Milei meets Germany’s Scholz in pared-down working meeting

After a military ceremony and a press conference were canceled, Germany’s chancellor urged Argentina’s president to consider the social impact of his reforms

President Javier Milei shared a one-hour working meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin Sunday. They discussed renewable energy, the Mercosur-European Union free trade agreement, and Argentina’s bid to enter the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Scholz urged Milei to consider the social impact of his wide-reaching economic reforms as he implements his economic agenda. “The chancellor emphasized that, in his opinion, social compatibility and protection of social cohesion should be fundamental pillars,” the German government said.

During the meeting, the pair agreed that talks over the EU-Mercosur free trade deal should be wrapped up swiftly, according to a statement by the German government. Scholz also communicated the German government’s support for Argentina’s bid to enter the OECD.

The leaders also discussed renewable energy and global climate protection. Argentina has large reserves of lithium and other raw materials that are critical for the energy transition, although the communiqué did not specify whether the parties discussed lithium.

“Argentina is one of Germany’s most important trade partners in Latin America,” the German government’s statement read.

The meeting began at noon, German time, at the Berlin chancellery. Outside, around two dozen protesters chanted anti-Milei slogans and waved banners against the Argentine leader.

Milei was accompanied by Argentine Foreign Minister Diana Mondino, his sister and Presidency Secretary Karina Milei, deputy Fernando Iglesias — who leads the Foreign Affairs commission in the Lower House — and Argentine Ambassador to Germany, Fernando Brun.

Milei’s visit to Berlin was initially scheduled to include a formal military reception for the Argentine president and a joint press conference. However, it was pared down to a one-hour working meeting at Milei’s request, a decision taken at short notice on Wednesday. 

“It will be a very short working meeting, at the explicit request of the Argentine president,” said Scholz’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit during a press briefing on Friday. 

“It will only be around an hour, hence the rejection of the military honors, and the Argentine president also clearly rejected doing a press conference. I have learned that since taking office, he has given very few or no press conferences, so we have complied with that wish.”

Hebestreit said the changes were due to timing. However, they came after Hebestreit said Milei’s comments about Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his wife, Begoña Gómez, were in “poor taste” and that Sánchez’s response had been correct. Milei implied that Gómez was “corrupt” during a speech in May. The comments resulted in a diplomatic spat that saw Spain permanently recalling its ambassador to Argentina.

Although he greeted U.S. President Joe Biden and Pope Francis at the G7 summit earlier this month, Milei’s meetings with heads of state thus far have mainly included fellow far-right leaders. In an international agenda heavily populated by alt-right conferences and award ceremonies, he has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Italy’s Giorgia Meloni and El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele in recent months. The meeting with Scholz, of Germany’s center-left Social Democrat Party, is his first tête-à-tête with a leader from the opposite end of the political spectrum.

Milei embarked on a fresh visit to Europe this week. He arrived in Spain on Friday to receive an award at the Juan de Mariana Institute, a libertarian think tank, and collect a medal from Madrid’s conservative regional leader, Isabel Diaz Ayuso, a staunch opponent of socialist Sánchez. Spain’s Foreign Ministry expressed strong disapproval at what it called Milei’s “deviation from expected diplomatic norms” in deciding to shun top government officials during his visit.

On Saturday, Milei was handed a medal by the German neoliberal organization, the Hayek Society. There, he gave a speech in which he said Argentine traditional politicians “not only did not vote for any of [our] bills” but had even “tried to carry out a coup since the very start” of his term.


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