By Micaela Constantini *
On November 23, the agreement was ratified between the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Ministry of Defense, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, for the deployment of personnel from the Security Forces of Kosovo (KSF) to the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands to the Roulement Infantry Company.
The proposal/decision, presented and explained in the Assembly by the Kosovar Prime Minister, Albin Kurti, was approved at the “109th meeting of the Government of Kosovo”, under Decision No.08,/109. After the presentation of the report, with the recommendations of the Security and Defense Committee, the Assembly decided, with 77 votes in favor, to send the KSF mission abroad.
On that way, with British endorsement, Kosovo will send a KSF contingent to the Malvinas Islands under the label of a “peace support operation”. According to the statement issued at the “110th meeting of the Kosovar Government”, “the KSF mission will support peace in the Malvinas Islands and will be subject to the agreement signed with the United Kingdom. Up to 7 KSF members will be sent on this mission and which can can last up to three years with the possibility of extension. The KSF will be under the command of the Armed Forces of the host country and will be financially covered by the Budget of the Republic of Kosovo”.
This decision occurs in a context of increased tensions with Serbia; a deepening of the militarization of NATO in Kosovo and in Europe; Kosovo’s attempt to join the EU; the advancement of UK interests under its ‘Global Britain ‘ project in both Eastern Europe and the South Atlantic; 57 years after the adoption of resolution 2065 (XX) of the UN General Assembly; and the desperate search of Western Atlanticism to hegemonize and subdue all of Europe and cut off any possible path of relations between Russia/China and Europe. On this last point, the Western Balkans and Serbia in particular are extremely important.
But the most important point that we will deal with in this article is the geostrategic and geopolitical importance of the Malvinas Islands and the South Atlantic for Great Britain as an international power that disputes hegemony in the face of the transformation to a multipolar world.
The Argentine Foreign Ministry issued a statement on December 1, where it “absolutely rejects the intention to send new military troops to the Malvinas Islands, an Argentine territory illegally occupied by the United Kingdom. This deployment constitutes an unjustified show of force and a deliberate departure of the calls of numerous international resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations and other international forums that urge both Argentina and the United Kingdom to resume negotiations, in order to find a peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute that involves both countries in the Question of the Malvinas Islands”.
Specifically, Argentina “rejects the supposed character of a ‘peace mission’ that is intended to be given to military activity” since “it is totally unjustified” and shows the British intention to militarize the South Atlantic.
In the statement, Argentina explains that “the sending of Kosovar “Security Forces” to the South Atlantic specifically contravenes resolution 31/49 of the United Nations General Assembly that urges both parties (Argentina and the United Kingdom) to refrain from adopting unilateral decisions that entail the introduction of changes in the situation while the Islands are going through the negotiation process recommended by the same Assembly”.
In addition, “this new military presence in the South Atlantic also contradicts General Assembly resolution 41/11 (Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic) which, among other provisions, urges the States of all other regions, especially the militarily important States, to scrupulously respect the South Atlantic region as a zone of peace and cooperation, particularly through the reduction and eventual elimination of their military presence in this region”.
Facundo Rodriguez, lawyer of international law, Master in international relations and professor, recalls that the United Kingdom would also be violating resolution 2621 (XXV) of the UN General Assembly that “urges all State Parties to condemn and oppose the activities and military arrangements of the colonial powers, since they constitute an obstacle to the decolonization process”.
Argentina, along with 60% of the countries that make up the UN, does not recognize the declaration of independence by the Parliament of Kosovo in February 2008. The non-recognition of Kosovo by the country of Our America is explained by the importance that this country gives resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council of 1999, which highlights the principle of territorial integrity and the solution of disputes through a negotiated and mutually accepted agreement by the parties involved, principles that are relevant to the issue of the Malvinas Islands.
Besides, according to another statement issued on December 8 (no longer available on the official website of the Foreign Ministry), Argentina summoned on December 6 the Ambassador of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Buenos Aires, Kirsty Hayes, to convey the rejection of the Argentine government to introduce new military actors in the Malvinas Islands and the protest against the departure from the calls of numerous resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations and other international forums.
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) also rejected the agreement between the United Kingdom and Kosovo to send members of the Kosovo Security Force to the Malvinas, calling it an “unjustified provocation.”
The new attempt at British militarization of the Malvinas Islands, violating the agreements and resolutions of the United Nations, is carried out 57 years after the adoption of resolution 2065 (XX), the first referred exclusively to the Malvinas Question, in which it is recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom and both countries are invited to negotiate to find a peaceful solution to the controversy.
