As we move towards the Falkland Islands/Malvinas referendum, on 10 March and 11 March, about the island’s political status, friction is building between the UK authorities and their Argentine counterparts. A meeting this week between William Hague and Hector Timerman (the Argentine Foreign Minister) was cancelled due to the fact the UK authorities had invited their Falkland Islands/Malvinas counterparts.
Argentina refuses to acknowledge the Islanders
Argentina has again reiterated that it is unwilling to even acknowledge the existence of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas government which was to have been part of the planned talks. The rhetoric used by the Argentine Foreign Minister has not gone down well with the UK authorities with the subject of colonialism very much cast into the headlines again.
The representatives of the Falkland Islanders/Malvinas have made it clear on numerous occasions that they were not there to negotiate the sovereignty of the islands. They saw this as the perfect opportunity for face-to-face discussions with their Argentine counterparts to air their views in private. It seems as though this opportunity has now passed by with no future plans for the parties to come together amid signs that the political impasse is growing.
Argentina refuses to acknowledge vote on sovereignty
The up-and-coming vote on the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas is a subject that has been discussed at great lengths by the Argentine government. Time and time again they have confirmed they will not acknowledge the result of the vote which is expected to result in ties with the UK authorities remaining in place.
This is a very tricky situation for the Argentine authorities because on one hand they have rallied the international community to assist in their fight over sovereignty of the islands, while on the other hand they are willing to ignore the right of the Islanders to decide their own future. The UK government is adamant that if the Islanders wish to remain part of the UK then they will receive the full backing of the UK government and the UK military. The Islanders seem certain to reiterate this relationship with the UK but the Argentine government is still fighting the fight.
Is there room for diplomacy?
The very fact that the UK government had arranged a meeting with the Argentine Foreign Minister did surprise some people with David Cameron insisting there would be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the islands until the result of the vote was known. Whether this was a private meeting during which all parties could air their views or perhaps something of a PR stunt by the Argentine government is unclear. Whatever it was, the planned meeting has certainly backfired on the Argentine government which now seems to have isolated itself even further from diplomacy.
The UK government is unlikely to give much leeway in the short to medium term with regards to the islands, the international community on the whole seems perplexed and uninterested in the situation while the Argentine government continues to struggle. The vast resources of oil and gas in the region have attracted speculation as to why all parties are looking to maintain control of the islands. In reality this fight has been ongoing for many years, well before the discovery of oil and gas resources in the waters surrounding the Falklands/Malvinas.
The rhetoric between the UK authorities and their Argentine counterparts is set to reach obscene levels in the days and weeks ahead. The more the Argentine government fight for the islands the more the UK authorities defend the right of the Islanders, with those living in the Falklands/Malvinas very much stuck in the middle. No matter what the result of the vote in March it seems inevitable that the fight for sovereignty of the Falklands/ Malvinas will go on and on and on.
Each party has now come too far and it is difficult to see any middle ground which could be discussed and agreed leaving all parties with a sense of achievement and saving face. We will continue to cover the run-up to the vote in March and report on the results. For those who have a strong opinion on the subject why not get involved in our online poll which asks the question: –
Whose decision is the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands/Malvinas?
Click here to vote now.
It will be interesting to see the strategy of the various parties involved in this dispute as we approach the vote in March. There is divided opinion as to whether the Islanders should decide their sovereignty, the UK government, the Argentine government, the United Nations or anyone else. The reality is that the Falklands/Malvinas have been under UK control for hundreds of years and quite why this subject is again headline news has confused many people.