Falklands: Former Argentine senator calls for fresh talks with UK
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The Falkland Islands, known as the Islas Malvinas, have been a bone of constant contention between the UK and Argentina since the war fought over them in 1982. The archipelago is currently a self-governing British Overseas Territory. Dr Christopher Sabatini, Senior Research Fellow for Latin America, US and the Americas Programme at Chatham House, told Express.co.uk: “The Falklands issue for Argentina remains an exceedingly central one.”
He explained: “Unfortunately – and it’s unfortunate – Argentine governments, when they’re feeling threatened or politically with their backs against the wall in terms of domestic politics, they turn to the one thing that nationalistically people will rally around the flag for, and that’s the Falklands.
“That will be much more difficult to do if those relationships were diversified across a range of sectors across a range of people.
“Then, it would be much more difficult for them to rattle their sabre around that issue if people had invested in other areas of that relationship.”
He added: “It’s a shame because there’s a need to diversify that relationship.
“It is diversified in some areas, in terms of education exchanges and some commerce, but the truth is that it’s time to move on and the extent to which those relations can be diversified across multiple areas including trade, commerce, educational exchanges, environmental cooperation, debt relief.
“All those things [….] would reduce the centrality of the Falklands in those relations.”
This leveraging of the Falklands dispute complicates more than just Britain’s sometimes fraught relationship with the Argentine Republic.
He explained that it could also hinder future prospective trade agreements with untapped markets across Latin America.
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Dr Sabatini related: “Latin America has a long tradition of solidarity for each other.
He added that this applies “even if that has the effect of undermining their own interests.
“We’ve seen this with the United States, and striking positions with the United States in solidarity with their brethren.”
He said: “I think a number of South American countries may not necessarily involve themselves actively in any conflict or diplomatic discussion or conflagration, but they would stand at the sidelines and express at least rhetorically their support for Argentina and the sovereignty of their neighbours.”
Dr Sabatini continued on to cite how “Argentina does regularly try to get other countries in the region to rally behind its claims to the Falklands,” looking at the former government of Luis Inácio Lula da Silva in Brazil.
He described how “there was very much a claim and very much a sense that if Britain claimed the Falklands, there could also be claims on oil rigs off the coast of Rio de Janeiro.
“So, they tried to build this in their own perspective of regional solidarity and national interest.”
Ultimately, according to Dr Sabatini, the Falklands matter far more to the Latin American claimant to the Malvinas than they do to Britain.
Dr Sabatini commented: “I’m always struck whenever I go to Argentina.
“I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone from the UK mention it when they talk about Latin America, except in the sense of, ‘well, what are we going to do?’ Whereas in Argentina, they still refer to it.
“They still refer to their heroes from the Falklands War – it is still very much on their minds, whereas for most Brits that I’ve spoken to, it’s a resolved issue.
“It’s not on the table, it’s not up for negotiation, it’s simply something that they can approach in a way that could be addressed in a way without any drama.
“But that’s not the way for Argentina.
“It’s still something very much that’s an issue of stinging pride to the national sovereignty.”
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