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INSULZA STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF REGIONAL INTEGRATION
December 9, 2005

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay - The Secretary General of the Organization of the American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said regional integration is an issue the OAS has followed for many years and one which it considers especially important.

During the Summit of Mercosur Heads of State, which he attended as a guest, Insulza hailed the work that key organizations have carried out since the 1960s to pave the way in the hemisphere for processes of integration. In his remarks, he announced that in the coming months he would convene a meeting of all the regional and subregional organizations to explore this effort in depth.

Following is a partial transcript of the Secretary General’s speech:

“For many years, first in the 1960s with ALALC, in the 1980s with ALADI and more recently – very significantly, in terms of achieving this major goal of integration – with the creation of regional integration entities such as Mercosur, the Andean Community, the System of Central American Integration and CARICOM, valuable elements have been brought to this process, notwithstanding obstacles and difficulties. I want to report that the OAS intends, in the coming months, to convoke all the subregional and regional integration organizations in order to delve deeply and see how these processes can be articulated and advanced. This morning’s debate was enriching, because Mercosur is a phenomenon that goes beyond the issue of economic integration, and it also captures the political and cultural imagination of an important number of citizens of the hemisphere.

“I consider especially important the points raised by the leaders of the Mercosur countries, in particular those of Presidents Tabaré Vázquez and Ricardo Lagos, regarding specific issues in which it is necessary to plan so that integration is not only a verbal process but one that is productive and fruitful in such areas as the circulation of goods and services, macroeconomic coordination, the circulation of persons, financial instruments, physical and energy integration, science and technology, labor rights in social legislation, and so many other areas that they detailed substantively in their interventions.

“We are at a good moment and on the right track to reflect, within the framework of our integration agreements, on how to continually make these processes more real, in different areas, to achieve a more effective integration in our hemisphere. I want to express my appreciation for the invitation and to emphasize the quality of the debate and the guidelines for action that have been delivered to all the international organizations that take an interest in this issue.”