Monday, May 2nd 2005 - 21:00 UTC

Malvinas in EU Constitution, “unfortunately affect us”

Argentine Defence minister Jose Pampuro said Monday that Argentina “has growing international support” for its Falkland Islands sovereignty claim although admitting that the fact that the archipelago has been included as a British Overseas Territory in the European Constitutional Treaty, “unfortunately affects us”.

However Mr. Pampuro pointed out that the Falklands' issue must be addressed in the diplomatic field even when "it's not an easy issue" since it's it involves form, strategy and political decision by the government.

Mr. Pampuro remarks followed a ceremony in the cenotaph of Liberty Building during the commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of the sinking of the cruiser Belgrano during the Falklands's conflict in 1982.

"Argentine sovereignty over the Islands is supported by many historical facts that confirm it", underlined Mr. Pampuro.

Argentina last week formally complained to the European Union over the inclusion of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas as a British Overseas Territory in the EU Constitutional Treaty which is currently under a ratification process by the 25 members of the block.

Former president Carlos Menem was also critical of the current Argentine policy towards the Falklands/Malvinas which was synthesized in a line: "Galtieri lost the war and (President) Kirchner is loosing peace".

Mr. Menem in an official statement said that "in spite of the military defeat of 1982 under the responsibility of de facto government presided by General Leopoldo Fortunato Galtieri, Argentina managed to sustain its rights over the Islas Malvinas in the diplomatic field by installing the difference with Great Britain under the so called "sovereignty umbrella", and claiming the specific characteristics of the decolonization process in the archipelago, in which a new population was implanted by the colonial power following the territorial occupation"

The former Argentine president (1989-1999) further argues that during his administration "we advanced in the search for alternatives to make effective the compliance of the United Nations mandate, which calls for a peaceful and negotiated solution of the dispute between the occupying power, United Kingdom, and Argentina. The EU Constitutional Treaty by including Malvinas among the "Overseas Territories" under tutelage of that regional block ignores the Argentine sovereignty claim".

Mr. Menem argues the Kirchner administration reaction, and irritation, towards the EU inclusion of the Islands was too late and "what should makes us feel irritated is the negligence of our authorities who seem to have found out of this diplomatic back step which affects Argentine interests and imperils our sovereignty claim over the Malvinas, from newspapers". "What should really concern us is the growing and vertiginous international isolation to which this government is leading us with its verbally confrontational and factually debilitating manners".

In the end lines of his statement the former Argentine president insists that "the foreign policy of President Kirchner is isolating and debilitating Argentina and seriously harming its interests", and specifically regarding Malvinas, "Galtieri lost the war and Kirchner is loosing peace".

Foreign Minister Rafael Bielsa yesterday defended the government's diplomatic work regarding the inclusion of the disputed Malvinas South Atlantic islands as British territory in the European Constitution from accusations made by former president Carlos Menem that the administration's reaction was "negligent and late."

"That is not exact, it is a lie," said Bielsa about Menem. "I do not want to reply to an old man who, besides, is a former president. I don't want to sound disrespectful," added Bielsa.

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