Argentina, the Falklands and Negotiations

4 Feb

Prince William has arrived in the Falkland Islands to commence the long-planned training course there which should give him the qualifications he needs to move up the military ladder; rioters protest in Buenos Aires and the Argentina Vice-President, in an unexpected pot-calling-the-kettle-black move, accuses the United Kingdom of using the Falklands as a cover for bad news at home.

And it’s only February.

The 30th anniversary of Argentina’s second attempt to take the Islands from the British falls on the 2nd of April. The invasion, Margaret Thatcher sending a Task Force, and the ignominious, indeed largely unexpected, defeat of Argentina is all well-known and will be repeated often over the next few months. What led up to it is less well documented, but in light of Argentina’s repeated calls for negotiation, is worthy of a little consideration.

Britain’s association with the South Atlantic archipelago goes back to 1690 and came close to a war with Spain in 1770. Argentina, having declared its independence in 1816, only seems to mention 1833, when a first British Task Force appeared in the South Atlantic and threw off a trespassing garrison, which had arrived from Buenos Aires only two months before. Just enough time to raise a flag, mutiny and murder the Commander of this tiny invasion force.

But it is the period immediately before 1982 that is of interest in the context of negotiations.

In September 1964 the Argentine Representative at the United Nations, Dr. José María Ruda gave an 8,000 word speech to the Decolonisation Committee. He told a lot of lies, including the assertion that Britain had taken South Georgia by force. The upshot, however, was something of a diplomatic success for Argentina as it resulted in the UN General Assembly Resolution 2065, the following year.

2065 notes a dispute between Argentina and Britain and goes on to call upon the parties to negotiate over the Falklands, bearing the interests of the Islanders in mind.

While Argentina likes to argue that ‘interests’ are not the same as ‘wishes’, the effect of this success in the UN was that Britain and Argentina started negotiations. Meetings were held, the issues were discussed but there was no common ground. In fact the meetings were still going on in early 1982 when Argentina stabbed 2065 in the back. And therein lies the problem with ‘negotiations’.

Britain is prepared to discuss almost anything, but recognises that the ‘interests/wishes’ of the Falkland Islanders remain paramount. It said so in 2065 and Britain has always recognised that the Islanders’ rights are enshrined in the UN Charter. Argentina sees it differently. To Argentine eyes there is ony one issue on the table, a complete and absolute recognition of sovereignty by Argentina leading to a handover. There is no room to manoeuvre on this as far as they are concerned. Argentina has even written the outcome into its Constitution.

So the calls for negotiation by Argentina are a nonsense. Argentina demands that Britain comply with the Resolution that Argentina itself killed off. Argentina demands negotiations knowing full well that they have already taken place, over a period of more than a decade and also knowing that, with their own position, such discussions are a complete and absolute waste of time and money.

The Falkland Islanders must be allowed to decide their own future. It is their right.

Negotiations with Argentina are no part of that.


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