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Deputy Foreign Minister Foradori at the House Of Representatives

28 September 2016
Información para la Prensa N°: 
316/16

On 28 September 2016, the Deputy Foreign Minister, Ambassador Carlos Foradori, attended the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Argentine House of Representatives, in order to report on the content of the Joint Communiqué issued by Argentina and the United Kingdom on 13 September, on the occasion of the visit by the Minister of State for Europe and the Americas at the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Alan Duncan, to Argentina.

 

Ambassador Foradori explained that the document is not an agreement or an international treaty. Joint communiqués, as is customary, are not signed and do not have a date of entry into force. It is a programmatic, non-binding document, usual after this kind of meetings, which amounts to a road map on all matters of mutual interest; naturally, it addressed the Question of the Malvinas Islands.

 

After listing each of the fields of bilateral cooperation, the Deputy Foreign Minister centred his report on the issue of the South Atlantic and answered legislators' questions. 

 

He explained that the Joint Communiqué does not disregard the issue of sovereignty. Argentina’s rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas have been adequately preserved by including the sovereignty formula agreed in the 1989 Madrid Joint Statement, which is, in itself, an acknowledgement of the existence of a dispute. The sovereignty "umbrella" is not new. It stems from the 1959 Antarctic Treaty and was used in the 1971 Argentina-UK Joint Statement on communications, which—among other things—provided for flights between Argentine continental territory and the Islands, and facilitated the transit of individuals and goods in both directions.

 

Foradori then stated that the issues addressed in the Communiqué (fishing, hydrocarbons and flights) will be subject to negotiations and specific agreements, with due participation by Congress. The removal of obstacles referred to in said Communiqué should not be construed as a concession by one Party, but as concessions and gestures on both sides. On the other hand, this is not the first time these issues are addressed on a bilateral basis. They were discussed before the 1982 armed conflict, and negotiations were resumed through the 1990 Joint Statement on fishing resources, the 1995 Joint Declaration on hydrocarbons, and the 1999 Joint Statement on Communications.

 

In the field of fisheries, the Deputy Foreign Minister explained that the purpose of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission was to preserve the most significant high seas species in the South Atlantic—one of the most important fishing grounds at a global level. It operated regularly until 2005, when the United Kingdom unilaterally announced the grant of fishing licenses for up to 25 years. Special diplomatic meetings were held in 2006 and 2007 unsuccessfully, and in 2012 the Argentine government submitted a proposal to the United Kingdom to resume negotiations on fisheries, also to no avail.

 

With regard to hydrocarbons, the Deputy Foreign Minister pointed out that the 1995 Joint Declaration provided for a cooperation scheme, which failed due to the Parties' divergent interpretation in respect of exploration and exploitation areas. In October 1995, the United Kingdom unilaterally initiated a public bidding process in respect of the disputed area. Furthermore, a Commission was established in the abovementioned Declaration. In the last meeting of the Commission —held in July 2000— the Parties agreed to take some time to reflect on the issue. In 2006 and 2007, Argentina proposed to resume the dialogue, with no success. In March 2007, Argentina denounced the Joint Declaration in view of the persistence of British unilateral acts. In this context, the Deputy Foreign Minister referred to the regulations adopted by the Argentine Government to impose administrative and criminal sanctions on companies carrying out exploration and exploitation activities without the authorization of the competent Argentine authority.

 

With regard to air services, Mr. Foradori said that, to date, there is only one weekly flight connecting Punta Arenas (Chile) with the Malvinas Islands, with two monthly stops in mainland Argentina. In 2003 and 2004, Argentina submitted new proposals to establish further regular flights, but the United Kingdom did not accept them. Finally, in March 2012, a new proposal was submitted to the United Kingdom for non-stop flights between Buenos Aires and the Malvinas Islands, which was also rejected. In this regard, the Deputy Foreign Minister underscored that the Joint Communiqué of 13 September 2016 will increase the frequency of flights with stops in mainland Argentina, provided this can be formalized through agreements in this field. All the details, alternatives and general considerations will be addressed in future discussions and conversations. No airline can be excluded.

 

Ambassador Foradori underscored the importance of identifying the remains of Argentine soldiers buried at the Darwin cemetery, with the assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Considerable progress has been made on this issue over the last few months. The initiative, proposed by the Argentine Republic to the Red Cross in 2012, is essentially of a humanitarian nature. Its implementation will definitely constitute a step towards the reconciliation between the United Kingdom and Argentina. 

 

The Deputy Foreign Minister finished his presentation by expressing that the Joint Communiqué marks the commencement of a new Argentine-British relationship and opens up the possibility of resuming the discussion on the issue of sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, within a new framework of dialogue and cooperation.

 

The Deputy Foreign Minister categorically stated that any agreements that may eventually be entered into with the United Kingdom will be considered in discussions and debates in which the Argentine Congress will fully participate. He further reaffirmed the pursuit of an objective shared by all the Argentine people: exercising sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.

 

 

Press release No. 318/16

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