Argentina warned on Monday that if by Tuesday Ghana does not release the retained Navy frigate ARA Libertad it will file a claim before the UN Law of the Sea International Tribunal in Germany.
The deadline was announced on Monday by Foreign minister Hector Timerman who also pointed out that this would be the first time that a demand from a ‘vulture fund’ turns into a conflict between two sovereign nations.
“All impounds suffered by Argentina so far have been actions from ‘vulture funds’ and not from sovereign nations, and it is clear that the ‘vulture funds’ want to convert their aggressions into litigations between sovereign nations”, said Timmerman next to Defence minister Arturo Puricelli.
The minister said the conflict was triggered by the embargo on Argentine assets from a New York court, requested by the ‘vulture fund’ NML Capital belonging to US financer Paul Singer, and implemented and confirmed by a Ghana court. NML Capital is demanding from Argentina full payment of capital and interests from defaulted sovereign bonds equivalent to approximately 370 million dollars.
“Despite all the efforts and given the reluctance of Ghana to comply with its international obligations and lift the illegitimate embargo on the frigate, and taking into account that both countries are signatories of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Foreign Ministry following precise instructions from President Cristina Fernandez has initiated the arbitration mechanism which is the procedure for the solution to controversy between two sides and which contemplates an instance of cautionary measures before the Law of the Sea International Tribunal in the city of Hamburg”, said Timerman.
Timerman revealed that last 30 October Ghana was notified Argentina’s decision to submit the controversy to the arbitration procedure according to Article 1 from Annex VII of the Convention. Argentina requests from the Convention “to adopt the provisional measure consistent in allowing re-supply conditions and the exit of the Argentine war vessel from the jurisdictional waters”.
“The Government of Ghana has until tomorrow, Tuesday 13 to order this provisional measure and release the vessel. If not, a day later, 14 November the Argentine government will demand this measure before the Tribunal as exposed by Article 290, paragraph 5 from the Convention”.
Minister Puricelli said that at the moment of the press conference the captain of the Argentine flagship was having lunch at the port of Tema with officers from the Ghana navy to try and agree on reestablishment of the provision of power, drinking water and gas to the vessel that were cut off five days ago.
Puricelli confirmed he ordered the 44 member crew to repeal the boarding attempt to take over the vessel by local authorities, by showing their rifles. “It was an evident violation of essential humanitarian rights and at the same time there was a boarding attempt which is in clear violation of the vessel’s sovereignty. That is why I ordered the crew members to show their rifles when the boarding attempt”.
He added that following the frustrated attempt to remove the vessel, ‘contacts’ were established with Defence minister Joseph Henry Smith to request mediation together with the Foreign ministry, so that force actions decisions initiated by Tema port authorities, ceased.
Puricelli said that these contacts and actions from the Argentine Foreign ministry and the ambassador in Ghana helped to restore peace and the diplomatic path, although basic services on Monday morning remained cut off.
Also on Monday the Ghana port authorities presented a “failure to comply” court order to the Ghanaian justice system.