|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Argentina
After lodging protests against what he described as the United Kingdom’s militarization of the South Atlantic with the leadership of major United Nations bodies, Argentina’s Minister for Foreign Affairs called today for the start of dialogue on the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands ( Falklands).
“We have the Secretary-General supporting dialogue, the President of the General Assembly supporting dialogue, the President of the Security Council supporting dialogue, the Republic of Argentina supporting dialogue,” Foreign Minister Héctor Marcos Timerman said at a Headquarters press conference. “So only Great Britain is missing,” he added.
Thanking several Latin American representatives in the room for their attendance, Mr. Timerman gave an overview of the presentation he had provided to the Secretary-General and the Presidents of the Security Council and General Assembly, which was augmented by visuals of British military hardware and maps. He also reiterated his country’s commitment to regaining sovereignty over the Malvinas (Falklands), the Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, solely by peaceful means.
Displaying a map of the South Atlantic, he pointed out the presence of British military bases on Santa Helena, the Georgia Islands, Antarctica, the Malvinas ( Falklands), among other places. That made the United Kingdom the largest military power in the region, with control over traffic in and around it exercised from a capital 14,000 kilometres away, he said. It was the last vestige of colonial empire, he noted, adding: “‘Britannia rules’ only applies in the South Atlantic.”
Citing reports of a Vanguard nuclear submarine stationed in the region, he said the British Government had refused to confirm or deny them. If it was in the vicinity, it would not be the first time, he added, recalling that, in 2003, Argentina had received intelligence information about spilled nuclear materials in the Malvinas ( Falklands). He noted that the United Kingdom had signed on, with a reservation, to a treaty on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Latin America. However, it was apparently not in compliance with that instrument, unlike all the other signatories, he said.
Screening pictures of a Dauntless Type 45 destroyer, Typhoon 2 warplanes, Taurus missiles and an ultra-sophisticated communications network that he said were being deployed in the islands, the Minister stressed that such hardware outperformed all other military capabilities in the region and was of the kind recently used in Libya and the Persian Gulf. Asking why such weaponry was needed in the region, he noted that it put Argentina, Uruguay, a large part of Chile and southern Brazil within range, adding that British aircraft had violated Argentine airspace relatively recently.
Maintaining that the United Kingdom was using an unjustified defence of self-determination as an excuse for militarizing the South Atlantic, he said it faced no threat that Argentina would restore its sovereignty over the Malvinas ( Falklands) through military means, emphasizing that its Constitution prescribed only peaceful means in pursuing that purpose. He urged the United Kingdom to comply with the numerous General Assembly resolutions that called for both parties to sit down at the negotiating table and refrain from the militarization of the South Atlantic. “Give peace a chance,” he said, quoting John Lennon.
In response to a question, Mr. Timerman said that the President of the Security Council had pledged to communicate his information to other Council members, and to request a meeting with representatives of the United Kingdom so that he could transmit his protest and his desire to conduct a constructive dialogue on sovereignty. The Security Council presidency, currently held by Togo, would then communicate to him the United Kingdom’s reply and the responses of Council members.
He said the current escalation in the dispute had been prompted by recent statements by the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, Defence Secretary and military officials, urging a military solution and accusing Argentina of colonialism. If any country was colonialist it was the United Kingdom, he countered, recalling the history of the dispute between the two countries.
Asked about the self-determination of the 2,500 to 3,000 inhabitants of the islands that wished to remain British, he said that, while Argentina was a staunch defender of the right to self-determination around the world, the United Nations stated that a country’s territorial integrity could not be determined by the people inhabiting parts of it.
He went on to emphasize that the Malvinas (Falklands) fell naturally to Argentina by its location, and their population was not indigenous. In any case, international norms stated that the interests of inhabitants, not their desires, must be taken into account, he added, comparing the situation to that of Hong Kong. The flag currently flown by ships from the Malvinas ( Falklands) was rejected by relevant regional organizations.
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