Argentina has started a major diplomatic campaign in an attempt to deny success to the Falkland Islands March referendum on its nationals’ political status, fearing the negative international repercussions for its sovereignty claims over the disputed Islands.
The basic thrust, according to reports in the Buenos Aires press will be to display in international forums and in all Argentine diplomatic sees a direct message on the ‘illegitimacy” of the referendum organized by the Falklands’ government and in which the locals will decide whether to remain as a British Overseas Territory, based on their right to self-determination.
Concerned about the international repercussions of the referendum, Foreign minister Hector Timerman has summoned Ambassador Alicia Castro from London to elaborate an ‘anti-referendum’ strategy. The main target: a propaganda campaign in the UK to try and convince British political personalities or outstanding names from attending the Falklands as observers of the March referendum, and thus reaffirming the legitimacy and transparency of the event.
A second effort, again according to the Buenos Aires media, is that Timerman has instructed two top diplomats to make a tour of the Caribbean and Africa to inform of the “legitimate rights” of Argentina over the Malvinas Islands and on the ‘inconvenience’ of sending observers to the referendum. The places chosen for the round of visits intend to target Commonwealth members or those with close links with the UK.
The dissuasive strategy of the Argentine government also includes sending a release which has already reached several Argentine embassies overseas and instructing diplomats to alert the political leaders of those countries on the ‘illegitimacy’ of the referendum.
Argentina has also taken notice of the more active approach of the UK towards Latin America, the most recent the reopening of the embassy in El Salvador with the attendance of Foreign Office minister Hugo Swire.
In his speech Minister Swire said “the Foreign Secretary (William Hague) and I continue to work to increase our engagement with Latin America. We have been away too long and this much-overdue Embassy signals just how serious we are about expanding in the region”.
“The decision to re-open an Embassy in El Salvador was made in May 2011. This followed a shift in UK policy on Latin America, summed up by the Foreign Secretary William Hague’s 2010 Canning House speech where he said that the UK had not devoted enough attention to the region; the countries of the region have a growing role in international affairs”.
Another matter of concern for Argentina diplomacy are the visits of journalists from the Americas and the Caribbean which take back the Falklands’ point of view on the sovereignty dispute as well as the recent round of media contacts and interviews in several Latinamerican countries, US and Canada, by members from the Legislative Assembly.