Argentina talks tough over new claim to the Falkland Islands

Falklands War II is on the horizon.

The Times June 27, 2006

Argentina talks tough over new claim to the Falkland Islands
From Fiona McCann in Buenos Aires

ARGENTINA has given a warning of “a drastic change” in its quest for sovereignty over the Falklands. It has also accused Britain of bad faith for failing to enter substantive talks on the future of the islands over which the two countries went to war 24 years ago.
The Government of Nestor Kirchner has indicated that it will take a hardline approach on issues such as fishing and oil exploration rights in pressing Argentina’s claim to the South Atlantic islands — a move that marks a significant deterioration in relations with Britain.

More than a thousand people died in the conflict that followed Argentina’s invasion of the islands in 1982. Margaret Thatcher sent a naval taskforce to the South Atlantic and the three-month conflict ended with Argentina’s surrender on June 14. Yesterday Britain announced plans for a “major celebration” to mark the 25th anniversary of the liberation next year. That is likely to include a service of remembrance at the islands’ capital, Port Stanley.

Argentina’s tougher approach to the sovereignty issue will cast doubts on moves to improve relations between Buenos Aires and Port Stanley. Argentina, which has blocked attempts to set up extra charter flights to the islands, is likely also to restrict co-operation on fishing and oil exploration.

Señor Kirchner, who is expected to win re-election next year, has told ministers that he will abandon the so-called “sovereignty umbrella” agreed by former President Menem, under which Argentina agreed to set aside claims over the Falklands to facilitate accords on fishing, oil exploration and transport. Señor Menem and Guido Di Tella, his Foreign Minister, had sought to eradicate the legacy of Argentina’s military dictatorship and the invasion to gain the goodwill of the islanders.

But Buenos Aires has grown impatient with London’s refusal to enter negotiations over sovereignty, believing that Britain has abused its position to exploit fishing rights at the expense of Argentine trawlers.

Of particular concern to the Argentinians was the extension of British-issued fishing licences, some of which will be valid for up to 25 years after they are renewed next month.

Now Argentina is preparing to embark on a public relations offensive to win support for its claim to the islands it knows as Las Malvinas. On Thursday Señor Kirchner will launch a parliamentary commission on the Falklands, to comprise politicians and academics. The commission, which enjoys crossparty support, will be charged with developing the sovereignty claim and promoting the cause abroad.

Diplomats have been instructed to make the Falklands a priority, helping to keep the claim prominent on international agendas. They will present foreign counterparts with a DVD setting out the claim and Britain’s “non-fulfilment” of agreements established at the end of the conflict. But last night the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that Britain’s position towards the disputed islands would not be swayed by the initiative.

“The UK will not negotiate on sovereignty unless and until the islanders wish it,” a spokesman said. “We remain committed to co-operation work on a bilateral agenda to the benefit of all, including Argentina.”

Last month Howard Pearce, the Governor of the Falklands, said that those living on the islands were still committed to remaining part of the UK. In his annual address he said: “Pressure (from Argentina) will prove utterly counter-productive. Falkland islanders are united in their wish to remain British.”

But the Argentine Government rejects the claim that the islanders have a right to self-determination. Jorge Taiana, the Foreign Minister, contends that they had been “planted” on what he called “sovereign Argentine territory”.

Earlier this month Señor Taiana spoke before the UN’s Decolonisation Committee, pushing for the ratification of a resolution calling for sovereignty negotiations to be resumed.

He said that Argentina was prepared to co-operate with Britain on practical issues as long as it created the conditions to resume sovereignty negotiations.

The committee unanimously approved a resolution from Chile insisting that Britain should resume negotiations, and renewed its support for the UN Secretary-General to embark on a goodwill mission between the two countries.

Yesterday the British Embassy in Buenos Aires declined to comment on reports that Argentina was reformulating its policy on the islands. “It is up to the Argentine Government to comment on whether these media reports are true,” the spokesman said.

The policy shift by Señor Kirchner’s Government comes as campaigning kicks off for the 2007 presidential elections.

Señor Kirchner, whose populist policies have garnered him record approval ratings since he took power in 2002, has consistently affirmed Argentina’s claim to the Falklands. He raised the issue with Tony Blair as far back as 2003.

