Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Global Impact: Argentine Ambassador to UK Insists Referendum on Falklands a "Publicity Stunt"

Argentina's ambassador to Britain Alicia Castro said yesterday that the referendum on the fate of the Falklands Islands AKA Malvinas Islands is a publicity stunt with no legal legitimacy.

Ambassador Castro alluded to the referendum that will take place in the islands off the coast of Argentina during March 10-11 to determine if the residents want to remain British.

COMMENT: Although Castro emphasized that the results of the referendum will not be recognized by any sovereign or multinational body, it seems reasonable that a referendum be one of many steps in bi-lateral negotiations over ongoing territorial disputes.
Castro affirmed that "the colonial government [i.e., the UK] calls for a referendum" as a "strategy to avoid dialogue and not fulfill the international right that urges a resolution over the dispute."

Although  Castro  insists that only direct negotiations between Argentina and the British government, the British Foreign Office has said, "The Argentine Government has already dismissed the referendum before it has even taken place, a position that runs counter to the universal principles of democracy and self-determination."

Of course, what is really at the heart of renewed hostility between Argentina and the British government on the subject of the islands is the fact that there are strong indications of oil deposits being found, which suddenly makes the islands much more valuable economically than simply a territorial issue.

Before tensions get out of control as they did in 1982, which led to military hostilities between Argentina and the UK, with Argentina eventually surrendering, it seems prudent and politically wise for both nations to bring in a neutral third party to mediate their respective dialogue. 

Unfortunately, the cessation of hostilities between the two foes never effectively addressed the sovereignty disputes between Argentina and the UK nor did they in 1989, when the two countries renewed diplomatic relations.

Clearly, diplomatic relations never should have been reactivated until the over-riding territorial dispute over the Falklands had been resolved. Yet, that can only be described as "water over the dam."

With crude oil now a dominant consideration, if anything, "normal" relations between the UK and Argentina may become very elusive.