Foreign Office minister for Latin American affairs Jeremy Browne anticipated that next week there will be a “substantial reply” to Argentina’s proposal for three monthly flights between Buenos Aires and the Falklands and the resumption of negotiations over fisheries conservation in the South Atlantic, but in noy way linked to any sovereignty discussions.
Browne also said that President Cristina Fernandez’s presentation before the UN Decolonization Committee will “not change” the UK position regarding the sovereignty dispute with Argentina, and denied point blank that UK had received any request from the Red Cross to make DNA tests to help identify combatant whose remains are buried in unknown graves in the Darwin cemetery in the Falklands.
“I know that Argentina has given to understand that we are denying giving course to a request from the Red Cross. But that is not true. We have received no request. If this happens we are willing to address it positively”, said Minister Browne.
The statements were made during a press conference in London before Browne’s departure for the Falklands to the commemoration of the 30ths anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict this week, June 14, which is celebrated in the Falklands as Liberation Day, when the Argentine troops surrendered unconditionally to the Task Force ending the 74 day war.
Browne is the first Foreign Office minister to visit the Falklands since 2008, and the June 14 ceremony takes place on the same day that Cristina Fernandez is scheduled to address the C24 decolonization committee in New York.
“Most probably it’s not a coincidence, but rather the workings of certain members of the C24, a committee which is frankly anachronic and with no repercussions”, claimed Browne who downplayed any significance.
“It’s the legacy of a time when there was a program to decolonize all over the world and which has been vastly completed. Furthermore the UK does not consider the Falklands a colony”, pointed out the FCO minister.
Asked specifically on the contrast between events in New York and the Falklands, which could be interpreted as the UK is only interested in celebrating war victories (in the Islands) instead of the challenges of the future (at the UN), Browne gave a solid reply.
“We didn’t choose June 14 for the C24 meeting. And the truth is we don’t take advantage of it to make big propaganda ploys. What the committee does is bring together a group of countries that share the same anti-colonialist narrative to reaffirm every year the same position”, added the minister.
“There won’t be any news this year. The UK position on the South Atlantic on June 15th is going to be exactly the same as today. Nothing is going to change”. And regarding the Argentine president incursion at the C24 meeting, the first head of state to do so, “we are not particularly surprised”.
“It is coherent with the normal conduct on the issue, which consists in looking for platforms and opportunities to make strident noisy statements on the Argentine position. But she can go to all the committees she likes, that’s the privilege of being president” said ironically Browne.