Cristina Kirchner warns of ‘grave risks to international security’ and states intention to prevent war over natural resources
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has accused Britain of “militarising” the south Atlantic, and said she would seek UN intervention to prevent a war against Argentina for its natural resources.
The president warned of “grave risks to international security” if what she characterised as Britain’s aggressive colonial impulses were not reined in. “I want to ask the British prime minister to give peace a chance, give peace a chance, not war.”
Fernández spoke at the presidential palace in Buenos Aires in front of a large map of the Falkland Islands painted in the blue and white colours of the Argentinian flag.
The announcement sought to internationalise the dispute and raise pressure on London to discuss sovereignty. But Fernández did not close Argentina’s airspace to flights between Chile and the Falklands, as some islanders had feared.
Britain has dispatched the destroyer HMS Dauntless along with Prince William, a search and rescue pilot, claiming both deployments were routine, amid escalating tension prior to the 30th anniversary of the war. Both sides have accused the other of trying to distract from domestic economic woes.
Fernández summoned politicians and veterans of the 1982 Falklands war for her speech on Las Malvinas. “I have instructed our foreign minister to protest at the UN [against] the militarisation of the south Atlantic which implies a grave risk for international security, precisely when we see in other countries situations that become unmanageable. The coming wars will be for natural resources and Argentina is one of the richest regions in world in those resources,” she said. The president also promised to lift secrecy over a 1982 military report, named after General Benjamin Rattenbach, which was commissioned by Argentina’s former military dictatorship.
Fernández has mobilised much of South America and the Caribbean in a diplomatic and commercial squeeze. Ships flying the Falklands flag are barred from the region’s ports, depriving the islands of bananas and other fresh fruit.
She sought to widen the row by including Spain in the list of British colonial victims. “It is an anachronism in the 21st century to still have colonies, there are only 16 cases in the world, of which 10 are British and we’ve seen in recent days how the Spanish claim regarding Gibraltar has been renewed.”
After a decade of relative calm, tension flared last year when Argentina protested at oil drilling in Falkland waters. Two weeks ago, Argentina’s official news agency, Telam, started a Malvinas page with banner pictures of Argentinian jet fighters, helicopters, tanks and soldiers.
A correspondent for the newspaper Clarin reported harsh sentiments from Stanley on Tuesday. The article quoted islanders referring to “fucking Argies” and was illustrated with a photograph of a gift shop mug with an altered map of South America that replaced Argentina with blue emptiness named “Mierda Sea”. Mierda means “shit” in Spanish.
A summit of leftwing leaders in Venezuela last weekend backed Fernández’s campaign as a pan-regional cause. Her Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chávez, said Caracas would support its ally in a military conflict.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The people of the Falkland Islands are British out of choice. They are free to determine their own future and there will be no negotiations with Argentina over sovereignty unless the islanders wish it.”