May 24, 2013
UK repudiates ambassador Castro's behaviour, calls it 'disappointing'
The United Kingdom ratified today its refusal to start any negotiation over the sovereignty of the Malvinas Islands, and considered “disappointing” the episode occurred on Monday between Argentine ambassador to London Alicia Castro and British Foreign Secretary William Hague.
A Foreign Office spokesman told international news agency ANSA that Castro’s intervention of last Monday during the launch of Britain's annual world review of human rights in London was “disappointing”, and reiterated that Great Britain “will not negotiate the islands’ sovereignty until the islanders decide to do so.”
Likewise, the spokesman indicated that “there’s nothing new to be said. Islanders have the right of self determination; they have the right to decide their own future and not the Argentines.”
On Monday, Argentina's new ambassador to London put UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague in an awkward situation over the Malvinas Islands after asking him at a public meeting whether he was ready to “give peace a chance” by opening talks on the islands' future.
Alicia Castro, formerly Argentina's ambassador to Venezuela, took up her post in London in March, just as tensions escalated between Argentina and Britain 30 years after they went to war over the South Atlantic islands.
Castro's appointment to a post left vacant since 2008 is part of a drive by Buenos Aires to push the Malvinas issue back up the international agenda.
The Argentine diplomat tackled the Foreign Secretary on the subject as he launched Britain's annual world review of human rights at a ceremony attended by diplomats, journalists and rights activists in the opulent surroundings of Lancaster House in London.
“Seeing that the United Nations and the international community and a large group of Nobel Prize winners urge both countries to (start) negotiations in order to find a pacific and permanent resolution, my question is: Are you ready for dialogue? Are we going to give peace a chance?" she asked as Hague took questions from the audience.
A flustered Hague, sensing that Castro was about to make a long statement, interrupted her several times, pressing her to ask a question before cutting her short with: “Thank you. That's enough. Stop.”
President Cristina Kirchner has launched a wide-ranging diplomatic offensive to assert Argentina's claims to the islands, accusing Britain of maintaining “colonial enclaves” and calling on London to open sovereignty talks.
Britain says it will agree to talks only if the 3,000 islanders want them – something they show no sign of doing.
Answering Castro, Hague said: “Self-determination is a basic political right of the people of the Islands ... You can count on us always, permanently, to stand by that right.”
In the run-up to this year's 30th anniversary of the war, Argentina has protested to the United Nations over British “militarization” of the South Atlantic and has threatened to sue companies involved in oil exploration off the islands.
Castro later said Mr Hague had not answered her question. “You cannot say that you are so good at human rights and democracy if you are not open for dialogue.”
Self-determination did not apply to the islanders, she said. “Self-determination is not a right that every country has or every population has. A province in my country cannot decide if they want to belong to China.”
Asked if she intended to make a habit of appearing at Hague's public events to ask him about the Malvinas, Castro laughed and said: “You wait and see.”
Castro had met a junior British foreign minister, Jeremy Browne, last week and handed over notes requesting talks with Britain on air links with the Malvinas and South Atlantic fisheries.
Britain maintains that the islands are self-governing and that Argentina must talk to the islanders about such matters.