Foreign minister Susana Malcorra addressing Argentine Senators described the UK/Argentina statement as very positive since UK accepts to dialogue on all South Atlantic issues, without exclusions, with shared responsibility in eliminating obstacles to the region's development and in this new positive spirit eventually discuss Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty.
The UK in the joint statement accepts the reference to the sovereignty question, which is in dispute, underlined the Argentine minister.
Malcorra was summoned to the Senate foreign affairs committee on Wednesday to talk about the joint statement and the South Atlantic chapter, although the much publicized event was overshadowed by the announcement at mid morning that Antonio Guterres from Portugal, is expected to be confirmed as next UN Secretary General frustrating the Argentine minister's bid to the post.
This issue precisely came up in a rough exchange with opposition Senators who accused Malcorra of taking advantage of her ministerial condition and merchandizing the Malvinas issue in her campaign to collect the sufficient votes from the UN Security Council to ensure her ambition, and for the first time a gender change in the UN chair.
What you have said affects me personally, that you should consider I am merchandizing the Malvinas is totally unfair and is something which I do not deserve as foreign minister and as a person, Malcorra replied to Tierra del Fuego Senator Julio Catalan Magni, who belongs to Cristina Fernandez political grouping.
Senator Catalan Magni said that Malvinas was not a test issue, and it was not very decent to push for a compromise with the UK while campaigning for the UN Secretary General post.
The government's decision to support my candidacy was in the framework of the government's priorities, but I kept to all my responsibilities as minister underlined Malcorra.
Another opposition Senator, Ruperto Godoy, deputy chair of the committee also referred to Malcorra's candidacy and criticized all the back and forth steps from the Macri administration in the Malvinas issue.
The minister rejected point blank the claims and insisted that the joint statement was not an agreement, and strongly defended the road map sealed with British foreign office minister Alan Duncan which will help Argentina advance in a bilateral dialogue, while preserving sovereignty rights over the South Atlantic Islands.
Malcorra also rejected that the current global policy with UK, outlined in the joint statement, can be compared to the seduction policy of ex president Carlos Menem's government as was pointed out by some senators.
I don't believe in the seduction policy. Diplomacy is sitting face to face taking into account the country's interest to try and find diagonals that help find solutions, replied the minister.
The fact is we have generated a wide dialogue space with the UK, which is very positive, and the first time in many years it was stamped in a joint statement, and in a language which refers to the sovereignty clause over the Falklands/Malvinas and other Argentine interests in the South Atlantic.
Likewise Malcorra argued that there are different ways to approach the Malvinas question, and we can agree or disagree in the path to follow but under no circumstances are we yielding in the sovereignty principle over the Islands, as was clearly exposed in the Decolonization Committee, C24. But said this, we are convinced that instead of the confrontation policy of recent years, it is worth while opening a dialogue space to find ways to approach the issue and eventually to facilitate a solution to the bottom question.
More specifically Malcorra again underlined that the statement emphasizes the benefits of cooperation and a joint commitment, but also warned that the issue is highly sensitive for Argentines, and should not be bastardized by appealing to those sentiments, for whatever reason.
Let's recall that the military junta in 1982 appealed to that very sentiment to attempt to survive politically, said the minister.
Malcorra then revealed some of the discussions previous to the statement, which she insisted is based on co-responsibility it's not for us Argentina, to remove obstacles in the Islands but rather both sides recognize that there are obstacles to be removed.
Malcorra said the original idea was for a statement with reference to the business and investment agenda, but we felt that meant leaving out the Malvinas question so we insisted in including all issues referred to the Malvinas and South Atlantic. She added that Malvinas is an unpronounceable objective of the Argentine government and now we are looking how we can make effective an advance towards that dialogue.
The minister finally said that the joint statement includes a first intention to advance towards a discussion on the issue and any accord linked to hydrocarbons or fisheries will be dealt by Congress.However a solution to the sovereignty dispute will not be immediate but that is how things are. For us sovereignty is not an issue that involves the inhabitants of the Islands, since it is territorial. But we must recognize the way of life of the those inhabitants.