In 2006 Carlos Ortiz de Rosas, one of the most prominent and world-respected Argentine diplomats, pondered as follows:
“…We will have to fight for a Nation that inspires confidence, enlisted in the world trends that set the course, with solid and respected institutions, with legal security, democratic stability and strong economic development. Then, with continuity in ideas, with perseverance and tenacity, our legitimate claim will end up prevailing as just causes always do…” (Carlos Ortiz de Rozas, Official British History on the Malvinas Islands: Critical Analysis. National Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, 2006, p. 42).
The previous paragraph tells us that, both in foreign policy and in its instrument, which is diplomacy, what really matters is what each actor does -be it a person or a government- to generate changes that improve their relative situation. It also points out that the circumstances must be created by us, as well as the initiative, never expecting it from the other part. This is why negotiation exists, which is the way that conflicts are not resolved by force. But the most experienced diplomats have learned from history that a negotiation, in principle, does not ensure 100 x 100 success. A negotiation, to be considered successful, always supposes a "compromise". That is, each negotiator satisfies, in part, the basis of their position. This is the only way to ensure the sustainability of the arrangement. Let each "actor" take something home. This does not mean "sleeping on the results" either. History indicates, and diplomats also know, that you always have to be on top of things. That there are no "saints" in the international system, and that the sleepy or distracted often have a stormy awakening.
The paragraph by Ortiz de Rozas quoted at the beginning (See also CARI. Malvinas, Georgias and Sandwich del Sur, Argentine Diplomacy at the United Nations, 1991/99. 2008) refers to the long and pendular negotiations between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands. Those negotiations were born auspiciously in 1965, more than fifty years ago. In that long period of time, the world changed substantially and also –whether we like it or not- have the interpretation and interrelation of the rules applicable to decolonization and territorial conflicts: "Interests", "self-determination", "peoples", "territorial integrity "," hearts and minds ", and so on. Hence, it is advisable to adapt the tactics, which in no way implies changing the objectives. It requires greater wisdom and less sterile conservatism that always takes refuge in the domestic sphere. This last behavior is seen as reflecting insecurity for an eventual, but necessary, face-to-face encounter. Fear of the negotiating table and the gaze of the other party who interrogates us with their eyes and asks: Where should we start from? But the one thing that should never change is the idea that approximation is always more useful than confrontation. The confrontation closes the roads, consolidates the status quo that, ultimately, favors the counterpart. When Argentina carried out a diplomacy of approximation (1972/1982) the Islands came under our factual control. Connectivity was an essential factor. At the United Nations they predicted that, once democracy returned, the long-awaited solution would gradually materialize. In the years of Cavallo / Di Tella / Rodríguez Giavarini, connectivity was once again a factor that actually tilted the situation, little by little, in favor of Argentina. All issues were discussed informally and "sovereignty" was never excluded. The British Vice Chancellor visited the Islands and declared: "There can be no transfer of sovereignty by force... a discussion could be seen in the future... but never by force..." (Penguin News, July 1993). Obviously the connectivity, the good bilateral relations and the friendly disposition towards the islanders, helped the context. The tough Islanders said that Argentines are truly dangerous when they are reasonable. During the negotiations of foreign ministers Malcorra/Faurie; Theresa May, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, sent a letter to Mauricio Macri admitting the differences (dispute) and proposing specific topics for discussion. Vice Chancellor Duncan came to Buenos Aires and issued jointly with the Argentine Vice, Ambassador Foradori, a statement that established reciprocal obligations. The opposition criticized him harshly but without foundation, ignoring that concrete results require time and continuity. The same as in the economy and investments. We act as if, once again, we were afraid to face reality to advance paving the coincidences. The fear of facing the other party from the convergences returned. We went back to hiding inside the house.
Now, systemic changes can help but never replace what it is up to us to do. Neither the opinion of the International Court of Justice in the Chagos case is so "favorable" (An ICJ jurist very close to Argentina argued that self-determination is an individual human right), nor will Brexit make the United Kingdom a country less gravitating. The opposite is probable. Let's review British history. But Brexit seems to boost London's idea of a trade deal with Mercosur. The Foreign Office is not unaware that such an agreement would bring the Malvinas issue to the negotiating board again. It does not ignore it. Its decisions and actions are always intentional.
Back to Ortiz de Rozas, a few days ago a prominent economist, Remes Lenicov, agreed by stating, like many, that legal security must be generated to attract capital and create genuine employment, without wringing the productive sector (misnamed "private sector"). In economics, as in foreign policy, one has to assume reality and work on it, looking at the world. It is only up to us.
Ambassador Fernando Petrella is a lawyer. Public Notary (UBA), Master in Public Policy (Johns Hopkins University). He was Undersecretary of Foreign Relations, Vice Chancellor, Ambassador at the United Nations, Director of the Institute for Foreign Service of the Nation (ISEN). CARI member. ISEN Professor and Visiting Professor at the Universities of Córdoba and Austral.