Representatives from 21 African and South American countries are debating in Uruguay the consolidation of the South Atlantic as a zone free of massive destruction arms and its “improper militarization”, as a result of the growing tension between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
“There is concern over an inappropriate militarization” of the South Atlantic said the Brazilian Foreign minister Antonio Patriora during a brief exchange with the press.
“There are decolonization issues which have yet to reach a definitive solution”.
Patriota said that South Atlantic countries have to consolidate “the image of a zone free of massive destruction arms”.
Likewise Argentina’s Deputy Foreign minister Eduardo Antonio Zuain said the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation zone was debating his country’s concern over the increase of the military presence in the Malvinas.
This week Defence Minister Andrew Robathan said that Britain was well prepared to defend the Falklands with four Typhoon fighter aircraft, an infantry company, a couple of patrol vessels plus submarines on global patrol.
He added that if needed an extra Typhoon, a Royal Navy vessel and more troops could be sent to the South Atlantic in anticipation of any outside interference or ‘stunt’ during the referendum on the Falklands’ status and future scheduled for next March 10/11.
Patriota anticipated that the Malvinas issue would be specifically included in the final declaration to be made public by the 21 representatives on Wednesday and that Ghana despite the recent dispute with Argentina over the frigate ARA Libertad will adhere to the motion.
During 78 days the flagship of the Argentine Navy was retained impounded in Tema, on orders from Ghanaian court acting on request from a New York ruling favouring the hedge fund NML Capital which is demanding payment of Argentine defaulted bonds.
The Ghana government said it could not intervene because it was a judicial issue and the dispute finally ended at the UN Law of the Sea tribunal in Hamburg that ordered the release of ARA LIbertad.
Uruguay’s Foreign minister Luis Almagro underlined the challenge for the region “when the developed world is in the midst of an unprecedented economic and financial crisis”.
“Without peace it is impossible to ensure the economic, social and cultural development of our societies” added Almagro who established a difference with the North Atlantic: “they have their defence mechanisms and alliances: in the South Atlantic our dynamics should be development and trade”.
The VII Ministerial meeting of the South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone created in 1986 following a UN General Assembly resolution, on the occasion has convened delegations from 21 of its 24 members, and of which three are South American and the rest Africans.
Born as an initiative to promote peace and cooperation in the area and as part as a process to revalue South-South cooperation, it has only held so far six ministerial meetings, the last of which in Angola in 2007.
For the Montevideo meeting for the first time Defence ministers were also invited. The gathering includes representatives from Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay and from Africa, Angola, Benin, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Congo, Ivory Coast, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Namibia, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, South Africa and Togo. Members that missed Montevideo are Guinea Bissau, Saint Tomé and Sierra Leone.