Argentina to negotiate with the Falkland Islands Government ?

2 Mar

Back in 2003, some 7 months after Argentina elected Nestor Kirchner as its President, the new Government sent a proposal to the United Kingdom suggesting that negotiations on scheduled flights between Buenos Aires and the Falkland Islands be opened. The invitation included a statement that they would not accept the presence of any Falkland Islander at those talks.

In true diplomatic style, the Argentine Government accompanied that request with an immediate ban on all charter flights to the Islands passing through its air-space.

Britain’s response was brief: “The Falkland Islands Government is wholly opposed to any scheduled flights originating in Argentina or operated by Argentine carriers. The concern would be, based on past experience, that the Argentines could not be trusted not to heavily subsidise the flight, to such an extent that it made the LAN Chile flight no longer commercial and caused its withdrawal, following which we would have commercial scheduled flights only through Argentina. This of course is reminiscent of the situation in the 1970’s and is unacceptable.” *

Last night, in one of those rambling speeches so beloved of South American leaders, President Cristina Fernandez de Kircher, the old President’s wife become President, ended with a similar offer. “I have instructed our Foreign Minister and our ambassador in London to ask for negotiations with the British government in order to have … flights leaving from mainland Argentina – Buenos Aires – to the Islands in our flag carrier, Aerolineas Argentinas”

Having threatened to cut the current flight between Chile and the Islands, last September, in front of the United Nations, it would seem that the subsequent accusations of an illegal ‘blockade’ have had some effect. Hence, an offer that seems, on the face of it to be reasonable, but which still results in the loss of contact between the Chilean community in the Falklands and their homeland, and gives Argentina effective control over the flights.

A little too obvious.

The reasons given in 2003 have not changed and Britain’s immediate response was effective; “If Argentina is keen to promote air links between the continent and the islands, it should reconsider its ban on charter flights through its airspace.” adding, ”President Fernandez’s current policy of seeking to isolate and dictate to the Falkland Islanders – from the harassment of fishing vessels to the closure of shipping ports – is indefensible and will not succeed.”

The British Foreign Office also pointed out that any decision regarding flights to the Islands rested with the Falkland Islands Government.

Perhaps talks on this issue should take place allowing the Falkland Islanders to appear willing, at least, to listen to the Argentine proposals. But then, the Government in Buenos Aires would have to recognise the existence of a vibrant community on the South Atlantic archipelago; and the fact that it is well run, with its own Government.

Any negotiations over air travel would have to be between Argentina and the Falkland Islands’ Government.

Self-determination in action.




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