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Montevideo, November 27th 2022 - 08:59 UTC

 

 

Duncan downplays comments on Foradori, but damage to Falklands' 2016 Joint Statement has been done

Friday, April 29th 2022 - 09:50 UTC
Full article 7 comments
Sir Ian Duncan and Carlos Foradori during the 2016 negotiations Sir Ian Duncan and Carlos Foradori during the 2016 negotiations
Mark Kent, the former British ambassador in Argentina Mark Kent, the former British ambassador in Argentina
Sir Alan Duncan book: “In the thick of it” Sir Alan Duncan book: “In the thick of it”

Ex Foreign Office minister for the Americas, Alan Duncan has said that former Argentine deputy foreign minister Carlos Foradori was a formidable negotiator, despite having written in a book on his memoirs that his counterpart in trade, cooperation and Falklands/Malvinas negotiations at the British embassy cellar in Buenos Aires, rang the following morning to say he “was pissed” since the night before he had drank too much.

This obviously triggered a major media scandal in Argentina given how sensitive the Malvinas issue is, and at the most inconvenient moment, the anniversary of the fortieth anniversary of the war, and in the midst of talks to resume flights linking the Falklands with Chile and Brazil, after almost two years of interruption because of the pandemic.

In a brief statement, the former FCO minister said that ”recent criticisms in the (Argentine) media referred to Carlos Foradori are totally unfounded and constitute an unfair attack on his reputation. In 2016 we were both deputy foreign ministers of our two countries and participated in detailed negotiations on bilateral relations, in particular referred to the Falkland Islands“.

”As a result additional flights to the Islands were negotiated and total access was granted at the Argentine military cemetery at Darwin so that Argentina with DNA tests could identify the soldiers buried there“.

”Minister Foradori was tough and professional in all the meetings. A humorous reference in my dairies about a dinner is not an exact reflection of the nature of the conversations held, which involved all government levels from both sides and involved many meetings during many weeks“.

”There is no basis to question or attack the conduct or competence of Mr. Foradori. The British officials and I fully respect the solid defense of Argentine interests and his abilities as a negotiator. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false“, ends the brief message.

The allegations from the book by Duncan, ”In the thick of it“, led current Argentine foreign minister Santiago Cafiero to start an internal investigation as to the veracity of facts and led the ruling coalition in Congress to demand an annulment process of the controversial September 2016 UK/Argentina joint statement, which included a chapter on the Falklands “removing all obstacles” to developing the Islands economy and “further air links” from third countries.

Foradori in the midst of the Argentina media barrage has disputed Duncan’s recollection of events in the wine cellar, saying that ”what was described was completely unrealistic”.

Duncan in his diaries notes that on September 12, his first day in Buenos Aires, he met with the “excellent” new UK ambassador to Argentina, Mark Kent, adding details about the controversial events. “Beneath the [British] embassy residence is a fabulous wine cellar, nicely lit, the walls lined with bottles of Merlot,” and “the setting is nice enough for a meeting and we gather there with Carlos Foradori, the Deputy Foreign Minister.”

“It was a good diplomatic backdrop to some delicate negotiations about securing extra flights into the Falklands – for millions of reasons it requires the cooperation of Argentina for any connections that go via the mainland,” Duncan added. “And as one bottle after another somehow moved from the cellar wall to the table, the negotiations improved. At about 2 in the morning we shook hands on an outline deal.”

The next day, September 13, Duncan wrote: “Mark Kent says Foradori had just phoned to say he was so pissed last night he couldn’t remember all the details. Like a proper Brit, Mark reminded him what he had agreed, faithfully and without embellishment. So I think we’re still on track.”

Foradori, a 40-year diplomat who is currently awaiting assignment, said the resulting joint communiqué was “far too long to have been formulated in one evening”.

He added that various levels of sign off from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “prevent any official or diplomat deciding arbitrarily alone about any of the issues, particularly about such a sensitive one as the Malvinas,” He added: “Each issue analyzed in the statement still needed to be validated later on in formal agreements.”

However this has not prevented the Buenos Aires media to openly call Foradori a ”drunk traitor“, particularly since the 2016 joint communiqué was agreed during the government of president Mauricio Macri, loathed by the Kirchner government of Cristina Kirchner and president Alberto Fernandez, and who was inclined to a softer policy towards the Falklands.

In effect relations between UK and Argentina improved ”slightly” under the administration of conservative president Macri, (2015/19) including the Humanitarian Project Plan which under the guidance of the International Red Cross allowed the DNA forensic identification of 115 remains of 121 Argentine soldiers buried in unmarked graves at the Argentine military cemetery at Darwin, Falklands.“

On his second day in Buenos Aires, Duncan said that at ”the Argentina Investment Forum I have a brief encounter with President Macri, who gave his blessing to our efforts.” The former minister concluded, “We move up a notch from last night to conduct further (sober) negotiations with Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra which go right down to the wire. At times it looked like we wouldn’t be able to agree, but we emerge with the first positive joint statement since 1999, on trade, security and opening new airlines to the Falklands. A real landmark deal.”

But following on the revelations of Duncan's book, Alicia Castro a close aide and advisor of Cristina Fernandez, former ambassador in Venezuela and Britain (2012/15) was very caustic, the Argentine government should rip up the Foradori/Duncan agreement immediately. “The deal was a massive give away by Foradori to the British, which rightly caused outrage in Argentina. Now we have a better idea of how this present was given, it looks even worse. As a former ambassador, I can say this is absolutely no way to conduct serious diplomacy. It’s time to cancel the agreement in full.”

The head of the Malvinas and South Atlantic Islands, Guillermo Carmona recalled that at the time ”we asked for Foradori’s resignation because we believed he did things that were out of line, and had it not been for the congressional opposition the consequences could have been very serious for Argentina.” He added that “Foradori will have to be accountable for whatever he has said and done.”

Meantime lawyer Valeria Carreras who at the time of the joint statement in 2016/17 accused its participants of “treason”, on hearing that Foradori was 'drunk' during negotiations, has now broadened the criminal action and is demanding that both Foradori and Duncan should be called by the prosecution to declare.

Top Comments

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  • Steve Potts

    The important facts:

    In 2016 we were both deputy foreign ministers of our two countries and participated in detailed negotiations on bilateral relations, in particular referred to the Falkland Islands“.

    ”As a result additional flights to the Islands were negotiated and total access was granted at the Argentine military cemetery at Darwin so that Argentina with DNA tests could identify the soldiers buried there“.

    Apr 29th, 2022 - 09:35 am 0
  • Roger Lorton

    Landmark Deal (@Declassified) reduced to Joint Statement.

    Which is all it was. A statement of intent. The deals that followed, were the ones that needed signatures and, I assume, ratification (?).

    Storm in a teacup.

    Apr 29th, 2022 - 10:51 pm 0
  • Tænk

    TWIMC...

    Not a storm in a teacup...
    Just the death of a joint statement...

    Thanks again..., Sir Alan...
    Yours..., El Tænk...

    Apr 30th, 2022 - 05:22 am 0
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