Resolution 2065 (XX) is established five years after Resolution 1514 (XV) on the “Declaration on the granting of independence to colonial countries and peoples” which establishes “the need to put an end, quickly and unconditionally, to colonialism in all its forms and manifestations. For this reason, among the main elements of Resolution 2065 (XX) it is established that the case of the Malvinas Islands is one of the forms of colonialism that must be ended.
It is striking that a member of the “western democratic community” champion of the order based on norms and values is the one who violates and turns a blind eye to the resolutions of the international organization of the United Nations.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Serbia also ‘protested’ against the agreement. They articulated being “surprised” that “such a step comes from a permanent member of the Security Council which, as is known, is the highest UN body in charge of preserving international peace and security.”
In addition, the Balkan country warns the international community that the Kosovar decision supported by other countries feeds the process of militarization of the ‘Kosovo Security Forces’ with the aim of achieving the offensive operational capabilities of the aforementioned forces in the military sense.
Finally, Serbia also protests against the violation and contradiction of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999) on Kosovo and Metohija, as well as the relevant resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the peaceful settlement of the Malvinas Islands dispute.
Kosovo and NATO
In a previous article we analyzed some essential points of the historical processes of Serbia and Kosovo, and of the main actors involved, to understand the current tensions between the two. PIA Global had spoken with Guillermo Caviasca*, who made an exhaustive tour of the processes, which I invite readers to read.
Here we will focus on the role of the international actors involved, especially NATO. Two days after the United Nations Security Council approved resolution 1244 in 1999 after the end of the war, NATO entered Kosovar territory under the label of KFOR (Kosovo Force) with the objective of “maintaining order and security in Kosovo and ensuring the points agreed in the peace agreement and providing assistance to the program of the UN mission in Kosovo (UNMIK)”.
“Although it seems like something very small, the occupation of Kosovo, the installation of a NATO protectorate in that area that would keep an undisciplined actor in Western strategy such as Serbia disciplined, had the objective of eliminating any possibility of development as independent actors towards what was the old Russian space, the old Soviet space or its allies”, Caviasca explained.
Since then, Kosovo has developed a strong interest in NATO to the point that, among the main objectives of the Kosovar government are the Euro-Atlantic integration, a UN and NATO membership, and to build a modern army on the model of NATO. They have even participated in missions with NATO members like last year, when the Kosovo Security Forces served in Kuwait alongside the US military.
Besides explains international politics analyst Pablo Jofré Leal: “Kosovo hosts the Bondsteel Military Camp, one of the largest and most expensive military bases built by the United States. The reality of building Camp Bondsteel is not exclusively about Kosovo and NATO. There are geostrategic interests related to the Balkans, Western Asia and Russia’s western border. Let’s remember that the base is located in an area without supplies for planes heading to Western Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. In this way, vital oil pipelines and energy corridors can be controlled, such as the Transbalkan oil pipeline, where US multinationals such as Halliburton have a presence and interests.”
The last significant – and not occasional – event, regarding NATO’s intervention in Kosovo occurred a few days ago when the Atlantic Alliance announced that it would carry out military exercises near its base in Novo Selo. This is no coincidence because this action was decided upon just when the tensions between Serbia and Kosovo that we will review below were triggered.
Increased tensions between Serbia and Kosovo
Tensions between Serbia and Kosovo have been going on for years and their intensity has varied over time. Confrontations have developed but also negotiations and agreements with countries and external institutions as mediators.
Since last year, and especially in the middle of this year, tensions have increased after the Pristina authorities announced that they would prohibit the use of Serbian license plates (plates or vehicle patents) and documents in Kosovar territory. These tensions were momentarily appeased after a series of consultations of Pristina with the EU and US ambassadors. However, in recent weeks the situation has escalated seriously.
In mid-December, ethnic Albanian officials who support Pristina seized the largest Serb municipality in northern Kosovo. As reported by RT, the Serb officials who resigned in protest last month were replaced by a new North Mitrovica municipal council who were sworn in accompanied by an armed police guard. Besides, KFOR forces were outside the building.
This event occurred on the very same day that the Kosovo government decided to apply for EU membership, although Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia and Spain still do not recognize Kosovo’s independence.
From Serbia, they argued that the measure to form a new Council is equivalent to ethnic cleansing. The Serbian government commissioner for Kosovo, Petar Petkovic, said the step constitutes “a violation of all agreements, including Pristina’s own laws. No one elected or voted for the new members of the Council”.
