An Argentine columnist has found two great virtues: audacity and tolerance in Foreign Minister Hector Timerman current incursion in London to lobby and argue in favour of the most intransigent of Argentina’s position on the Falklands’ dispute.
“We must acknowledge Timerman audacity to travel to London and display in public the most hard-line position of Argentina in the Malvinas dispute”, writes Martin Rodriguez Yebra in La Nacion.
But he also admits and has praise for British tolerance.
“Can anybody imagine what would happen if PM David Cameron or any of his Secretaries (Foreign Secretary William Hague) came to Buenos Aires to argue publicly in favour of some of his ‘sabre-rattling’ statements on the need to fill the South Atlantic with arms?”, asks the Argentine columnist.
In the column under the heading of “A game in which only Britain wins”, Rodriguez Yebra argues that Timerman returns to Argentina with not much of a diplomatic advance in the Falkland Islands dispute, but yes for the government of President Cristina Fernandez facing non-sweet moments and for which playing the Malvinas nationalistic chord is a common resource for deteriorating regimes.
Telling UK in London that within 20 years the Falklands will be flying the Argentine flag, calling them ‘colonialists’, arguing that “not one country” supports UK’s position and that the country is going through a deep economic crisis and is isolating itself from the world, is only but a further step to ensure that negotiating the disputed Islands sovereignty becomes impossible.
And in the exchange of intransigent speeches and statements, Britain always wins, since the objective of London is for all to remain unchanged, says Rodriguez Yabra.
According to the columnist Timerman mission had two main objectives: display in rival territory the strong international support for the Argentine position in the dispute.
The other more relevant to weaken the effect of the ‘curious’ referendum scheduled for March when the ‘British inhabitants from Malvinas will vote…if they want to continue to be British”
But so far Argentina, leaving aside ‘lip-service’, has not managed to increase diplomatic support for the Malvinas cause, maybe except in Latinamerica and some emerging countries. The US remains “neutral” (but with a tacit support of Britain’s position) and Europe never questioned (and even supported with EC legislation and aid) UK sovereignty over the Islands.
Furthermore the recent turn in Argentine diplomacy reaching an understanding with Iran on the investigation into a 1994 attack of a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires comes as a surprise: it is a regime sanctioned by the main developed countries, and this can hardly help to make friends on the Malvinas issue.
However Casa Rosada is satisfied with the display the UK media has given to Timerman trip and interview-space to criticize UK policy. The impact was greater because he took the discussion to Parliament even when he denied self determination and insisted Argentina will continue to ignore the people of the Falklands and the March referendum, which also generated reaction among MPs.
To ease tensions after calling MPs ‘colonialists’, Timerman thanked Britain for its sacrifice during World War II and tried to force the idea that sovereignty dialogue “is possible and necessary’. And on leaving Westminster he made it a point of displaying to photographers the V for victory with his fingers.
But it is a game of two and the British government downplayed the Timerman mission by saying that when Foreign Secretary William Hague meets him, when addressing Falklands’ issues political representatives from the Islands should be present.
Argentina could never accept such a condition. With the exception of Menem and Di Tella’s years any negotiations on Malvinas can only be bilateral. So dialogue with the UK Government was impossible.
Finally even if the Malvinas issue returns empty handed, there are more imminent and palpable results: this will help President Cristina to revive again the Malvinas nationalistic reflex, a tactic that has always fascinated Argentine governments in moments of bad news and distress.
So given the imminence of the Falklands referendum that has Cristina Fernandez government nervous, “more incidents and episodes of this kind can be expected in the coming weeks”, forecasts Rodriguez Yabra.
For PM Cameron, even when the conflict has less impact in his domestic agenda, he can nevertheless enjoy the effects of the efficient propaganda machinery that represents reaffirming the diplomatic, political and military defence of the Falklands.
Thus the need to acknowledge Timerman’s audacity to display in London the least negotiable case of Argentina’s Malvinas claims. But at the same time British tolerance: can anybody imagine PM Cameron or cabinet members publicly displaying UK’s Falklands’ case in Buenos Aries?