Falklands’ Future Fuels UK-Argentine Tensions
Tensions between Argentina and the UK over the Falklands have reached new heights in recent days as Buenos Aires has declared it will make a formal complaint to the UN about Britain’s alleged “militarisation” of the islands.
Cristina Fernández, the Argentine president, summoned allies and opponents from across the political spectrum to a speech on Tuesday night but unexpectedly dropped the shrill tone with which Argentina usually berates what it sees as Britain’s anachronistic colonialism.
During the speech, held in the symbolic “Room of Latin American Patriots”, Ms Fernández held back from banning Chilean flights crossing Argentine airspace to the islands, as she threatened to do last year.
Instead, with few practical options besides diplomacy, she said Argentina would redouble protests at the UN, including at the next meeting of its Decolonisation Committee on June 14 - ironically the 30th anniversary of Argentina’s surrender after its military government invaded the islands in 1982.
The question on the minds of many diplomats now is how much further the dispute can go - even if many other countries view it as much-ado-about-nothing, with some recalling how Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges described it as “two bald men fighting over a comb”.
Argentina sees the recovery of the islands, which it refers to as Las Malvinas, as the cornerstone of its foreign policy, and has already rallied unprecedented regional support for its sovereignty claims.
Last December it secured commitments from neighbours Brazil, Uruguay and Chile to deny access to their ports for Falklands-flagged ships. However, the move is largely symbolic as ships can raise another flag when they enter the ports.
Buenos Aires has, however, already banned ships from crossing Argentine waters to supply the oil exploration which it says is plundering its natural resources. One British company, Rockhopper, made a commercial discovery in Falklands’ waters last year.
Argentina has also decried last week’s arrival in the islands, wearing the military garb of a “conquistador”, of Prince William, grandson of Queen Elizabeth, for helicopter training just ahead of the April 2 anniversary of the start of the 1982 invasion. It is also angry that Britain has sent a state-of-the-art destroyer, HMS Dauntless, to the region.