The Serbian government decided to send a request to KFOR to deploy up to 1,000 Serbian soldiers and policemen into the conflict region, in compliance with UN Security Council resolution 1244. This resolution permits Belgrade to send its military and police personnel to Kosovo in certain situations.
And although it is an obligation for KFOR, the Serbian president knows in advance that the request will be rejected, so he “has no illusions.” The US special envoy for Kosovo, Gabriel Escobar, said that Washington “categorically” opposes the return of some Serbian security forces to the province, also citing UNSCR 1244.
For Caviasca, NATO and the US use forms of warfare such as “escalating conflicts that were never solved, such as the conflict in Kosovo; creating some new escalations between Azerbaijan and Armenia; conflicts that can occur in different places; the latest US provocation in Taiwan; the AUKUS alliance and the attempt to strategically encircle and contain China to prevent it from leaving the Chinese Inland Sea; and in the Balkans something similar”.
In fact, in the British report Global Britain in a competitive age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, it is explicit stated that because there will be an “increase in conflict and instability driven by systemic competition, external powers will likely remain involved in national and regional conflicts, influencing their course for their own benefit. This will increase the risk of conflicts escalating.”
Although the decision of the powers to train forces of allied or partner countries by taking them to their territories is not new, the decisions regarding the chosen actors and territories are not accidental.
The common point between Kosovo and Argentina, in this situation, is the United Kingdom. Kosovo is interested in being part of any platform, agreement or project dictated by the Anglo-Saxon bloc of the West (USA/ UK /NATO), especially when it comes to military training and international recognition as an independent country.
It is in the interest of the UK to have close relations to and a presence in Kosovo, as the country is a NATO protectorate geopolitically positioned as a bridge between Asia and Western Europe, ready to be used as a destabilization tool.
But the United Kingdom is also interested in consolidating its presence in the South Atlantic. It is key to understand this point as part of the international context of the dispute over the reconfiguration of the world order system, where there is a clear decline of the Western Anglo-Saxon bloc as leaders of unipolarism against the advance of the multipolar bloc led by Russia and China.
To deepen this analysis, PIA Global spoke with Guillermo Caviasca* and Julián Bilmes** .
In his work entitled “Malvinas versus Brexit and the global geopolitical dispute: threats and opportunities for the Argentine claim”, Bilmes explained that “the islands and maritime spaces of the South Western Atlantic and Antarctica are not alien to this process, given their great geostrategic relevance, in economic, geopolitical and military terms”. For Caviasca, “England, as one of the main players in the world order, will not give up part of its key places that allow it to deploy as a power in the world such as the South Atlantic.”
“What is central to British nationalist claims is its own projection of power in order to invigorate its export, military-industrial and scientific-technological complexes on other territories, to preserve its role as a ‘global player’ in the face of the geopolitical transition of this 21st century, pointing to their historical spheres of influence. That is the essential role of the 14 British overseas territories, the dependencies of the British Crown and the Commonwealth of Nations”, Bilmes explained.
For Bilmes, England’s decision on British militarization in the South Atlantic region is key, but not new, since this progress has been constantly going on for several years. The specialist highlights the position of the Malvinas as an imperial military colonial enclave where we can find the Mount Pleasant (Monte Agradable in Argentine Spanish) Military Complex and the Fourth Fleet of the United States Navy, responsible for all operations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
As detailed from the Center for Latin American Integration Studies “Manuel Ugarte”, “the complex of British military bases Mount Pleasant Complex (Mount Pleasant in Argentine toponymy) is the most important military center in all of Latin America and integrates the global security device set up by NATO, which shows the strategic relevance that the British and their allies give to the South Atlantic”.
It has a naval base, an air base and a missile launch base, in addition to the communications and monitoring center. With “2,500 soldiers and almost 400 civilians, it forms a series or ‘pearl necklace’ with the bases of Ascensión, Tristán da Cunha and Santa Helena, which together with the Diego García base in the Indian Ocean act as a military control tripod for the double Indian-Atlantic and Atlantic-Pacific oceanic confluence.
According to Caviasca, although it is surprising that it is about Kosovo, the intention of the United Kingdom should not surprise since once again “they seek to demonstrate that they have control over the territory, that they exercise sovereignty. We should not be surprised at all by the presence of forces from a NATO enclave training in the Malvinas”.
Caviasca explains that for the British, “Malvinas is, in strictly technical aspects, a wide and safe territory where military training can be carried out. They are large islands with very important maritime and airspace that no one disputes in real terms. In fact, Malvinas has been used repeatedly to acclimatize troops to go to other combat scenarios.
