'We'll be running Falklands within 20 years': Argentine foreign minister expects to remove 'Las Malvinas' from British control soon

Hector Timerman accuses Britain of militarising the South Atlantic in a grab for oil and natural resources

Argentina expects to remove the Falkland Islands from British control within 20 years, the country’s foreign minister has told The Independent.

Hector Timerman, who is visiting London, said the tide of international opinion was against Britain and pointedly ruled out any need to persuade the islands’ 3,000 British citizens of his country’s claim on “Las Malvinas”.

He accused Britain of militarising the South Atlantic in a grab for oil and natural resources.

In uncompromising language which continues Argentina’s recent attempts to force the sovereignty of the Falklands up the international agenda, the foreign minister demanded face to face talks between London and Buenos Aires - adding that next month’s referendum on the islands British status “doesn’t mean anything”.

Mr Timerman last week rejected the offer of talks with William Hague after the Foreign Secretary insisted that representatives of the Falklands’ government should also be present. He is now not expected to meet any Government ministers during his visit.

Speaking at the Argentine embassy in central London, Mr Timerman refused to discuss whether the diplomatic package he wants to offer Mr Hague would include a proposal for joint sovereignty and said he believed Britain would soon be forced to reach an agreement satisfying his country’s requirements on the islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina.

The Argentine foreign minister said: “I don’t think it will take another 20 years. I think that the world is going through a process of understanding more and more that this is a colonial issue, an issue of colonialism... We don’t  support the occupation of foreign lands, and the Malvinas case is the occupation of a foreign land.”

Mr Timerman said Argentina would “respect the rights” of the Falklanders but insisted the country had no need to persuade the islanders of the rectitude of its claims on their territory.

He said: “I don’t have to persuade them. The United Nations says there is a conflict between the United Kingdom and Argentina. I don’t have to persuade anybody. We have to apply international law and accept the resolutions; if not the UN becomes a body that is only useful when it backs the powerful.”

The foreign minister brushed aside any significance in the referendum scheduled next month by the Port Stanley government to ask Falklanders if they wish to remain British, adding that Argentina intended to accommodate the “interests but not the wishes” of its population.

In the joint interview with The Independent and The Guardian, he said: “There is a difference between interests and wishes. The people living in the Malvinas will have their interests taken into consideration, but not their wishes. That is what the United Nations has said, many times.”

Anglo-Argentine relations are at their lowest ebb for many years following the passing last year of the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War in 1982, which saw the deaths of 258 British soldiers and 649 Argentinians after a naval task force was sent 8,000 miles across the Atlantic to expel an Argentine invasion.

The discovery of oil and an announcement last month that a liquid gas find off the islands is also commercially viable has exacerbated tensions between the two countries.

In an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron last month, published to coincide with the 180th anniversary of the Royal Navy’s arrival on the Falklands, Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, called on Britain to “negotiate a solution” to the sovereignty dispute as demanded in a 1965 UN resolution.

Accusing Britain of increasing “isolationism”, Mr Timerman said Argentina had renounced any intention to re-take the Falklands by force and questioned the United Kingdom’s motives for continuing to station a large garrison on the islands, placed there to deter any Argentine attack.

Rejecting comments attributed last week to a British Government source that Argentina had become “a bit fanatical” in its pursuit of the Falklands issue, he said: “We have been trying to find a peaceful solution for 180 years. I think the fanatics are not in Buenos Aires, [but] maybe in the United Kingdom because they are 14,000 kilometres away from the islands.

“I think they are using the people living in the islands for political [purposes] and to have access to oil and natural resources which belong to the Argentine people.”

The Foreign Office today reiterated its position that it was “right and proper” for Falklanders to be involved in any discussions about the islands between London and Buenos Aires. Britain has long insisted there will be no change to the sovereignty of the Falklands “unless and until the islanders so wish”.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter. This is a fundamental human right for all peoples.

"As such, there can be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands unless and until such time as the Islanders so wish.

"The UK has administered the Falklands peacefully and effectively for nearly 180 years. 

"We want to have a full and friendly relationship with Argentina, as neighbours in the South Atlantic and as responsible fellow members of the G20, but we will not negotiate away the human and political rights of the Falkland Islands' people against their will or behind their backs."

Voices
voices
News
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
newsBumping fists rather than shaking hands could reduce the spread of infectious diseases, it is claimed
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
newsHad asteroid hit earlier or later in history, the creatures might have survived, say scientists
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
arts + ents
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth GamesJust 48 hours earlier cyclist was under the care of a doctor
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
arts + entsFilmmaker posted a picture of Israeli actress Gal Gadot on Twitter
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel
arts + entsPrince Oberyn nearly sets himself on fire with a flaming torch
News
Danny Nickerson, 6, has received 15,000 cards and presents from well-wishers around the world
newsDanny loves to see his name on paper, so his mother put out a request for cards - it went viral
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
News
Orville and Keith Harris. He covered up his condition by getting people to read out scripts to him
People
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana stars in this summer's big hope Guardians of the Galaxy
filmHollywood's summer blockbusters are no longer money-spinners
Arts and Entertainment
O'Shaughnessy pictured at the Unicorn Theatre in London
tvFiona O'Shaughnessy explains where she ends and her strange and wonderful character begins
Life and Style
Workers in Seattle are paid 100 times as much as workers in Bangladesh
fashionSeattle company lets customers create their own clothes, then click 'buy' and wait for delivery
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Year 5 Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wo...

Training/Learning and Development Coordinator -London

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Training/Learning and Development Co...

Training Programme Manager (Learning and Development)-London

£28000 - £32000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manage...

Senior Marketing Executive (B2B/B2C) - London

£32000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried