|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Foreign Ministers Representing Argentina,
Union of South American Nations
Despite a recent “illegal” status referendum to the contrary, the Malvinas (Falkland Islands) — which had long been illegally colonized and militarized by the United Kingdom — rightfully belonged to Argentina, the country’s Foreign Minister said at a Headquarters press conference today.
“It is a matter of sovereignty and territorial integrity,” declared Héctor Marcos Timerman, who was joined by a number of counterparts from Latin American, Caribbean and South American States. He said the region’s countries were coming together today to ask the United Nations to convince the United Kingdom to sit down and discuss the rightful status of the much-contested South Atlantic archipelago. The region was fully united when it came to the status of the Malvinas (Falklands) and the nearby South Sandwich Islands, South Georgia Islands and surrounding areas, he added.
Accompanying him at the press conference were Bruno Rodríguez Parrila, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Cuba (representing the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States); Luis Almagro, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Uruguay (representing the Southern Common Market, MERCOSUR); and José Beraún Araníbar, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Peru (representing the Union of South American Nations).
Indeed, Mr. Timerman continued, the purpose of today’s high-level press conference was to express the firm intention of the Latin American and Caribbean region that the Malvinas ( Falklands) were Argentine. “It is truly deplorable that, even though there are 40 resolutions of the United Nations [including one granting the Secretary-General the mandate to exercise a good offices mission], the United Kingdom has explicitly rejected the mandate,” he said, reiterating that Argentina wished for a peaceful settlement to the issue. The United Kingdom had already invaded Argentina four times as a result of the conflict, he recalled. Moreover, the region denounced that country’s militarization of the Malvinas ( Falklands) area, he said, adding that it still refused to answer as to whether or not it had deployed a nuclear submarine in the area.
Mr. Timerman also stressed that a status referendum conducted in the Malvinas ( Falklands) earlier this month, in which the islands had voted to remain part of British territory, was illegal. “The United Nations does not recognize it because referendums organized by colonizers are not recognized,” he said. Some 40 per cent of the islands’ inhabitants had been born in the United Kingdom, 14,000 miles away from the Malvinas ( Falklands). “These are the people voting in the referendum,” he said, recalling that the United Nations had rejected a 1967 referendum, also held by the United Kingdom, in Gibraltar. That had set a precedent for the current situation in the South Atlantic.
Taking the floor, Mr. Rodriguez said that the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States supported the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Malvinas (Falklands), South Sandwich and South Georgia Islands, and the Argentine Government’s ability to resolve the “anachronistic” situation surrounding them. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States hoped Argentina and the United Kingdom could re-launch negotiations and find a peaceful solution, in line with relevant United Nations resolutions. He recalled in particular the provisions of a General Assembly resolution calling on both parties to refrain from unilateral decisions on the issue. The region’s Heads of State and Government called on Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to act under his good offices mandate in the context of the disputed islands, he said.
Concurring on the need to rely on the Secretary-General’s good offices mandate, Mr. Almagro said the referendum had recognized a right to secession that, in fact, did not exist. Negotiations must be renewed immediately as the current situation was “dysfunctional”, he said. There was greater military activity in the area, as well as an increase in the exploitation of natural resources in the South Atlantic Ocean, he pointed out.
Mr. Araníbar said that South American States had affirmed Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas ( Falklands) in all their official documents and declarations. The Union of South American Nations wished to reiterate not only a desire for peace, but also a need to find rapid solutions to persistent problems in today’s increasingly complex world. Other parts of the globe, including several African and Arab countries, were now engaged in their own struggles for sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Asked whether Argentina would raise the issue with the new Argentine Pope, Mr. Timerman said: “We’ve already asked the Pope to intercede,” adding that, as a Cardinal, the new pontiff had already stated that the islands were Argentine.
Asked about the actions taken to date by the Secretary-General with regard to his good offices mandate, Mr. Timerman said that Mr. Ban had confirmed that the United Kingdom had rejected those good offices.
When asked whether some families in the Malvinas (Falklands) had, in fact, been living on the islands longer than the Timerman family had been in Argentina, the Minister responded with his own question: “How many years should pass for a territory to transition from being part of Argentina to being part of the United Kingdom?” That country should stop criticizing others that had colonized regions through military power as they had done the very same in the South Atlantic, he emphasized.
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