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The Falkland Islands belong to Britain, but Argentina maintains the remote archipelago belongs to it, launching an invasion in 1982 which saw them defeated by a task force dispatched to the South Atlantic by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The election of President Alberto Fernandez has resulted in a more aggressive approach to asserting its claim, with three new laws related to the territories approved approved by the country’s Congress earlier this year.
Daniel Filmus, secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, set out his position on Twitter yesterday.
He hailed the legislation as one more step to “make progress in the defence of the heritage that belongs to 45 million Argentines”.
In a subsequent statement, Mr Filmust said the new laws “confirm the conviction that the fight for sovereignty over the Malvinas must be a State policy that transcends electoral calendars”.
He added: “The President has affirmed before the Legislative Assembly that ‘our common home also has a wound bleeding in the depths of our sovereign sentiment: the usurpation of the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands.”
Discussing the three pieces of legislation, he said: “First, the creation of the National Council for Matters Relating to the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands and corresponding maritime spaces, which will ensure state policies in the medium and long term. It will have representatives of the political opposition, from the academic and legal world, from the province of Tierra del Fuego and from former soldiers.”
Mr Filmus said the Council, to be be chaired by the President himself, “would be able to create medium and long-term policies that guarantee that the claim summons the support of all the nations of the world and puts an end to colonialism”.
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The modification of the fishing law will defend the fishing resources that belong to the 45 million Argentines
He also claimed the modification of the Federal Fishing Regime would “toughen the sanctions against vessels that fish illegally in maritime areas under Argentine jurisdiction or in waters where our country has sovereignty over marine resources, which includes the Malvinas Islands”.
Mr Filmus added: “The modification of the fishing law will defend the fishing resources that belong to the 45 million Argentines.”
He furthermore highlighted a bill relating to the demarcation of the outer limit of the Argentine Continental Shelf, which he said “strengthens sovereignty and legal security for the exploration and exploitation of the wealth that exists on our continental shelf.”
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Speaking with specific reference to fishing rights last month, Graham Pascoe, who has just published his book, Falklands Facts and Fallacies, said Argentina’s claims were “nonsense”.
Mr Pascoe said: “It’s not true that the fishing referred to in Falklands waters is “illegal”, as Argentina constantly asserts.
“The territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) belong to the coastal state, ie the Falklands, not Argentina.
“So it’s not illegal in international law, but only in Argentine national law.”
He added: “There is no depredation of the seas by the Falklanders Islanders.
“In fact, the Falklands fishery is one of the most strictly managed fisheries in the world and meets or exceeds all international environmental, sustainability and ecological standards.
“And that fishing is not basically done by the Falkland Islanders, but by foreign vessels (mainly Spanish, Korean and Taiwanese) holding licences from the Falkland Islands government.
“Only Falkland Islands regulations (laid down by the Falkland Islands Government) are enforced around the Falklands, and only British regulations are enforced around South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
“Argentina has no presence in those areas and exerts no enforcement.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)
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