Falklands: Former Argentine senator calls for fresh talks with UK
Guillermo Carmona is the Argentinian Government’s recently appointed secretary for the Malvinas, the name his country gives to the Falklands. As such, he has responsibility for shaping policy in respect of the islands – and during a bullish interview with the Mendoza Post newspaper, he made it clear he was not in the mood for backing down.
Argentina invaded the Falklands on April 2, 1982, prompting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to dispatch a military task force to reclaim them, which it did after a three-month war which claimed almost 1,000 British and Argentinian lives.
Despite the defeat, Buenos Aires has never relinquished its claim, and sitting President Alberto Fernandez has gone so far as to make it a matter of state, pledging to “pursue sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands until we recover the territory, which is currently usurped by the United Kingdom”.
Mr Carmona, whose Government is trying to force the UK to the negotiating table, said: “There were instances of negotiation since 1965, which is when the United Nations passed Resolution 2065, which recognises the sovereignty dispute and frames the Malvinas case as a case of colonialism.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is unlikely to be fazed by Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez
Guillermo Carmona is the Argentinian Government’s recently appointed secretary for the Malvinas
“These negotiations reached their peak during the third government of former president Juan Domingo Peron, when proposals were exchanged.
“There was also an attempt by the military in 1981, but Argentina never gave in on the issue of sovereignty, always posing its exercise as a non-negotiable issue.”
At the time of the conflict, there had been talks of a solution which embraced the concept of shared sovereignty, Mr Carmona conceded.
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Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez
He explained: “The most concrete proposal in this regard came from Peru, and there was also an attempt, more focused on the cessation of hostilities, by the UN Secretary General at the time, Javier Perez de Cuellar.
“Before the war, there were instances in which the recognition of Argentine sovereignty over the islands with joint administration for a certain period of time was raised.”
However, asked about the prospects of such an arrangement in the future, Mr Carmona was unequivocal.
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Margaret Thatcher, the UK’s Prime Minister, dispatched the task force in 1982
Argentina has not renounced its claim on the islands it calls the Malvinas
There is no such possibility because the Argentine National Constitution does not allow it
He said: “There is no such possibility because the Argentine National Constitution does not allow it.”
Turning his attention to Britain’s stance, unlikely to alter under Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Mr Carmona had little sympathy for the 2,800 people who live on the islands.
Referring to the UK Government, he said: “Their position is that as long as the islanders do not agree to the negotiating table, they respect the position of the islanders.
Falkland Islands factfile
“Argentina maintains that the majority of the islanders are British inhabitants, there is no third party that identifies itself as the islanders, therefore our country argues that the supposed opposition of the islanders cannot be used as a pretext, because they are subjects of the United Kingdom and therefore they are the ones who have to comply with international law.”
As for Argentina’s relationship with Britain, he added: “Argentina has diplomatic relations, as with other countries, even though they are marked by this sovereignty dispute.
“That does not mean that there are no economic, commercial and consular relations. And in the talks with the UK, Argentina raises as a central issue the need to resume negotiations and to comply with the resolutions of international law.”
Referring to the 1965 resolution, Mr Carmona insisted it had established ”an obligation to negotiate between Argentina and the United Kingdom”.
Falkland Islands: Located 400 miles from Argentina
He added: “It also recognises that there is a sovereignty dispute and that we are dealing with a case of unresolved colonisation in the decolonisation process that the UN itself is promoting.
“Not complying with UN resolutions has a cost in terms of international reputation and a cost of an economic and commercial nature.
“For example, the fact that relations with the United Kingdom, which could be open and fruitful, are limited by the continuation of this situation, which extends to neighbouring countries that are in solidarity with Argentina.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)