March 9, 2014
‘Argentina will never succeed’ in Malvinas
A defiant British Prime Minister David Cameron harshly criticized Argentina and staunchly vowed to defend the UK’s position over the Malvinas Islands yesterday.
“The Argentine government will never succeed in any attempt to misrepresent the history of your Islands or question your right to self-determination,” Cameron said in a Christmas message to residents of the disputed territory. “Britain will always be ready to defend the Falkland Islands.”
Cameron’s harsh words came on the same day as President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner signed a decree appointing former senator Daniel Filmus as the head of a new secretariat that will deal with all issues relating to Malvinas and surrounding areas.
Cameron called 2013 a “momentous” year for the Malvinas saying that the residents of the territory voted in favour of remaining a British Overseas Territory. Argentina and its allies have staunchly opposed the validity of the referendum.
“This was a question of self-determination — and you could not have sent a clearer message: the Falkland Islands are British through and through,” Cameron said. “And that is how you want them to stay.”
The results of that vote means that “as we look to 2014, you can count on the British government’s continued support in countering the Argentine government’s campaign to claim the islands’ resources and to inflict damage on your economy,” the UK prime minister added.
Specifically, Cameron made a reference to a law that was recently approved by the Argentine Congress that would impose criminal sanctions for “illegal exploration” of hydrocarbons in the Argentine continental shelf, including 15-year jail sentences.
The Argentine efforts to damage the economy of the Malvinas “has involved shameful attempts to discourage hydrocarbons exploration in your waters,” Cameron said. “My message on this is clear: you have every right to explore your natural resources. The Argentine government’s attempts to deter you from doing so will not succeed.”
Cameron also paid tribute to the late UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who died in April. “I know she will hold a special place in many of your hearts,” Cameron said. “Her contribution to the security and future of these islands will never be forgotten.”
Filmus takes charge
As leader of the newly created Secretariat of Affairs Related to Malvinas Islands, Georgias del Sur and Sandwich del Sur and the South Atlantic surrounding waters, Filmus will be charged with implementing strategies to “better defend the rights and interests of Argentina in the Malvinas question,” according to the Foreign Ministry.
The new secretariat will coordinate “pertinent actions in the multilateral sphere,” added the ministry.
The decision to create a secretariat to encompass all these issues “is a reaffirmation of the profound commitment” the government has with a cause “that is not just Argentine, but of all countries that fight for the end of colonialism and the respect of the territorial integrity of independent nations.”
Filmus knows the Malvinas issue well. As a senator, he led the Foreign Relations Committee and has worked hand-in-hand with Fernández de Kirchner “to pursue a strategy to recover the islands in a peaceful manner,” added the Foreign Ministry.
The latest move comes in a week that began with the UK accusing Argentina of “bullying tacticts” over what it said were baseless attempts by Buenos Aires to outlaw oil and gas drilling in the waters around the Malvinas.
“This is a baseless gesture intended to deter legitimate commercial activity,” the British Foreign Office said in a statement issued Monday, adding that Britain had formally protested to Buenos Aires. “It is shameful that Argentina is once again adopting bullying tactics in an attempt to strangle the Falkland Islands economy.”
Then on Tuesday, Mark Simmonds, a British Foreign Office minister, accused Argentina of talking up the sovereignty dispute to distract voters from domestic economic problems before an election in 2015.
As a response Argentina summoned Britain’s ambassador in Buenos Aires and said that the recently approved hydrocarbons law was based on “legitimate rights to sovereignty.”