies which lost a lot of money in the financial crisis.

Chirac told Kirchner he supported Argentina’s economic and financial reconstruction, but stated that “a rapid settlement” of disputes concerning French companies, notably in the water treatment and energy sectors, was needed for French investment to fully return.

His comments followed a decision last week by Argentinian authorities to fine subsidiaries of French companies Electricite de France and the Suez water distribution and sewerage firm for not going ahead with stalled projects.

Argentina this month launched a campaign to convince foreign private investors to accept a swap of more than USD 80 billion (EUR 62 million) in unpaid debt in a bid to climb out of its crisis, which has plunged more than half its population into poverty.

The terms, spread across 16 different currencies, would in each case repay only around 30 percent of the face value of the debt, and without any interest included since the 2001 default.

Argentina has several times revised upwards its debt repayment offer in an effort to placate investors who have balked at previous proposed deals, and convince the IMF to let it roll over the USD 14.4 billion (EUR 1 billion) it owes the fund and thus regain access to global capital markets.


Subject: French News