Falklands: Former Argentine senator calls for fresh talks with UK
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Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the Falklands 40 Margaret Thatcher Day Lecture that Britain will continue to “stand up to bullies” wherever in the world they happen to be situated. He said: “Our enemies should not doubt Britain’s determination to stand up to bullies, to defend those who cannot defend themselves and for our values.”
The lecture was hosted by the Policy Exchange and delivered by Lord Moore, official biographer of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Baroness Thatcher led Britain’s response to the invasion of the Falklands by Argentina.
According to Mr Wallace, this conflict still holds lessons for Britain’s actions on the international stage today.
He insisted: “Distance should not deter Britain [from standing up to ‘bullies’], nor will the scale of the challenge.
“History is littered with the consequences of those who underestimated this small island.
“General Galtieri was no different.”
In 1982, Leopoldo Galtieri, then the President of Argentina, ordered his country’s forces to invade the Falkland Islands, a UK territory.
But that was then. Speculation has arisen as to who – if anyone – Mr Wallace was referring to when speaking of the “enemy” today.
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It seems likely his words were targeted at Russia.
Moments before relaying the UK’s commitments to the Falklands, Mr Wallace highlighted his awareness of “the events in Europe this week”, referring to Russia’s positioning on the border of Ukraine.
He said: “Earlier I updated the House [of Commons] on our concern about Russia’s ongoing aggression towards Ukraine and simplistic efforts to distract attention with false claims and narratives about Nato expansionism.
“While we are hopeful for the best outcomes from this week’s diplomatic efforts, we should not be overly optimistic.”
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He added: “We must prepare for the worst.”
The Telegraph reported that Mr Wallace’s comments “appeared to be aimed squarely at Russia”.
But Clarín, reported to be Argentina’s largest newspaper, had other ideas.
It suggested this “interpretation” as false, and that Mr Wallace was thinking of Argentina, not Russia, when referring to Britain’s modern-day “enemies”.
Russia, it added, was merely “the UK’s old enemy”.
The alternative to both of these interpretations is that Mr Wallace had no specific enemy in mind but, rather, was talking more broadly about Britain’s readiness to stand in defence of itself and the Falklands should “enemies” – near of far – display aggression.
He said: “Threats to our country, our people, our allies and out territory come from any direction and at any time.
“We must always be ready and we must always invest in our armed forces over the long term.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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