May 24, 2013
CFK at UNO in NYC III
Viewed 24 hours after its delivery, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s speech to the 67th United Nations General Assembly should not be defined as either good or bad but rather open-ended — the devil lies in the detail and the proof will be in the pudding. Thus the most controversial item of her speech — confirmation of the meeting between Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and his Iranian counterpart Ali Akbar Salehi (which might or might not have occurred by the time this editorial is read) — should not only be judged by the fact of the encounter but the conditions surrounding it. Thus if dialogue is allowed to proceed on Iranian terms of a pleasant chat about general bilateral relations (possibly including some lucrative grain trading) with an umbrella over the 1994 terrorist bomb destruction of the AMIA Jewish community centre, CFK would deserve far harsher criticism than if she honoured the qualifying remarks accompanying the announcement of the meeting — for example, multiparty consultation and giving virtual veto rights to the families of the 85 fatal victims. Yet even if CFK adopted the harshest possible stance with Iran (e.g. calling off the dialogue altogether unless Tehran hands over the current and former officials wanted by Interpol in connection with AMIA), she still would not be immune from criticism — even with the stiffest condemnation of Iranian terrorism, it would be good to see Argentina sharing some of the worldwide concern over Iran’s nuclear programme instead of exclusively pursuing its own agenda.
Again we would need to see how the relationship with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) pans out before drawing any serious conclusions from CFK’s sharp retort on Tuesday. Was the tart rejoinder to IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s “red card” talk simply a fit of pique with no further consequences or was it part of a strategy of a grandstanding break with the IMF, playing the nationalist card for next year’s crucial midterm elections? This strategy has yet to be spelled out — the official position continues to be the hope of averting confrontation with the IMF by agreeing to a new nationwide inflation index by 2014 and 2015 but the latest ultimatum would have been avoided if that formula were still sustainable. Nor did CFK’s comments in Georgetown University yesterday feed hopes of any end to Argentine inflation denial — quite the contrary.
Lots of words from the United States this week but perhaps we would be wiser to await events both here and elsewhere.