“The English do not stop advancing in the consolidation of their presence in the Malvinas.”
The Manuel Ugarte Center shows in detail in the following map how “since 1982, Great Britain continues to arbitrarily and unilaterally expand the usurped area (…) exploiting its fishing and hydrocarbon resources “.
In an interview with PIA Global and United World International, the Secretary of State for the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic, Guillermo Carmona, had confirmed that “the files that have been declassified by the United Kingdom show that, during the Falklands War, London decided to deploy nuclear weapons on the islands”.
“There are 31 depth bombs with equivalent nuclear charge, whose destructive power is equal to 15 or more than that of the Hiroshima bomb,” the official said.
He also made it clear that currently “the United Kingdom continues to militarize part of the Argentine territory” and that “with ‘Global Britain ‘ the United Kingdom tries to revive imperialist traditions” pretending “to play a role in maintaining colonialism, in what considered overseas territories, is one of the key elements”.
In addition to the importance of the military geostrategic potential of the Malvinas Islands and the South Atlantic region, it is also “an immense region in which the Malvinas act as a “pivot” between vast maritime, insular and continental spaces, rich in fish resources and hydrocarbons and other strategic resources”, they explain from the Manuel Ugarte Center.
“Thinking about the Malvinas from this perspective allows us to account for the geopolitical crossroads in which the southernmost region of South America is going through in a context of depletion of reserves on a planetary scale. It allows us to understand the structural reasons from which a world power is willing to defend the vestiges of its “perished” colonial rule.
Another key point highlighted by the Center is the geographical location of the Malvinas Islands, which “is close to spaces coveted by world hegemonic powers, particularly the Strait of Magellan”, which functions as an interoceanic corridor between the Atlantic and the Peaceful. The current geostrategic importance of the Strait of Magellan is emphasized given the possibility of “an eventual closure of the Panama Canal, in a context of growing conflict between the US and the China-Russia block”, leaving it as the only option for a bi-oceanic corridor.
It also highlights “the proximity of the so-called Antarctic confluence”, which endows the region with “remarkable bio-geographical wealth, fish farming potential, with waters rich in nutrients and ecologically very productive”. In addition, the Malvinas Islands are very close to the Antarctic continent which, according to the Center, “homes around 80% of the planet’s fresh water and concentrates reserves of coal, oil, iron and other minerals.”
What are the intentions for which the United Kingdom chooses the Malvinas as a military training territory for the Kosovars? Caviasca responds, “England has been advancing with a very coherent policy (since before the war, to try to avoid compliance with the different resolutions, specifically from the Madrid Agreements of 1989/90) to advance in the consolidation of its presence in the South Atlantic. It has done it and it does it, it does not stop advancing ”.
“The decision to bring in forces from “other States” (in quotes because Kosovo is not recognized as independent state) is a chance for the British to show that they have control of the territory, that they exercise sovereignty over the territory, even though it is not recognized, they actually do it. They show that we (Argentina) cannot do anything to avoid it,” Caviasca stated.
The analyst explained that Argentina reduced the capacity for action to diplomatic declarations, that it explicitly renounced the use of force, even hypothetically or symbolically, and cannot even express any type of significant economic retaliation against the United Kingdom.
“We (Argentina) with the political decisions that we have been making, show the world a very big contradiction between what we say, what we think and what we do. We say we want to consolidate our sovereignty in the South Atlantic, make it effective, but both economically and militarily we act against it. That Argentine decision should worry us. It should scare us even more that Argentina cannot have its own fishing industry, that it does not have serious combat planes capable of flying to imply a type of hypothetical challenge to the British presence in the region. If we don’t have that, little pieces of paper in the Foreign Ministry are not going to get us anywhere,” the analyst concluded.
*Guillermo Martin Caviasca, Argentina. Dr. in history, UBA/UNLP teacher and researcher, author of books and articles on Argentine history, military history, geopolitics and international relations.
** Julián Bilmes, Argentina (IdIHCS -UNLP-CONICET). Research Team on the Malvinas Question (EdICMa ) at the Malvinas Institute of the UNLP – Network of Researchers on the Malvinas Question ( RedICMa ). UNLP Research and Development Project (H822) “The South Atlantic and its relations with other regions of global geopolitical interest. Case studies against the current hegemonic tendencies”.
* Constantini Micaela is journalist and part of the PIA Global team. This article was previously published in spanish by Pia Global. Translation by UWI.