Argentina's Secretary of State for Malvinas Affairs, Daniel Filmus, defended Argentina´s sovereignty rights over the Falkland Islands in a speech he delivered in London condemning UK´s recent decision to increase its military presence in the South Atlantic, outlined the scope of the criminal lawsuit against oil companies 'illegally' operating in Falklands/Malvinas waters and warned of the environmental risks these activities entail.
“The recent statements made by the British Secretary of Defense Michael Fallon are incomprehensible. Argentina does not pose a threat to either the UK or the inhabitants of the Malvinas Islands. The alleged ‘threat’ declared by the British government is an excuse to justify an increase in military spending”, he stated.
In a panel led by the UK´s former Ambassador to Argentina and current President of Canning House, John Hughes, Filmus discussed the legal lawsuit that the Argentine government filed last week against Rockhopper Exploration plc, Premier Oil plc, Falkland Oil And Gas Limited, Noble Energy Inc. and Edison International SpA. The lawsuit also implicated the companies’ directors, managers, administrators and representatives, for having carried out hydrocarbon exploration activities in the Argentine continental shelf without due authorization from the Argentine Energy Secretariat.
“We will apply the full weight of Argentine legislation and international law in order to prevent the resources that belong to 40 million Argentine citizens from being taken away”, the Argentine official stated.
During his speech, Filmus discussed revelations made by Edward Snowden in The Intercept, regarding the UK’s acts of mass espionage against Argentina amidst growing international pressure to resolve the sovereignty dispute.
“We believe that the UK owes us an explanation on this matter”, Filmus stated. “According to these revelations, they are said to have established a system for espionage and to manipulate public opinion with the aim of preventing us from regaining the Malvinas”, added Argentine ambassador in London Alicia Castro also present at Canning House.
Filmus also warned of the environmental risks that hydrocarbon exploitation would entail in an area that is particularly complex on account of certain characteristics, such as being in the South Atlantic without the support of the mainland. “An oil spill in the area would have an impact on the ecosystem that would last for decades”, he stated.
As he concluded his speech, Filmus stated that “only diplomacy, political courage and negotiation can resolve this dispute. Neither weapons nor intelligence operations will help”.
“Argentina and the UK share strong links that can help us rebuild dialogue in order to move towards finding realistic alternatives to solving the dispute”, he underlined.
The Argentine politician gave his speech at Canning House, UK’s main forum of debate and discussion on Latin America, before an audience of over 150 people including UK government officials, Ambassador’s from Latin America and the Caribbean, Defense attaches from over a dozen countries, other members of the diplomatic corps, academics, students and political activists.
The visit to London included a press conference held earlier on Friday with journalists from the UK’s media alongside Ambassador Alicia Castro at the Official Residence of the Argentine Embassy.