In a strong speech claiming sovereignty over the Falklands/Malvinas issue addressing the UN Decolonization Committee, Argentine president Cristina Fernandez called on the UK “to leave this history of colonialism behind and start building a new history based on dialogue” but at the same time blasted the recent announcement of a referendum in the Islands do decide on their political status.
“We are not asking them to acknowledge that the Malvinas Islands belong to Argentina. We are only asking that we sit down and talk. Can anyone in this time refuse to engage in dialogue?” asked the Argentine leader in a rare appearance before one of many UN committees normally covered by mid ranking diplomats.
The Argentine leader began her speech insisting “it was the dictatorship who decided to unilaterally begin the Malvinas War without asking Argentines for their opinion” and added that she did not stand there alone, since she had the support of most Argentine political parties with congressional representation, some of which “strongly oppose my Government, but even so they believe that colonialism and the defence of sovereignty supersedes that”.
The speech on Thursday June 14 coincided with the thirtieth anniversary of the end of the Malvinas war triggered by the invasion and occupation of the Falklands by Argentine forces in April 1982, which were ousted by a Task Force sent by then PM Margaret Thatcher.
“I’m here to ask for the humanitarian right. Our country is a human rights champion. Few nations have the kind of immigration freedom that we have. Few nations open their doors to citizens from all over the world like we do” she stated.
The president also reminded the committee that she had been joined by “war veterans and mothers war veterans who still haven’t been able to recover the remains of their sons and daughters.”
Cristina Fernandez then condemned the referendum that the Falklands have planned in order to determine whether the population wishes to remain British or become Argentine, and asked “when it comes to conducting a referendum, why don’t we have one in Afghanistan or Iraq and see what the people think about what they are doing there?”
She also blasted the flying of the Falklands flag; “When I saw the waving flag of the so-called ‘Falkland Islands’ I was ashamed, because wars are never cause for celebration or commemoration” she sated.
However her most heavy fire was against the UN Security Council, because the UK as a member can ignore compliance with dozens of UN and C24 resolutions and she underlined there are two categories of UN membership, whether you belong or not to the Security Council.
The UK is benefiting from its privileged position as a permanent member of the security council of the United Nations, she said.
Cristina Fernandez said that the UK/Argentina dispute over the Falklands is not a “bilateral issue”, but multilateral and does not only involve Argentina and the region “but has become a global issue” and challenged “how can the UK call the Malvinas British territory when it is 14.000 kilometres away from London?”
In support of Argentina’s claim Cristina Fernandez revealed that in the early seventies there had been secret negotiations with the UK, on London’s initiative, to share the Falklands as a co-dominion with the two flags, Spanish and English as the two official languages and alternate governors named every two years by the Queen and the Argentine president.
“The ‘non paper’ from the Foreign Office had five points for discussion” and was presented to the surprise of then President Juan Peron in May 1974, However “unfortunately President Peron died in July”, negotiations then collapsed and as the “Foreign Office had forecasted this was followed in Argentina by a military coup”.
“This means the UK admitted there was a sovereignty dispute and they were willing to discuss the issue and that is why we are requesting a resumption of the interrupted negotiations”, said the Argentine president.
Before Cristina Fernandez two petitioners, Alejandro Betts (born and bred in the Falklands but who left after the war to marry an Argentine girl) who lives in Cordoba and Marcelo Luis Vernet, a writer and direct descendent from whom Argentina identify as their first Governor of the Malvinas and allegedly was ousted by the British in 1833, made brief statements before the C24.
Contrary to what happened with the Falklands petitioners who spoke for the Falklands, lawmakers Roger Edwards and Mike Summers, the two Argentines received a warm clapping but with Cristina Fernandez it was a several minutes resounding applause and even congratulations from the chair of the C24 committee.
It must be said that Cristina Fernandez showed up for the speech with a numerous delegation of lawmakers, ministers, governors, mayors and Malvinas veterans’ organizations representatives, over 90 delegates, that turned the C24 presentation in a political rally of the clapping kind the president likes to organize back in Argentina.
Before speaking before the Committee, the President met with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.