Spain will not be involved in ‘joint actions’ with Argentina regarding sovereignty claims over Gibraltar and Malvinas, said on Friday Spanish Foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, arguing there had been ‘misinterpretations’ in the Argentine version of the bilateral ministerial meeting and which was first denied by the Moncla Palace.
On Thursday following the meeting of Garcia Margallo with Hector Timerman the Argentine foreign ministry in an official release said that the two officials had agreed “to joint actions calling on the UK to dialogue and comply with UN mandates”.
However late that evening the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, seat of the government, denied ‘such version’ of what was discussed in the ministers’ meeting in the sidelines of the UN General Assembly and underlined that the UK is ‘a good friend of Spain’.
On Friday Garcia-Margallo in a press conference at the UN before returning to Spain insisted with the ‘misinterpretations’. He admitted having met with Timerman and having addressed the respective claims regarding Gibraltar and Malvinas and both confirmed that the two are non autonomous territories in the UN de-colonization list in which “prevails the principle of territorial integrity of states over the self determination of the its inhabitants”, and which must be resolved in direct bilateral negotiations with the UK for each case.
“So far the coincidences; but that does not imply “there is coincidence in the means that each of the governments adopt to reaffirm their sovereignty claim, or that any of the two automatically supports the measures adopted by the other”, insisted the Spanish minister.
Spain will support, and it’s nothing new said Garcia Margallo the declaration on Malvinas that Argentina will present at the coming Ibero-American summit next October in Panama, “as long as it abides” to the above mentioned principles and expects Argentina to do the same if Spain takes the contentious case of Gibraltar to international forums. In other words there is no common or shared strategy with Argentina.
The prestigious daily El Pais underlines that the decision from Garcia Margallo taking distance from the Malvinas case, or the Moncloa palace almost immediate denial of the existence of a joint strategy has a simple explanation: Spain and the UK are partners in the EU and allies in NATO, while Argentina tried to recover the Malvinas Islands by force in 1982.
Garcia Margallo did consider coordinating strategies at the UN with Argentina (currently a non permanent member of the Security Council), but that option will only be activated if the current efforts to resume negotiations on fisheries and environment through the so called work-groups, finally fail. But that moment has not been reached.
El Pais recalls some of the recent events when the Spanish government escalated the dispute, “break-time is over” and anticipated a raft of measures, claims in different fronts and different organizations. In the barrage of news in the Spanish press it was inferred that Garcia Margallo was considering a possible alliance with Argentina to jointly address their claims before the UN, and such policy could begin to implemented when the Spanish minister visited Buenos Aires for the 2020 Olympic seat nomination, which Madrid lost and was awarded to Tokyo.
The information triggered a quick reaction from the Foreign Office which sent Minister of State Alistair Burt on a Sunday to the ITV channel to make a statement arguing that Spain was “a great ally of UK” although at the same time making an unequivocal defence of Gibraltar and the people’s rights. “But at the end of the interview Burt dropped a phrase with the strongest message: you always judge friends by their companies”. The reference to Argentina was evident.
From then onwards and despite some moves and claims from the Foreign Office, in the realm of the EU, Spain did not refer again to a possible coalition with Argentina. The issue seemed closed, until the Timerman incident in New York.
Wise words from a Gibraltar government spokesperson: “when it comes to British public opinion, the Gibraltar case is not comparable to the Falklands/Malvinas. There was a recent war (1982) and British soldiers died. This is still fresh in the collective mind. If Spain wants or wanted to really upset the British government it only has to mention the Falklands/Malvinas case”.
“The reference to a possible alliance really surprised us, particularly since Argentina and Spain don’t seem to be going through a very good moment following what happened with the seizure of a majority stake in YPF, concluded the Gibraltar official.