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Falklands war may be over, but the diplomatic conflict rumbles on

S ource: UK Guardian

The war may have been officially over for almost 30 years, but the diplomatic conflict over the Falkland Islands rumbles on. The decision by several South American nations to close their ports to ships flying the archipelago’s “illegal” flag is only the latest attempt by Argentina to get the disputed sovereignty back on the agenda.

Having affirmed its claim for the islands in its constitution in 1994 – just four years after the two countries resumed relations – Argentina treated Las Malvinas as a priority throughout the years that followed, with President Nestor Kirchner campaigning vigorously on the issue in 2003 and the United Kingdom remaining implacably indifferent.

After Kirchner’s death, his wife was elected leader and took up the claim with zeal, insisting in 2008 that Argentina’s rights to the islands were “inalienable” and denouncing “the shameful presence of a colonial enclave in the 21st century”.

Since then, she met Gordon Brown who told her that, contrary to her demands, there would be no talks over the islands’ sovereignty. She also reacted angrily to David Cameron’s assertion earlier this year that “as long as the Falkland Islands want to be sovereign British territory, they should remain sovereign British territory – full stop, end of story”. She called the prime minister “arrogant” and said his remarks showed “mediocrity and almost of stupidity”.)

The tensions show no sign of dying down – indeed, if anything, the issue is becoming increasingly fraught. In 2009, an Argentinian delegation at the World Summit on Fishing Sustainability protested over the presence of Falkland Island representatives. In 2010, amid growing anger over British oil and gas exploration near the archipelago, Buenos Aires announced that ships sailing through Argentinian waters en route to the Falklands, South Georgia or the South Sandwich Islands – all of which are British overseas territories claimed by their Latin American neighbour – would require a permit. In recent weeks, Argentinian patrol vessels have reportedly boarded 12 Spanish boats for “illegal” operations in the disputed waters.

 

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