When dealing with the Malvinas issue, and its people, Argentina must stick to its diplomatic milestones and not feel attracted to push or take advantage of the UK which seems bogged in Brexit, or further isolated by the recent trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union, argues Fernando Petrella, a deputy foreign minister with Guido Di Tella, ex-ambassador before the United Nations and currently head of the Argentine Foreign Service Institute.
In a column recently published in the Buenos Aires media, under the heading of Brexit, Malvinas and the voice of the Islanders, Petrella praises Prime Minister Boris Johnson as knowledgeable of Argentina, history and its priorities but also underlines that UN General Assembly Resolution 2065/65 is the only international document recognized by all members of the United Nations Security Council, which helped initiate a long process of negotiations regarding the Falklands/Malvinas issue, with its ups and downs.
We must not abandon this legal framework which besides has the invaluable support from the four permanent members of the Security Council and the good will of the British. The real challenge for the Argentine diplomacy and society is to propose solutions, in steps, that don't close the doors for a more satisfactory evolution in the future. But also under no circumstances should we be deaf to the voice of other very important actors, the Islanders, with whom we share this remote geography in the South Atlantic. This is clearly what is established in Resolution 2965/65 and the UN chart when looked at with XXIst century eyes. And remembering that Argentina is a country which chaired the G20 leaders' summit, is a partner of the European Union and is to become a full member of OECD, points out the Argentine diplomat.
Petrella arrives to this conclusion mentioning that UK/Argentina relations historically have been intense and cordial despite the Falklands/Malvinas dispute. And this relation has intensified positively with the attitude of the current Argentine administration of president Mauricio Macri. UK has responded with the same attitude and constructive spirit to this change of focus, towards an Argentina full of resources but clearly with a western outlook to global affairs, and in open contrast to previous years.
This was testified with former PM Theresa May's letter to Macri in August 2016, later confirmed by the Foradori/Duncan communiqué of that year which included a chapter on the South Atlantic, hydrocarbons, communications, and the identification of the remains of Argentine combatants buried in the Falklands, and only known to God.
This was achieved with the coordinated efforts of both governments, through their respective embassies, the Argentine private sector and the respectful willingness of the Islanders.
Petrela then enumerates a raft of international events, which he says could be interpreted of interest for the Malvinas issue. He starts by mentioning the decision by the International Court of Justice referred to the Chagos people, but brushes it aside, underlining that the milestone for Argentina is Resolution 2065/65, the all powerful tool, recognized by all countries including the UK.
The Argentine diplomat mentions as a second element the nomination of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, very relevant. As foreign secretary Johnson visited Argentina in 2018 and gave evidence of deep knowledge of Argentina's problems, the bilateral relation with the UK, coincidences and differences. Despite this soft tail wind and the positive attitude from veterans on both sides, any action requires prudence, much care and professionalism.
Finally, Brexit. So significant for the UK, Europe and the global equilibrium, and so hard to predict its consequences. But to believe that Brexit will weaken the British to the point that they could accept a claudicated scenario regarding the Malvinas, is to ignore how that country solved its colonial problems, how it stands in the world and how it overcame major challenges and the greatest of threats. Pushing the Foreign Office and the Islanders at this moment would be yet another unnecessary error, emphasized Petrella.
Intelligent diplomacy, based on history, shows that at critical moments for the counterpart what is really convenient is a strategy of proximity and never confrontation. Countries tend to harden their positions when they feel hounded and not the contrary. So forget about making things more difficult to the UK, besides Brexit, believing this could help with the Malvinas issue.
Likewise Argentina must not take pleasure over the understandable concerns of the Islanders caused by Brexit. They are our neighbors and will always be because of geography. And recall that Islanders are also main actors, as long as the UK so considers them and so it is stamped in resolution 2065/65. Besides Argentina together with the Islanders must modify the unilateral situations created for so long because of the isolation and confrontation sponsored by the previous administrations and which are only now being overcome.
Sir Ian Duncan in his resignation letter to PM Theresa May mentions among achievements the September 2016 UK/Argentina communiqué, which means it is relevant, means Malvinas is in the agenda, and is certainly not ignored by the Islanders.
Petrella also mentions the recent Mercosur/EU accord, described as a central achievement of Argentine diplomacy, but also underlines that British diplomacy is one of the most capable in the world, so do not to ignore this fact. Thus Argentina must display professionalism, a transaction spirit and long term efficiency.