Eurasian Economic Union to boost ties with South America’s largest trade bloc

BUENOS AIRES, November 26. /TASS/. The Eurasian Economic Union, which is due to go into effect in 2015, and the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) have almost agreed on a memorandum of understanding, a minister for trade of the Eurasian Economic Commission told TASS in an interview on Wednesday.

“We have in fact completed the work on the memorandum of cooperation in the economic sphere between the two integration associations,” said Andrey Slepnev, who leads talks with Argentina, the current chair of the Mercosur trade group. Continue reading

David Cameron must return Falklands to Argentina, Cristina Kirchner demands in open letter

As it becomes politically, economically and socially upheaved, it’s only a matter of time before the “Keys” are taken from the Western world. As it grows stronger, the Mercosur bloc could likely play a key role in ousting British influence throughout the region.

David Cameron must return the Falkland Islands to Argentina, 180 years after the territories were “forcibly stripped” from the South American country, the country’s president has claimed in newspaper adverts.

The 212-word letter, copied to Ban Ki-moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations, repeatedly refers to the Falklands as the Malvinas, the Argentine Government’s Spanish name for the islands. Continue reading

Falkland Islanders have the right to choose their future

While we in the Islands have grown well accustomed to political rhetoric from Buenos Aires over the years, these latest moves have seen everyday life made that bit harder, with the selection of food on the shelves changing, and becoming more expensive, as we have had to find new suppliers for everyday goods. But, we Falkland Islanders are resourceful people and will not be defeated by political and economic bullying. We remain resolute in our desire to maintain neighbourly relations with all our South American neighbours, including Argentina, for mutual benefit. During the 1990s, significant progress had been made in our relationship with Argentina; agreements had been reached on conservation of fish stocks and on oil exploration but Argentina unilaterally withdrew from these, something we deeply regret.

With the eyes of the world on the South Atlantic in recent weeks, one unified message continues to come from those that live in the Islands; that is our right to self-determination. The people of the Falkland Islands remain a British Overseas Territory by choice. It is our constitutional right and a fundamental freedom enshrined in the UN Charter. This right to self-determination is a value that is protected and promoted by democratic powers the world over; the Falkland Islands are no different. We are happy to talk, but our sovereignty remains non-negotiable.

Full article: Falkland Islanders have the right to choose their future (MercoPress)

Obama’s Falklands Failure

Thirty years ago, on April 2, 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland. British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher quickly assembled and dispatched a formidable naval task force to retake the islands, which had been a British possession since 1833. On June 14, Argentine forces surrendered to the Royal Marines. The conflict was brief and violent, with both nations losing ships and hundreds of sailors and soldiers. The war was, however, a decisive victory for the United Kingdom.

As the 30th anniversary of the war approached, in December, Argentinian President Christina Kirchner vowed that her nation would reclaim the Islas Las Malvinas, as the Falklands are called in Argentina. She stated that “[i]n the 21st century [Britain] continues to be a crude colonial power in decline.”  She branded British Prime Minister David Cameron “arrogant” and said his defense in parliament of the right of the people of the Falklands to self-determination was an expression of “mediocrity and stupidity.”

Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, claims that Cameron’s defense of the Falklands sovereignty “is perhaps the last refuge of a declining power.” Prince William aka Flight Lieutenant Wales, who is currently piloting a Royal Air Force rescue helicopter in the Falklands, has been labeled a “conquistador” by Argentine officials.

While it seems unlikely that Argentina would risk another humiliating defeat by invading the Falklands in the near term, the temptation of appealing to nationalism to mask an economic or political crisis combined with the desire to control what appear to be significant South Atlantic oil reserves means that another Argentine military adventure cannot be ruled out. There are four key takeaways from the current situation with implications that stretch much further than the issue at hand:

First, military weakness is provocative. Argentina ramped up its aggressive rhetoric and diplomatic efforts to reclaim the Falklands only after P.M. Cameron announced massive cuts to the Royal Navy and British ground forces. The decommissioning last December of the U.K.’s sole remaining aircraft carrier, Ark Royal, well before its service life ended, and the sale of Britain’s 50 G-9 Sea Harrier fighter jets to the U.S. Marine Corps, seems to have emboldened the Argentines. In 1982, the Royal Navy had approximately 90 warships from which it could assemble a task force.  Today it has 30. Indeed, most experts believe that while it would be very difficult for the Argentine military to successfully invade the islands, it would be nearly impossible for the U.K. to retake them without an aircraft carrier in the event that Argentina was successful in overrunning Britain’s key air base at Mount Pleasant.

Second, the Obama administration has made the United States an unreliable ally for our closest friends. Britain has been a stalwart ally of the U.S. in both Iraq and Afghanistan, notwithstanding the tremendous domestic political pressure on Labour and Conservative governments not to participate in those unpopular wars. However, in 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for talks over the dispute and even appeared to side with Argentina during a press conference with President Kirchner in Buenos Aires.  Last month, as the current situation developed, rather than send a clear message to Argentina that the United States supported its longtime ally, a State Department spokesman demurred: “[t]his is a bilateral issue that needs to be worked out directly between the governments of Argentina and the United Kingdom…We recognize de facto United Kingdom administration of the islands, but take no position regarding sovereignty.”  Nile Gardiner, the Telegraph’s Washington correspondent, wrote in response that the “Obama administration knife[d] Britain in the back again over the Falklands.”

The shabby treatment meted out to America’s “special relationship” partner in this instance cannot be seen as a surprise. It is in line with the administration’s treatment of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (at least prior to Bob Turner winning Anthony Weiner’s Congressional seat in New York). Poland and the Czech Republic suffered similar slights after the Administration unilaterally cancelled ABM sites in those countries as part of its naïve and, so far, unsuccessful attempt to “reset” relations with Russia.  And, there has been much criticism of the Administration for failing to provide Taiwan with the latest F-16 fighters that it has long requested to defend itself against a potential attack by China. There is no doubt that American allies such as Israel, Colombia, Georgia, Taiwan, the Gulf States and the Baltics, all of which live in dangerous neighborhoods, are watching the United States’ response to the Falklands row with concern.

Full article: Obama’s Falklands Failure (The Diplomat)