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ARGENTINA | 02-04-2024 11:19

Milei vows Malvinas 'road map' as he plays politics with sovereignty claim

President Milei slams his predecessors in office and vows "new era of reconciliation with the Armed Forces" at ceremony marking 42nd anniversary of war in South Atlantic.

Argentina’s President Javier Milei on Tuesday restated his nation’s sovereignty claim over the disputed Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, arguing that his government is the first to take it “seriously.”

"We have grown tired of hearing over the past decades politicians beating their chests defending our just claim to the islands, without having a single result to show for it after all these years,” declared the president at an event remembering those who lost their lives in the 1982 conflict with the United Kingdom.

The La Libertad Avanza leader promised to inaugurate "a new era of reconciliation with the Armed Forces" and to deliver a “clear road map” that will “return the islands to Argentine hands.”

The disputed territory, known as Islas Malvinas in Argentina and the Falkland Islands in the UK, lie about 480 kilometres (298 miles) from mainland Argentina, which claims to have inherited them from Spain when it gained independence.

Britain insists it has historically ruled the islands and notes that islanders voted 99.8 percent in favour of remaining British in a 2013 referendum. It rejects Argentina’s claim and has refused to negotiate on the issue.

A short conflict over the territory in 1982 claimed the lives of 255 British and 649 Argentine soldiers and three islanders.

The Malvinas claim is one of the few issues that enjoys broad cross-party support in Argentina, but Milei used his speech to politicise the issue. 

Criticising his predecessors in office for their lack of progress, the far-right leader accused them of paying lip-service to the issue and disrespecting the Armed Forces.

In remarks that are sure to raise eyebrows in London, Milei on Tuesday vowed to draw up “a clear roadmap for the Malvinas to return to Argentine hands.”

Arguing that “economic prosperity” is a precondition for regaining the islands, Milei claimed his government’s reforms “will give rise to a strong and prosperous nation with real power to claim its sovereignty and be respected by other nations.”


‘Unwavering’

"The best tribute to those who gave their lives for our country is to defend the unwavering claim for Argentine sovereignty over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich and the surrounding maritime areas, but with a real and sincere claim,” argued Milei in his speech marking the 42nd anniversary of the beginning of the conflict.

The president accused previous heads of state of delivering “mere words in international forums” that had “no impact on reality,” despite stating that the claim “should not be the monopoly of a political space.”

Milei went on to link the inability to regain the islands to the economic policies of previous administrations.

"We have grown tired of hearing over the past decades politicians beating their chests defending our just claim to the islands, without having a single result to show for it after all these years,” said the president.

"For a sovereign nation to be respected … there are two essential conditions that must be met: that nation must be a protagonist in international trade and it must also have Armed Forces capable of defending its territory against anyone who tries to invade it,” declared Milei, whose speech was aired via the ‘Cadena Nacional’ broadcast system across all television signals.

“No-one listens to or respects a country that produces only poverty and whose politicians despise their own [Armed] forces. Argentina, a product of the political leadership of recent decades, has not fulfilled any of these conditions.

"It is no coincidence that little or no progress has been made in the claim for our islands. We are, after decades, the first government to take charge of this situation and to have a clear course to be a truly prosperous and sovereign country,” said Milei.

The La Libertad Avanza leader argued that the economic reforms introduced by his government will “give rise to a strong and prosperous nation with real power to claim its sovereignty.”

"There is no sovereignty without economic prosperity and, as all the empirical evidence shows, there is no economic prosperity without economic freedom,” concluded Milei, who ended his speech with his trademark slogan: “Viva la libertad, carajo” (“Long live freedom, dammit”).

 

Villarruel accompanies

Milei's speech was eagerly anticipated due to his admiration for former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who took the decision in 1982 to attack the cruiser General Belgrano – where 323 Argentines died – an action Argentina considers to have been a war crime.

The libertarian has previously described her as an “idol” and one of “the great leaders in the history of humanity.”

He has also said that the rights of the existing islanders must be respected and suggested that a “Hong Kong” style agreement should be negotiated to return the territory “like England did with China.”

The president was joined at Tuesday’s service by several national government officials, including Defence Minister Luis Petri, Foreign Minister Diana Mondino and Vice-President Victoria Villarruel.

Buenos Aires City Mayor Jorge Macri, who echoed the sovereignty claim in his own speech at the commemoration, was also in attendance.

Since 2001, April 2 has been known as Day of the Veterans and Fallen of the Malvinas War and been declared a national holiday.

Villarruel, who comes from a military family and is the daughter of a Malvinas veteran, praised the “heroic deed” and “immense sacrifice” of the Armed Forces.

Brushing aside the UK’s refusal to negotiate, she said Tuesday that the Milei government must “finally and seriously” include the issue in “bilateral discussions” with the UK.

"Here there is an extra-continental interference of a power on Argentine territory and it is time for the United Kingdom to sit down and really discuss with the Argentine Republic the sovereignty claim that has been pending since 1833", she concluded.
 

– TIMES/NA

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