Foreign Office insists Argentina was informed in advance Falklands’ MLAs would attend Hague/Timerman meeting
The last round of the Falklands’ dispute between the UK and Argentina seems to have exposed a new blunder of Minister Hector Timerman, since according to the Foreign Office from the very request last December for a meeting with Foreign Secretary William Hague this month in London, the Argentine official was clearly informed that Falklands’ representatives would be present when the particular issue of the Islands was raised.
In effect on Friday a spokesperson for the Foreign Office reiterated that in December, when the Argentine embassy requested a meeting with Hague and Timerman during the Argentine official’s trip to London in February, they had already informed him that Falklands’ representatives would be attending.
“Upon accepting the invitation to have a meeting between ministers of the two countries, we let the Argentine embassy know that the Foreign Secretary wanted to personally put across issues and serious concerns about Argentina’s policy towards the Falklands and the fact that he had invited members of government from the Islands,” the FCO spokesperson said.
Timerman denied this and reacted by saying he was only interested in bilateral talks with Hague, that he regretted the presence of representatives from an ‘imposed colonial population’ during the meeting, that Falklands/Malvinas issue is bilateral and the right to self-determination, “according to the UN” does not apply to ‘implanted colonies’ and finally that the Falklands March referendum is a ‘joke’, since it is like organizing a vote-count by the boss of an estancia.
In a letter to Hague Timerman expressed all these concepts and also warned that Argentina and UK relations could be harmed by the Foreign Office attitude.
“I repeat that it is a pity that you refuse to have a bilateral meeting. Your decision will surely harm the interest of Argentina's work with the United Kingdom at the G20, the United Nations Security Council, issues of nuclear proliferation, trafficking in human beings, drugs, laundering money, investment, trade, human rights, and many others in which both countries are active members of the international community.
Timerman is scheduled to visit London from February 4 to 6 to attend an event organized by the Argentine embassy in London with the participation of 18 European personalities that favour a UK/Argentina dialogue on the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty issue. The event is timed to take place a month before the Falklands’ referendum (March 10/11) on the Islands political status and future, organized by the local government and which has President Cristina Fernandez administration furious.
On Thursday January 31, the Falklands’ government in a surprise announcement said that two members from the Legislative Assembly would be flying to London to meet with Hague and the Argentine minister Timerman. It is obvious that such an initiative from the Islands can only be possible if organized by the Foreign Office.
The release from Stanley said that “the Falkland Islands Government has been advised that the Argentine Foreign Minister will visit London next week, and has requested a meeting with the UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.
“Mr Hague has told the Government of Argentina he would be happy to meet Mr Timerman. At that meeting he would want to raise the UK Government’s serious concerns about Argentina’s policy towards the Falkland Islands.
“He has also made it clear that, for any conversation on Falkland Islands issues, the Falkland Islands Government must be represented.
“Mr Hague has also reiterated to Argentina that there can never be any negotiations over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until the Falkland Islanders so wish. The Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly believes that the result of the forthcoming referendum will demonstrate definitively that we do not. Should the issue of sovereignty be raised at the meeting, it will not be discussed”.
Meantime in Buenos Aires Timerman got involved in a brawl with Clarin and accused the Buenos Aires daily of ‘falsely’ publishing that Argentina was aware that Falklands/Malvinas representatives would be attending the foreign ministers meeting in London, requested by Argentina.
In a release the Minister said that in a letter from Hague, dated 30 January, the Foreign Secretary informed that he had invited Falklands/Malvinas representatives to attend the meeting and “it is my pleasure to inform you they have accepted”.
“Never before the Foreign Office had taken the unilateral decision to include the ‘illegal government’ of the Malvinas Islands” in talks, adds the Timerman release.
It went on to say that on “24 January the Foreign Office sent a letter to Ambassador (in London) Alicia Castro with the following ultimatum for the meeting: “I would be grateful if you can confirm the condition (including Falklands’ MLAs) before 29 January”.
Finally “Argentina reiterates to all Clarin readers that the Malvinas Islands is for the UN a special colonialism issue that must be resolved between the UK and Argentina. Furthermore the UN rejects self determination in this case because it is a population tailored to the measures of the occupying power”.