1690 First British landing, headed by Captain Strong; islands named after Lord Falkland (at a time when Argentina didn't exist)

1820 The United Provinces of Rio del Plata (later Argentina and Uruguay), take possession of islands despite British sovereignty claims

1833 British warships regain the Falklands

1965 UN passes resolution calling for peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute

1980 Talks break down, with islanders rejecting a compromise solution

1982 The Falklands conflict, Argentine invasion of the Falklands defeated by British forces

1989 Diplomatic relations restored under newly elected Argentine President Carlos Menem

2001 Tony Blair is first British Prime Minister to visit Argentina since the conflict
Come on, Argies. Declare war on us. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough.
I don't think this will heat up into another conflic. At least I hope it doesn't.
Is there another economic crisis coming in Argentina the administration needs to deflect attention from?
The Times June 27, 2006

Fight over islands is campaign fodder
Foreign Editor's Briefing by Bronwen Maddox

ARGENTINA has picked a better moment than in the past to reopen its case for the Falklands.

The declaration of a new “hardline” approach to the dispute has not come as a complete surprise, a year before presidential elections. But all the same, no obvious resolution is in sight. If anything, Argentina has made that less likely, in jettisoning its previous policy of “seduction” of the islanders. A fortnight ago Argentina formally asked Britain to reopen talks on the islands’ sovereignty in a speech to the United Nations decolonisation committee in New York.

Why now? One easy explanation is that President Kirchner wants to use it as part of his campaign for re-election in the October 2007 polls.

That is no doubt right, although the politics behind it are complicated. Since Kirchner came to power in 2003 he has tried to purge the military of those implicated in the “dirty war” waged by the junta which ruled from 1976 to 1983, falling a year after the Falklands conflict.

In particular, the Supreme Court has quashed laws granting military officers immunity for their actions in that period.That has proved hugely popular with Kirchner’s left-wing base. But it has triggered protests, even threats, from the armed forces. Some opposition leaders also accuse him of dwelling too much on the past — not the quality Argentina most needs in its leader.

Kirchner is gambling, however, that the mood internationally has swung in his favour — and he may be right. He may have reckoned that Britain has lost a level of support in the UN from its action in Iraq.

The US-led invasion has turned the mood of the UN General Assembly even more against “colonial” adventures than it was 24 years ago, if that is possible. At the same time, Latin American leaders are riding high on a new wave of left-wing populism.

On a practical note, he will also have noticed that British troops are tied up in Iraq and Afghanistan. The timing of Argentina’s move shows how Iraq now contaminates parts of British foreign policy that appear to be entirely unrelated.

But if Argentina’s timing is good, does that mean it will now get somewhere? Probably not. The most that the UN committee seems likely to do, judging by its comments this summer, is to urge Britain and Argentina to reopen talks to resolve the matter peacefully.

As things stand, there is little chance of that. Britain stands by its position that while the islanders want to retain their British links it will adamantly defend their sovereignty.

Kirchner’s new drive marks a “drastic change” of policy, as the Argentinian press has described it. He has chosen to dump the “seduction” tactics of his predecessor Carlos Menem — to coax the islanders gradually to become more intertwined with Argentina. In that spirit he has banned additional charter flights to the islands and limited co-operation on fishing. He said in April that diplomacy did not mean living with “heads in submission”.

This seems a mistake. Granted, the seduction may not have been proceeding very fast. The islanders say they are delighted with the attention, investment and modernisation they have received from Britain since the conflict.

But it is hard to see how this deadlock would ever be resolved in the direction that Argentina wants other than by the islanders eventually developing links with that country, through business and marriage. Until then, the dispute makes good campaign fodder — but that is probably about all.
Quote: Originally Posted by Toro

Is there another economic crisis coming in Argentina the administration needs to deflect attention from?

Time to wag the old dog eh Toro?, I thought the Argies were getting touchy over the fact that the EU recogneises the falklands as a british territory and if they attacked it, theyd have the EU on their backs.

but to be honest, at the moment, like certain other wars in history, britian is too tied down over the world to worry about this little irretance in the America's, rest assured if they show their hand with force, I dont think Britain would stand back
No Party Affiliation

It sounds very much like the Argentinian leader is suffering from a severe case of "Spanish Honour". I can't think of another reason for him to make such a fuss over a bunch of cold, mouldy, windswept, islands that never were really in their possession. Oh well, another Falklands war will relieve the boredom in a couple years.. :P

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