The new Pope will not support Argentina’s claim in its dispute with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands.
Last week Argentina’s President, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, met with Pope Francis following his election and asked that he use his good offices to persuade the UK to negotiate over the archipelago’s sovereignty. The Pope’s reply at that time is unknown, but the Vatican has now confirmed that the Pope will not get involved.
On Sunday, Nigel Baker, the UK ambassador to the Holy See, said he had received assurances from Vatican officials that the Vatican’s policy of non-intervention remained unchanged. “Following Mrs Kirchner’s visit to the Pope and her decision to use it as a platform, I thought it worth talking to Vatican officials to see if the Vatican would respond to the request for mediation,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“They reminded me of the Vatican’s long-held position that this is a matter for sovereign states. There was no sense of them following through on Mrs Kirchner’s request, and there was a confirmation that their position had not changed.”
Pope Francis is Argentine by birth and as recently as last year was known to support his Government’s claim to Britain’s South Atlantic islands. The UK’s Government maintains that it has no doubts about its sovereignty over the Falklands and has declined any talks on the subject since Argentina’s failed invasion of 1982.
The British Prime Minister, David Cameron, drew criticism from Argentina when he compared the recent referendum on the Islands, to the “puff of white smoke” that heralded the new Pope’s election.
Britain’s claim to the Falkland Island goes back to 1765, long before what is now Argentina sought its independence from Spain.