Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant said that UK and Argentina agree there is “no return to the eighties” regarding the Falkland Islands which he underlined are British as long as the Islanders so wish.
In an interview with the Mexican daily Excelsior, Bryant also revealed he has had talks with Argentina’s Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana and relations with Buenos Aires, with the exception of the Falklands/Malvinas issue are very good and strong.
In perfect Spanish he also recommended Latinamerican countries to “open up” and stop blaming the US and Europe for all their problems. “Let’s face it, the anti Yank spirit does not help lift the poor or build hospitals”.
“We won the (1982) conflict and have had problems with Argentina for the last thirty years over the Falklands’ sovereignty, but as a country and as democrats we believe in self determination, and if the people of the Islands want to remain British, that is their choice and we will always support them”, said Bryant who insisted that “we have no doubts as to whom the Falklands belong”. Besides in the European Union Lisbon Treaty “it is clearly spelled out that the Falklands belong to Britain”.
He added that trade relations with Argentina remain very strong and good and both countries are working closely in many world affairs and challenges. “PM Gordon Brown and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner work very closely in the G20 framework, UK and Argentina are strong allies; we only have this little problem over the Falklands”.
Bryant pointed out that contrary to media frondose coverage “there’s no return to the eighties. I was told so by Argentine politicians; Mrs. Kichner never said she’s planning to block the Falklands, so the situation is much calmer than what your read. The Falklands as such don’t belong to us but the people democratically want to be British and we respect and support that”.
The Foreign Office minister revealed he has a fluid dialogue with the Argentines: “I met and talked with Jorge Taiana during the inauguration of President Piñera in Chile. We have an active ambassador in Buenos Aires in regular contact; they have a consular officer in London; we are all the time in contact”.
When asked about the recent Latinamerican and Caribbean leaders’ summit with strong support for Argentina, Bryant said “it’s normal. Since we have no doubts about the Falklands we don’t need any lobbying. Besides this year is the independence bicentennial of several of the region’s countries and the British helped with that struggle. For the last 200 years we have had very close links with many Latinamerican countries (Chile, Brazil) among others; we are working with Colombia and Venezuela in drugs control…”
Bryant recalled he spent six months in Buenos Aires in 1986, “I loved the city and love the Argentine spirit. I know all of (folklorist) Mercedes Sosa’ songs and play them in the guitar”. That was four years after the war, “so I understand very well when my Argentine colleagues say no return to the eighties”.
Finally FCO Minister Bryant was asked about Latinamerica and the future.
“In my personal opinion one of the main problems in Latinamerica for the last fifty years has been that they blame their problems on the US and Europe. I’d say the anti-Yank spirit is useless: it doesn’t help to lift the poor or build hospitals. Latinamerica has to open to the world, economically, politically, socially. You have to look inside to solve your own problems, not criticizing the US or Europe”.
However he added that countries such as Mexico and Brazil have very strong and solid economies and will grow sustainedly. “Their importance and influence in world affairs is going to increase, but I still feel there’s in Latinamerica an anti Yank stance which is totally distractive and non helpful”.