Argentina’s claims to Falkland Islands transcend partisan politics
By Natalia Kidd
Buenos Aires, Mar 30 (EFE).- Argentine governments for nearly two centuries, no matter where they fall on the ideological spectrum, have remained fully in alignment in one aspect: their insistence in claiming sovereignty over the Falkland Islands (known in South America as Islas Malvinas).
That position has been unchanged since British forces occupied that South Atlantic Ocean archipelago – scene of a brief war 40 years ago that was won by the United Kingdom – and expelled Argentine authorities and settlers in 1833.
“What’s changed is how the subject is broached, with a much harsher (position) or more of a negotiating stance adopted with respect to London,” said Ariel Gonzalez Levaggi, executive secretary of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina’s International Studies Center.
In 1965, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a non-binding resolution that recognized the existence of a sovereignty dispute between Buenos Aires and the UK over the Falkland Islands, located about 300 miles off the coast of Argentina and home to just over 3,000 people, most of whom are of British descent.
Known as Resolution 2065, it invited both countries to start negotiations “without delay” with a view to peacefully resolving the controversy while taking into account the interests of the islands’ inhabitants.
Following that resolution, bilateral negotiations were held between 1966 and 1982 in which the two sides even explored alternatives such as a joint administration of the islands and a gradual transfer of sovereignty to Argentina.
But that process was aborted when Argentina’s military dictatorship touched off an April 2-June 14, 1982, war by sending troops to the Falklands in 1982.
Since democracy was restored in 1983, Argentina has continued to claim sovereignty over that British overseas territory in various international forums.
London, meanwhile has resisted the efforts of the UN General Assembly and the UN Special Committee on Decolonization to get the two parties back to the negotiating table.
“After the war, it’s an unapproachable subject for the United Kingdom. Dialogue is impossible because the UK thinks there’s nothing to discuss,” said Bruno Tondini, a professor of international law at the Pontifical Catholic University and the National University of La Plata and a Falklands expert.
During President Carlos Menem’s 1989-1999 administration, diplomatic relations between Buenos Aires and London were reinstated under a framework in which the countries quietly sidestepped the issue of Falklands sovereignty.
But under the 2003-2007 administration of President Nestor Kirchner and the 2007-2015 government of his wife and successor, Cristina Fernandez, those relations deteriorated due to Argentina’s concerns about the granting by the UK of fishing and oil exploration licenses around the islands.
Buenos Aires said it would no longer adhere to agreements reached with the UK in the 1990s and sought to impose sanctions on companies that were beneficiaries of the licenses.
President Mauricio Macri’s 2015-2019 administration once again sought a rapprochement with the UK, while current head of state Alberto Fernandez has unsuccessfully proposed to the UK the re-establishment of regular flights between the Falkland Islands and Argentina.
Gonzalez Levaggi said that for the UK the Falklands remains strategically relevant as a gateway to Antarctica.
He added that he does not see any future negotiations scheme resulting in the complete withdrawal of the British presence.
Even so, the expert said that will not keep Argentina from asserting its claims to sovereignty over the archipelago.
“Argentina will never stop (making those claims). Perhaps a negotiation process and a subsequent recovery of the Falklands through diplomatic means is very difficult (to achieve), but these claims are part of Argentina’s international identity,” Gonzalez Levaggi said. EFE