Hector Timerman: lost in translation over the Falklands

7 Jun

At a press conference yesterday, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, fresh from his attendance at the Organisation of American States, claimed that Britain recognised that there was international pressure to negotiate over the sovereignty of the Falkland islands, and that they would not be able to keep silent due to the efforts that Argentina had made to force the issue to the negotiating table.

Appearing to read rather a lot into a brief encounter at the OAS meeting, Timerman went on to say that Britain’s dialogue was not direct, but that the British Government felt forced to explain its position.

This rather surprising claim of a diplomatic coup seems to rest on Timerman’s brief exchange with the United Kingdom’s observer at the OAS, Fiona Clauder. Photographed shaking her hand, an act strangely described as ‘historic’, Timerman immediately demanded that they retire and open negotiations. The response was that the British observer would need to seek the permission of the Falkland islanders but, perhaps typically, this seems to have been lost in translation.

Clouder’s exact response was;  “The future of the Islands is not in the hands of the UK or Argentina, nor any other country represented here at the assembly. It is in the hands of the people of the Falklands,” adding that the UK “will not talk about sovereignty unless the people of the Falklands so decide”.

Lost in translation, or a deliberate misinterpretation on Hector Timerman’s part? Probably the latter as Argentina has a knack of only hearing what it wants to.

The Falkland Islands have been claimed by Britain since 1765. Spain contested this until 1863, when it recognised British sovereignty. Argentina’s claim is based on geography and a peculiar interpretation of ‘inheritance’.

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