Argentina minister takes swipe at Boris over military – Falklands claim ripped apart

Brexit: Argentina to 'push EU for negotiation' says Filmus

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Earlier this week, Mr Johnson made a speech in the House of Commons to outline the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy. This included expanding the UK’s nuclear weapons arsenal for the first time since the fall of the Soviet Union 30 years ago, highlighting Russia and China as the biggest “threats” to security. The Prime Minister also announced the ratification of maintaining Britain’s “permanent military presence” in the Falkland Islands.

But those comments have sparked a furious reaction from high-profile politicians in Argentina, Falklands – also known as the Malvinas, Antarctica and South American Islands.

Argentina’s Defence Minister Agustin Rossi raged the plans announced by Mr Johnson in the Commons represent the “reaffirmation of the colonialist claim” that the UK has on the islands.

He argued: “In Malvinas, there are as many soldiers as there are inhabitants. We have long said that it is a military base.”

Commenting directly on the presentation of an Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, Mr Rossi fumed: “Boris Johnson departs from the path of diplomacy that Argentina follows.”

He added that “reaffirming our diplomatic path cannot make us not see that the military path is more important for the British”, while also calling for “the strengthening of our permanent presence” in the area.

The Defence Minister said: “England’s position in the Malvinas has to do with its position in the South Atlantic, in Antarctica and in the Strait of Magellan. And we have to strengthen our position there.

“Argentina is not just any country: we are the eighth country in the world in terms of surface and we have abundant natural resources such as fresh water and lithium.

“The importance of the hydrocarbon basin and the low population density, when we are inserted in a world that, unlike Argentina, is overpopulated and demands natural resources.”

Secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctica and the South Atlantic Islands, Daniel Filmus, also lashed out at Mr Johnson, claiming the vision the Prime Minister raised in his Commons announcement “is clearly colonial”.

He told AM750 radio in Argentina: “The colonialist perspective of the United Kingdom is striking and the increase in arms is serious at a time when the world is concerned about saving lives from the pandemic.”

Mr Filmus added “it is a fallacy to speak of a military base in Malvinas from a defensive perspective”, stressing “it does not make any sense” because Argentina maintains in its national Constitution that the “only way to recover the Malvinas islands -usurped in 1833- is through peace and negotiation.”

The minister said: “The United Kingdom has a geopolitical vision on the islands, since with that possession they control the access to Antarctica and the bi-oceanic channel, which has a fundamental geopolitical importance, and because of the wealth that belongs to the 45 million Argentines such as hydrocarbons, fishing, biodiversity and minerals.

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“The vision that Johnson has raised is clearly colonial and there are still 17 colonial situations in the world that the United Nations is dealing with and 10 are British,” he warned, including Gibraltar, which Spain claims, and recalled that the United Kingdom “has the inheritance and the tradition of the dominion of the seas.”

Commenting on the part of Mr Johnson’s announcement about the military base in the Malvinas Islands, Mr Filmus claimed that in addition to UN resolution 2065, the UK is also violating “resolution 3149, which says that neither of the two states can make unilateral decisions in the area in dispute without the authorisation of the other and this invalidates the military base in Malvinas and also invalidates their economic exploitations in the area.”

He added: “The UN was very clear: as long as the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom lasts and we do not agree through dialogue, we cannot have unilateral actions in that area; thus the United Kingdom ignores the international community once again and it turns its back on the United Nations.”

In a sperate interview with in Argentina, Mr Filmus said he is following the situation “with great concern, because they talk about it being a defensive base, and we know that it is not.”

He added: “Argentina has shown again and again its peaceful vocation regarding any mechanism that involves the recovery of sovereignty in the Malvinas.

“Argentina only considers the diplomatic path to resolve the dispute, and does not have any military base.”

But Mr Filmus also attacked Mr Johnson for making an announcement regarding an increase in military spending when the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic.

The official said: “What strikes me about Johnson’s position is that it occurs at a time when humanity is worried about something else. He talks about increasing military spending in the midst of a pandemic, when we are concerned about saving lives.

“This is not the time for countries to invest in nuclear weapons.”

Mr Filmus also urged the UK to listen to the UN and international organisations, adding: “The UK is looking the other way when the world demands dialogue.”

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.

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