Coffee House

Argentina’s Foreign Minister compares the Falklanders to Israeli settlers

5 February 2013

4:50 PM

5 February 2013

4:50 PM

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.’

Lord Davies, the turncoat Tory who served as a defence minister in the Brown government, asked if the Argentines might pursue their territorial claim in the international court at the Hague. Timerman replied that his government will not be doing so because the British government is not serious about entering arbitration. His evidence for this is that the British government rejected an arbitration appeal in 1884 (in fact, he meant 1888). This is not the strongest argument, particularly from someone who professed determination not to talk about the past.

How could there be negotiation between the two parties when Argentina does not recognise the Falklanders’ right to self-determination? This question elicited an ingenious response from Timerman:

‘Self-determination does not apply to Las Malvinas’.

His reasoning is based on an interpretation of international law which defines the Falklands Islands as a colonised territory; and, therefore, it cannot be self-determined. He continued: ‘According to the UN, the islanders are not a native population’. This statement was delivered a few minutes after some delightful exchanges about the forthcoming 150th anniversary of the migration of tens of thousands of Welshmen to Patagonia; and, of course, it was uttered by a Spanish speaker from South America (although it should be noted that he prefers ‘Latin America’.)

The word ‘irony’ could not contain the multitude of speciousness issuing from Senor Timerman’s mouth. He was, however, barely warmed up. Timerman began to speak at length about Britain’s colonial history and the need to move on. There was no mention of Argentina’s origins and the systematic eradication of its indigenous peoples (so clearly documented by Matthew Parris a few weeks ago). Timerman then drew comparison between the Falkland islanders and settlers in the West Bank by enlightening his audience of the British government’s hypocrisy of condemning Israeli settlements while continuing to support the islanders. ‘It does not make any sense,’ he said excitedly, echoing my very thoughts.

This was a meeting of parliamentarians and officials from both countries. I could only conclude that there can be no resolution of the Falklands dispute while Argentina persists with an approach that is dishonest, and not merely intellectually. This is a shame because the meeting touched on some areas where there is much agreement between Britain and Argentina: on bilateral trade, fostering multilateral links in South America, the workings of the G20, and the crucial matter of tackling tax evasion and tightening loopholes in international law that enable tax avoidance. Yet meaningful discussion was lost under the sound of Timerman’s fury.

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Show comments
  • cyllan2

    he can go and suck a spanish egg….retard

  • ButcombeMan

    If Argentina had opened up to the Falkland Islanders 50 years ago, traded with them invited Falkland Islanders into Argentina, ensured mutual reliance and above all interbred, the Falklands would nearly be theirs for the taking now.

    It was a tactic that the Roman Empire employed wonderfully well.

    For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Argentina would do well to remember that.

  • DWWolds

    Someone should have posed a direct question to Timerman: “Does not your own definition mean that you and the other descendents of settlers in Argentina are themselves colonists?

    • KB

      No man, the Spanish colonies became independent through wars of independence and since then we are talking about different states and nationalities. Instead kelpers are British citizens.

  • Andy Whittaker

    …that’s strange, I wouldn’t have thought the Argentine Foreign Minister would have thought that the Falkland Islanders had a divine right to settle in the land that has been theirs and bears their name from time immemorial!

    • KB

      Do not take it in bad way Andy, do not feel that I’m attacking, we have the same feelings but opposite. Let me tell you that in fact it is memorable, Greetings.

      One hundred and eighty years ago Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km (8700 miles) away from London.

      The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the
      United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process.

      Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the
      territories to the Argentine Republic.

      In 1960, the United Nations proclaimed the necessity of “bringing to
      an end colonialism in all its forms and manifestations”. In 1965, the
      General Assembly adopted, WITH NO VOTES AGAINST (NOT EVEN BY THE UNITED KINGDOM), a resolution considering the Falklands Islands a colonial case and inviting the two countries to negotiate a solution to the sovereignty dispute between them.This was followed by many other resolutions to that effect.

  • Daniel Maris

    Specious may be his arguments, illegitimate may be his claims – but Argentina has been effective in getting Latin America onside and they won’t be giving up.

    I think it is in the interests of Britain, the Falklanders and Argentina to negotiate a settlement based around codominium of the islands, Argentine settlement of West Falklands, up to a population not to exceed that of East Falklands (where nearly all the current inhabitatns are based) and with regular (every 25 years say) referendums in the East on whether to join Argentina . Natural ocean resources to be split evenly between Argentina and British Falklands.

    • Leonardo Jordao

      The fascist mindset behind the present Latin American solidarity should not be allowed to gain one inch of foothold anywhere. You simply do not know who you are dealing with, Mr Chamberlain. I am Brazilian, and I can assure you that any sort of compromise on sovereignty would eventually have deleterious effects on the lives of most of my compatriots. A hard line is here the only sane and moral approach to follow.

  • Steve K

    Someone’s getting desperate? lol

  • britbob

    Interesting to note that while other countries have taken a wide berth, Argentina has increased its trade volumes with Iran by 200% in the past 5-years.

  • britbob

    The man is seriously deluded. Argentina has no moral nor legal claim to the Falklands. Britain claimed the islands in 1765 – Argentina did not inherit them from Spain. Settlements came and went. Vernet the Argentine hero had permission from Britain to set up a business venture on the islands but turned his hand to piracy and switched allegiance to Argentina – an illegal act as Britain had claimed the islands. In 1833 the British asked Vernet and his Argentine garrison to leave but the vast majority of settlers chose to stay under the British flag. In 1850 Britain and Argentina signed a peace treaty known as ‘The Convention of Settlement.’ The purpose of the treaty was to restore relations between the two countries and ‘settle ANY outstanding differences.’ It did. Argentina had made sovereignty claims right up to 1849 but did not make another sovereignty claim until 1941 – under international law sovereignty claims are usually considered defuct if there is a gap of 50 years between claims. The 3,000 Falkland Islanders DO have the right to self determination under the UN charter – something that the Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon confirmed on 12th November 12 when he was speaking to an Argentine newspaper about the Falklands referendum and said,’People should be able to decide their own future.’ The Falkland Islanders do not wish to become a colony of Argentina just like the people of the Canary Islands do not wish to become part of Morocco.

  • mikewaller

    We should smile sweetly and ask him to come back when Argentina has done the right thing in respect of all the territory it has seized by naked force from its South American neighbours and the indigenous population since coming into being.

  • Knowles2

    The UN general council can do what ever it wants, only the security council at the UN has any real power and Britain has a veto.

    • Bluesman

      Another item on the EU agenda is to replace the UK and France as a permanent member. Ever Closer Chuffing Union – ain’t it great.

      • chudsmania

        Wont ever happen , the EU is not a nation , and if it pretended it was then the UK would never give up its seat. Especially if by that time we’re not in the EU.

        • Bluesman

          Here’s hoping.

  • Colonel Mustard

    We’ll cave in eventually. We always do. With much weasel wording and justification.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Not if we don’t elect a Labour government. And not if we find oil.

  • Chris lancashire

    Looks a lot like Gerald Kaufman.

    • Bluesman

      Or that Gollum creature from Brussels.

    • britbob

      More like Groucho Marks

  • wycombewanderer

    He is Argentina’s ‘Comical Ali’