Uruguayan merchant and naval shipping is under continuous harassment from the Argentine Navy in South Atlantic international waters, a new chapter of the difficult relations between the neighbouring countries, reports Montevideo’s main daily El Pais, quoting undisclosed Parliament sources.
Last week Uruguay and Argentina’s Foreign Affairs ministers, Luis Almagro and Hector Timerman met in Montevideo to address a full agenda of bilateral issues, and “this was one of the points brought up by Uruguay”.
The Uruguayan government later informed members of the opposition from the Defence committee on the results of the ministerial meeting and of several incidents in South Atlantic international waters involving Uruguayan and Argentine vessels.
With no records of what was discussed at the committee, on request from Defence Minister Luis Rosadilla, giving the seriousness of the situation, the minister said that the administration of President Jose Mujica considers these incidents as “harassment situations” towards Uruguayan vessels, particularly since most interception operations take place ‘in international waters outside of Argentine jurisdiction’.
“These naval actions have been occurring during the last two to three weeks in the form of ‘interferences’ to shipping that constitute a ‘bullying’ attitude, which for the Uruguayan government do not correspond to international waters”, according to Rosadilla.
Apparently Uruguayan naval intelligence is working on the issue following reports from naval vessels that were intercepted or told to re-route when crossing South Atlantic international waters, according to parliamentary sources.
The warning messages from the Argentine Navy call on vessels to abandon their route arguing they are crossing waters of exclusive Argentine jurisdiction, when ‘according to international charts they are waters open to all shipping’, said Rosadilla.