Thursday, 20 Jan 2022

‘No support for British colonial policy’ Falklands row erupts as politician mocks UK

Falklands: Former Argentine senator calls for fresh talks with UK

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Daniel Filmus, who as Secretary for Malvinas had responsibility for his country’s policy relating to the remote archipelago, is keen to keep the issue of sovereignty on the agenda. Argentina attempted to seize the Falklands after invading in 1982, and despite its subsequent defeat in the brief but bloody war which followed, Buenos Aires has continued to press its claim ever since.

A frequent critic of the UK Government, Mr Filmus, who is now Argentina’s Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, rarely misses an opportunity to raise the issue.

Speaking to Argentina’s Telam news agency, he sought to highlight what he called “the lack of international support for the colonial policy” of Great Britain.

Additionally he hailed what he termed “the endorsement of all multilateral organisations to the Argentine claim for Malvinas” while suggesting “the ball is in the British court” in reference to recent remarks by Boris Johnson about table tennis.

He said: “2021 has been a year in which all multilateral organisations have emphasised their support for Argentina’s claim to the Malvinas Islands.”

Such support had been voiced by “regional organisations” such as the Organisation of American States (OAS), the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), Mercosur, Parlasur, and the Central American Parliament, Mr Filmus stressed.

He added: “But it was also expressed unanimously by the UN Decolonisation Committee and the G77+ China, which brings together 133 countries from all continents.”

Referring to the UK’s decision to quit the EU, Mr Filmus said: “After Brexit, the European Union left the Malvinas, Georgias and South Sandwich Islands out of the free trade agreement with the United Kingdom.

“At the same time, the United Kingdom suffered severe setbacks to its colonial policy in other latitudes by the International Court of Justice, as in the case of the Chagos Archipelago.”

The table tennis jibe is a reference to Mr Johnson’s Christmas message to Falkland Islanders, in which he mentioned the decision by the International Table Tennis Federation to recognise “the inviolable sovereignty of Falkland table tennis players”.

In a swipe at Britain’s PM, Mr Filmus said: “Tell me what you brag about and I’ll tell you what you lack.

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“The UK Government has rarely acknowledged publicly and so starkly the lack of international support for its colonial policy.”

He added: “In this context of rejection of their colonial strategy, celebrating a ping pong match only highlights their isolation.

“However, the vindication of this sport takes us back to an auspicious event that took place in the early Seventies.

“It went down in history as ‘Ping-Pong diplomacy.’

“From this event, the first steps began to be taken for the reopening of dialogue between the United States and China, when the former accepted an invitation to play a table tennis match on the territory of the Asian giant.

“Boris Johnson’s rescue of this sport is welcome if it would help the British government, 40 years after the war (over the Malvinas Islands) to resume dialogue with Argentina for the recovery of our exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands in the terms that the United Nations and the international community have been demanding since 1965, the year in which the General Assembly adopted Resolution 2065.

“Argentina has consistently expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue. Now the ball is in the UK’s court.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk in June, Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the British Overseas Territories All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), urged Mr Filmus to move on from what he called his “bellicose” threats.

With Mr Filmus having accused Argentina of “usurping” the Falklands and “plundering” its wealth, the Tory MP for Romford told Express.co.uk: “It would seem to me to be a waste of the time and money of Argentinian taxpayers for there to be a Secretary for Las Malvinas, given the decisive nature in which this issue was resolved, firstly in the 1982 war and secondly in the almost unanimous consent that the Falkland Islanders gave to their continuing status as a British Overseas Territory in the 2013 referendum.

“With Argentina still mired in a deadly wave of COVID-19 Argentinians must be asking themselves why on earth their Government is devoting time and energy to an issue on which they know the UK Government, and the people of the Falkland Islands, will remain absolutely firm on.”

In 2013, 1,518 of the Falkland Islands’ 1,600 voters took part in a referendum on the subject of sovereignty, with 1,513 (99.8 percent) voting to retain the country’s links with Britain. Three people voted no, with two ballots invalid or blank.

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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