Falklands War – of words

22 Jan

The war of words between the United Kingdom and Argentina continues with a piece from the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, quoted in MercoPress, an article by the Telegraph’s Neil Gardiner and a denial by Florencio Randazzo.

Mr. Hague, who has just completed a diplomatic mission to Brazil, outlined both the current situation and the historical one; “We will never impose a different kind of political association, or agree to changes in sovereignty, unless and until the Islanders themselves wish it. This has been the policy of successive British governments”, he said about British policy.

“The future of the Falkland Islands is about people: their freedom to determine their own future and to develop their own community and economy. Thirty years after the Argentine invasion, their right to self-determination remains, and will always remain the cornerstone of our policy. This is in tune with the beliefs in human and political rights of the 21st century,”

On the subject of history, the Foreign Secretary offered a rare glimpse of the British view; “With the exception of the two months of occupation by Argentina in 1982, the Falklands have been continuously and peacefully inhabited and administered under British sovereignty since 1833. Argentina alleges that Britain took the Falklands by force in 1833, expelling the civilian Argentine population and supplanting it with British subjects. The facts speak differently: Britain took formal possession of the islands in 1765, establishing various settlements over the next half century before the independent state of Argentina came into being. In 1832 Argentina dispatched a military garrison to the Islands. Britain protested and sent forces to remove it. No civilians were expelled and historical evidence suggests that the majority of the 30 or so civilians chose to stay. British settlers arrived from 1833 onwards, and were joined by other nationalities. In 1850 Britain and Argentina signed an agreement to settle their “existing differences”, and in the 90 years between 1850 and 1940 Argentina made only one formal diplomatic protest over the Falkland Islands, in 1888.”

Neil Gardiner’s piece accused the US Government of stabbing its ally in the back, by referring to the dispute between Argentina and the UK as a “bilateral issue’, and noting America’s recognition of Britain’s “de facto administrative control”. The latter had been picked up by Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Hector Timerman, as indicating a change of policy by the USA, although it is not very clear on what he based this. Washington has always recognised the administration of the Islands by Britain and has always supported negotiations to resolve the issues between the two countries. In this American policy has not changed in over 50 years.

Florencio Randazzo, Argentina’s Interior Minister, rarely heard from on Foreign Policy issues, today attempted to counter allegations of an Argentine blockade by stating that his country is not attempting to put pressure on the Islanders; “Argentina is not intimidating anyone, only reclaiming an inalienable right to the sovereignty of the Malvinas and that is why we continue to insist through pacific channels and while going down this route, which a lot of satisfaction at the support being built by the rest of the world,”

With restrictions restricting their access to markets in the south cone, the Islanders may see it differently.


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