“Substantive negotiations must be handled by professionals. There is a history, a strategy, a geopolitics, a variety of economic-commercial circumstances and a diversity of issues to take into account” (Fernando Calzada)
Roberto García Moritán is a career diplomat and has served as Director of Latin American Policy, Undersecretary of Foreign Policy and Vice Chancellor. In dialogue with DEF, he reflects on the Malvinas cause, analyzing the current situation and the challenges for the future.
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– How do you rate the current moment of the Malvinas cause?
– I think that we are at a moment of impasse and that, starting next year, interesting negotiation work can be restarted. I make that difference because, basically, the current administration had a confrontational attitude, without any agenda behind it. One of the issues to be defined is the role of diplomats, because substantive negotiations must be handled by professionals. There is a history, a strategy, a geopolitics, a variety of economic-commercial circumstances and a diversity of issues to take into account. I think that the first task that the next chancellor will have will be to reinsert the country into the world. Then, begin to reestablish a slightly more serious multilateral and bilateral agenda.
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– From the United Kingdom they insist on the referendum held in the Islands, in which the Kelpers chose to be part of the Crown. What is your opinion on this argument?
– That argument is a fallacy, because it has no validity. What did the United Nations say a few years ago? That neither we nor they take unilateral measures that modify the current situation of the dispute and ordered us to “talk.” But they have called for a referendum to reaffirm their point of view. Not only is it violative of the principle of Resolution 2065, but it is also a joke.
For Moritán, the kelpers referendum is not only in violation of the principle of resolution 2065, but is also a joke (DEF File)
– Is it a lost cause?
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– Malvinas is not a lost cause, it is a cause to be taken seriously. And that means that one cannot zigzag in objectives and strategy. In Argentina the different governments must follow the same path. An example: Mauricio Macri’s administration adopted a series of measures in terms of fishing issues that this administration canceled without much reason. From my point of view, the next administration is going to have to resume them, but it will be difficult after there has been one that suspended them. These zigzags do not build strategies or lines of thought on which one can explore when to address the underlying issues that matter most. Argentina is adrift, it happens in daily life, in foreign policy and in the most important issue of this policy, because the Malvinas is an issue present in our National Constitution.
– The 2016 Foradori-Duncan memorandum made noise…
– In reality, it was a statement that included a series of topics. When the statement was reported, almost all the issues were resolved. Cooperation on fishing was suspended, which, from my point of view, is a shame, because one of the most important issues that had been achieved was the fact that there was joint scientific research in the exclusion zone. The attitude of confrontation is lethal for our sovereignty. Meanwhile, they do nothing to prevent Spain from increasing the number of its fishing boats in the Malvinas, because almost all the squid caught in the Islands is made by Spanish boats.
“Malvinas is not a lost cause, it is a cause to be taken seriously. And that means that one cannot zigzag in objectives and strategy. In Argentina, the different governments must follow the same path” (AFP)
THE SOUTH ATLANTIC: GEOPOLITICS, RESOURCES AND SOVEREIGNTY
– What do you think is the future of the cause if you take into account how valuable the South Atlantic is in terms of resources?
– The South Atlantic is important in its fishing grounds and in its different species. Squid is one of them. But it also has value from another point of view, because, in meteorological matters, it is an area that has influence on the North Atlantic, which explains why in the south there are a large number of oceanographic and meteorological research vessels from Northern countries. The United Kingdom has scientific and technological means for this purpose. Argentina should surpass that capacity that the United Kingdom currently dominates, so that it would have a de facto presence, even, I would say, from a military point of view.
– How do you think these actions could influence you?
– These types of actions would give our country positions of power and would awaken British interest. What needs to be found here is a compelling agenda that forces the United Kingdom to sit down to negotiate and develop thematic actions to have a presence. A negotiation is not about being stubborn, shouting and kicking; You have to generate arguments and, when there are not enough, put them together.
– You mentioned the military issue, what should be the Argentine strategy in this matter?
– It is true that we have the most diverse financial problems and a significant percentage of the population in poverty, but a country like ours, with its geographical dimension and considering the geopolitical problems of the current world, must seriously face the problem of the defense. The coming decades are going to be very complex, because we are in times of an enormous power struggle for world supremacy. The South Atlantic and Antarctica are going to be hot zones. Argentina must have cutting-edge material and provide its National Defense with the best means. And I think we are going to have to solve the problem of the blockade that the United Kingdom imposes on us.
“The next decades are going to be very complex, because we are in moments of an enormous power struggle for world supremacy” (DEF File)
– Taking into account the dispute, how and who should Argentina’s allies be?
– We need allies from different angles. Because the Malvinas can be one, but we also need allies due to the evolution of the Antarctic problem and we need to have a context of associations in terms of security due to the geopolitical implications of the world to come. Today’s world demands the convenience of having alliances with countries that have the same values and objectives. Argentina should take this issue more seriously. So far there are informal arrangements. I demand to transform that rhetoric into more committed relationships: that our friends know that it is time to turn it into real facts to support our objective in the Malvinas.
– Following that line, what happened when the United Kingdom left the European Union?
– Consequently, the Islands lost the privileges they had, because their products entered the European market without tariffs. However, Malvinas managed to maintain it in its fishing products. Argentina did not have enough diplomatic weight in Brussels, nor before the 28 members of the EU to say: “No, gentlemen, that should not be approved.” Evidently, Argentina did not have a strategy to address this issue.
According to Roberto García Moritán: “today’s world demands the convenience of having alliances with countries that have the same values and objectives” (DEF File)
– What was the best moment for the Cause in diplomatic matters?
– During the life of General Juan Domingo Perón there were negotiation situations. There was a specific offer from the United Kingdom linked to the transfer of sovereignty: Argentina had to provide how it was going to defend the interests of the islanders and a date remained to be defined. Then the president died, the coup came and the negotiations broke down. Finally, a situation was created that led to war. At present, the counterpart is very comfortable: they occupy the Islands and they don’t care much. The ones who have to insist and create conditions are us.
– As an Argentine, how do you feel about the cause?
I go through it with a lot of pain. In recent decades we have been losing, from 1982 to date. Unfortunately we came to war. Argentina is a country without patience, in which political leaders can hardly be classified as statesmen. This impatience causes them to make decisions more at the level of internal politics than at the level of foreign policy objectives.