Government investigates stop of British military flights in Brazil
Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes said Brazil is investigating the landing of 18 British military aircraft heading to the Falkland Islands. The archipelago in the South Atlantic is disputed between the United Kingdom and Argentina, which claims its sovereignty over the islands.
"We are checking [these landings] and reviewing all the procedures that authorized these flights, in order to make them more rigorous and transparent," the foreign minister said in an interview at the end of his visit to Buenos Aires on Thursday (Mar. 9).
Earlier this month, the Argentine government expressed concern about the 18 British military aircraft flying to the Falkland Islands that made refueling stops in Brazil in 2015 and 2016. In the statement, they pointed out the commitment made by the other MERCOSUR members (Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) to prevent the landing of United Kingdom warplanes heading to the archipelago under dispute. The only exception would be made in an emergency situation or for humanitarian reasons.
Argentine Minister for Foreign Relations Susana Malcorra said the "complaint persists," but she had not addressed the issue with Aloysio Nunes during their bilateral meeting in Buenos Aires. The minister assured that there is no "crisis" between both countries, since Brazil follows its support policy on the Argentine claim over the sovereignty of the islands. "The criterion used to authorize the flights—which is for emergency and humanitarian reasons—has not changed. We are just checking the procedures," he said. Before traveling back to Brasília, the minister was welcomed by Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
Aloysio Nunes came to Buenos Aires, his first international trip after he took office earlier this week, to attend a meeting of MERCOSUR foreign ministers. They have mainly discussed the free trade agreement being negotiated between the regional bloc and the 28 European Union countries. The foreign ministers from both countries agreed that it is necessary to quickly promote MERCOSUR's integration with other economic and commercial blocs.
They have also discussed Venezuela's situation, as the country has been suspended from MERCOSUR until it adheres to all the rules of integration. "We cannot estimate how long this situation will last, but we also talked about our concern for [Venezuelan's] democratic situation," said Aloysio Nunes, adding that Venezuela's government is not in line with other MERCOSUR members who have "a convergence of views on the concept of free trade, movement of people, democratic freedoms, legal certainty."
Operation Car Wash
In the minister's view, the Brazilian economic crisis and the investigations of Operation Car Wash have not harmed Brazil's performance before the international community. "These complicated issues show that Brazil's institutions are working. It has investigations, it has courts; our prosecution office is working and we are being forced to change our political customs," he said. "All this is a sign of Brazil's health and democratic vitality," he added. Concerning the economy, he said that there are signs of recovery and that the country is currently "following a course."
Translated by Amarílis Anchieta