Foreign affairs committeeFriday, April 4, 2014
UK Parliament blasts US for lukewarm support on Malvinas
The UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee harshly criticized the United States yesterday for pursuing what it described as a neutral policy regarding British claims of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.
Only a day after President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner — on the anniversary of the South Atlantic War — accused Britain of using the islands as a NATO nuclear base, the UK lawmakers said that the US position has been “uncomfortable... not what we wanted,” said former UK ambassador to the US, Nigel Sheinwald.
In the context of the Malvinas becoming an increasing source of tension between the UK and Argentina, the Obama administration has only recognized the “UK’s de facto administration of the Falkland Islands but takes no position on what it sees as the competing sovereignty claims over the Islands,” the commitee noted, with another sour point being that the US government has continued to state it will support negotiations between the UK and Argentina to resolve the issue.
The UK has long insisted it will not sit down to discuss anything with Argentina without the presence of the islands dwellers.
The UK parliamentary committee expressed its annoyance about what it perceives to be a double standard that the United States applies to its relation with its ally, since the UK allows the US to use two other UK Overseas Territories — Ascension Island and Diego García — as military bases.
Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman has often used the same example of Diego García to demonstrate how the UK unlawfully displaced its inhabitants so the US could build a naval base on the island in the 1960s. However, this argument has been ignored by the British government when raised in the past.
Despite the criticism of US policy, the UK yesterday seemed to be resigned to the US stance, saying that Washington holds a special position in the Western hemisphere and the Malvinas is only one part of the international relations that unites the two long-time allies.
Still, conflcit over the Malvinas shows why London needs to start changing its relationship with Washington when it comes to foreign policy, according to the committee.
“The UK Government should adopt a more hard-headed, less deferential attitude to the US, based on UK national interests,” noted the report, while admitting that the US’ superpower role leads it “to stay close to the development of US policy and work to exert influence in the US to win US support for UK international objectives.”
Since Prime Minister David Cameron came to power, the UK has taken a more pro-active stance in lobbying countries to support British claims over the Malvinas, an Argentine Foreign Ministry official told the Herald.
Canada is one of the countries that the UK has apparently won over, as in the last few years it has stopped voting in favour of OAS resolutions that request the UK negotiate with Argentina over the Malvinas — the US, on the other hand, has continued.