Argentina’s President risks FURY with 'historic' event on long-term Falkland Islands plan

Argentina’s President risks FURY with 'historic' event on long-term Falkland Islands plan

ARGENTINA's President Alberto Fernandez is stepping up the pressure in his Falklands sovereignty push tomorrow with the first meeting of the newly convened Malvinas National Council intended to put the issue on the agenda.

And Daniel Filmus, Argentina's Secretary for Matters Relating to the Falkland Islands, claimed the "historic" event would underline how seriously his country was prepared to push its claim to the remote archipelago in the south Atlantic - while taking a swipe at the UK. Mr Filmus confirmed Mr Fernandez, who was elected last year, will lead the meeting during a conference call with journalists.

He said: "Two hundred years after our country's takeover of the Malvinas, the National Council will meet for the first time that same day in the afternoon.

"Friday is going to be an historic day in which the Council will begin to debate state policies and medium and long-term strategies on the Malvinas issue, not tied to electoral calendars."

The meeting is choreographed to coincide with a controversial ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the first time the Argentinian flag was raised on the islands in 1820 by David Jewett, commander of the Argentine navy.

Mr Fernandez's flag-waving ceremony will be broadcast live across the nation.

The move is regarded as highly provocative among islanders themselves, coming barely two years before the 40th anniversary of Argentina's invasion of the Falklands in 1982.

The council will also include representatives of the parliamentary political opposition, the academic and legal world, the province of Tierra del Fuego as well as former soldiers.

Mr Filmus told reporters Argentina would not embark upon "any strategy that involves violence", recalling that "the very Argentine Constitution voted in 1994 establishes that the claims will be through peaceful and diplomatic channels".

However, he added: "We have set ourselves in this Government to insist on the issue of sovereignty and the call for dialogue with the UK in all the forums and organisations in which we have participation as a country, be it the UN, the OAS, Mercosur and so many others."

Mr Filmus also emphasised the importance of a "consensus" achieved in the National Congress with the other two laws intended to "guarantee territorial sovereignty and defend the natural resources of the 45 million Argentine men and women".

The legislation, ratified earlier this year, seeks to establish the outer limit of Argentina's continental shelf and raise the penalties and fines for those who exercise what it claims to be "illegal" fishing in Argentine waters - although Argentinian laws have no jurisdiction in the Falklands, which is a British Overseas Territory.

Referring to the British garrison on the Falklands, Mr Filmus said: "Argentina together with all the countries with coasts on the South Atlantic (three from America and 23 from Africa), considers it an unnecessary provocation for Great Britain to maintain a military base of that magnitude in an area, considered by us, a peace zone."

His mention of other nations is a likely reference to a resolution passed by the C-24 committee of the United Nations earlier this year calling for the resumption of sovereignty talks.

Argentina has frequently sought to use the UN as a vehicle for its ambitions, and Mr Fernandez raised the issue during his speech to the United Nations general assembly in September.

In response, Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories, told Express.co.uk: "For Argentina, where there is currently a nationwide quarantine until October 11, and where 470 deaths were tragically recorded on Tuesday, the speech of their President should have been particularly important.

"Unfortunately and inexplicably, President Alberto Fernandez used some of his precious time at the electronic podium talking about the Falkland Islands, in a foolish attempt to distract from the enormous problems he faces at home.

"The UK Government is absolutely clear that the future of the Falkland Islands is up to the people of the Falkland Islands.

"In 2013, the Falkland Islands emphatically told the Argentinian government that they are proud to be British and intend to remain British.

"On a turnout of 92 percent, just three people voted against remaining as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

"It is unbelievably boring to have to continuously remind the Argentinian government of this basic, democratic right to self-determination."

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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