Argentina’s foreign minister, Hector Timerman, is in town. He spoke to all the All Party Parliamentary Group on Argentina earlier this afternoon. There are close economic and social links between Britain and Argentina, extending far back into the nineteenth century; but the meeting was dominated by what was euphemistically termed ‘the islands’.
Timerman began diplomatically. ‘You can speak to this Argentina,’ he assured the assembled honourable members and lords. ‘This Argentina is ready to talk.’ This sounded encouraging, a welcome contrast to President Kirchner’s bellicosity. Timerman spoke about the need for ‘frank and open’ discussions that did not obsess about ‘the past’. The future is what counts.
Deputy Speaker of the Commons Lindsay Hoye said that ‘the islands’ were not ‘Britain’s to give or Argentina’s to take’. This implied that self-determination is the only factor in play, reflecting the British government position. Hoye suggested that the Argentine government does not want to hear the democratic rights of the islanders. Timerman said that he did, but gave no indication of how the Argentine government would listen to or accommodate the wishes of the islanders. Later he said:
‘There is a difference between interests and wishes. The people living in the Malvinas will have their interests taken into consideration, but not their wishes. That is what the United Nations has said, many times.’
The general assembly of the UN is central to Argentina’s strategy. Timerman declared his confidence that the many countries there arraigned against Britain will see the Falklands become Argentine territory within 20 years. Argentina presents the UN as the final word on international law. He said:
‘It is an issue that has to be resolved by Argentina and the United Kingdom. By introducing a third party (the Falklanders), the United Kingdom is changing more than 40 resolutions by the United Nations, which call the two countries to negotiate.