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Submitted by Falkland Islands News Network (Juanita Brock) 11.11.2010 (Article Archived on 09.12.2010)

Today's crop of threatening articles about a potential Falklands invasion by Argentina has no unusual reaction in the Islands and the people see it as yet another flap.



An Editorial by J. Brock (FINN)


Today's crop of threatening articles about a potential Falklands invasion by Argentina has no unusual reaction in the Islands and the people see it as yet another flap.  We suffered the same earlier this year when Desire Petroleum drilled a dry hole in its Ernest exploratory well in the North Falklands Basin.  Islanders are disgusted with this kind of reporting and feel the UK press want to take focus off what is really happening in the South Atlantic.


Now Desire Petroleum is preparing to drill its third hole in the Rachael prospect and the rumour mongers are at it again.  First, let's be clear about the official reaction from the Falkland Islands Government.  The Press release reads:


Response to joint letter from Royal Navy Admirals - November 10th 2010


"The Falkland Islands Government is satisfied by and grateful for the levels of defence on the Islands, which Her Majesty's Government has assured us are adequate to maintain an effective deterrent.


There are no direct defence cuts relating to the Falkland Islands. Members of the Legislative Assembly are content with the reassurances that they have been given by Her Majest's Government that the Strategic Defence Spending Review does not in any way change the UK's ability to maintain the deterrent in the Islands." 


Present invasion flaps take root from analysis after the 1982 Conflict with Argentina when the late Nick Barker - former Commanding Officer of HMS Endurance - recognised that defence cuts under the then Thatcher Government meant the scrapping of that vessel, effectively erasing any Royal Naval presence in the South Atlantic.  Relevant authorities failed to act on reliable intelligence from Captain Barker that there was an Argentine military build-up and invasion plan for the Falklands.  Though there was a small detachment of Royal Marines on the Islands it wasnt enough to thwart any invasion force and deterrence at an appropriate level was not forthcoming.


In 2010 there are different circumstances making an invasion highly unlikely.  Thus far, the only similarity with 1982 is the defence cuts under a Conservative/Lib Dem Government.  After having suffered diplomatically, politically and financially from the 1982 Conflict, Argentina has promised never again to militarily invade the Falkland Islands.  Given modern day satellite technology we see no build-up of military equipment and/or personnel along Argentina's Atlantic coast.  At Mount Pleasant an appropriate deterrence in place and there are contingency plans to rapidly reinforce the Islands, should there be a change of plans on the Argentine side of the pond.


A political lack of will to use military force for an invasion of the Falklands leaves the door open to explore other more delicious ways of hurting the Islands. 


Economic Harassment:


The Argentines have put alternatives to good use in diplomacy and in economics in failing to comply with the terms of the 1999 Agreement signed on 14 July 1999 by the then Foreign Secretary the late Rt Honourable Mr Robin Cook, MP and the late Hon Dr Guido Di Tella, Argentina's Foreign Minister.  Some of those ignored terms include:


1.         Co-operation in the fishing industry especially with straddling stocks, the sharing of data and joint scientific cruises.  Several cruises had taken place and data had been shared.  This stopped in 2007.



2.         The set up of a joint area of co-operation for hydrocarbons exploration.  There were 6-monthly meetings that ceased sometime before 2007.



3.         One flight a week via LAN Chile.  One flight a month would land in Argentina at Rio Gallegos and one flight a month would stop at Rio Gallegos prior to flying to the Falklands.  Other flights would be from Punta Arenas in Chile.  Though this flight is lucrative and hasn't stopped the Argentines have tried by saying that the government had changed and the rights to fly to the Falklands had been rescinded.  This did not wash with the appropriate authorities and the flight continues.




However, Argentina under both Kirchner governments instituted several sanctions against the Falklands which hurt our ability to develop international business with South America.  At the end of 1998 and at the beginning of 1999 there was a charter flight ban, meaning that no charter flight could over-fly Argentine air space en route to the Falklands.  This effectively hacked away at our tourism industry, forcing tour companies to base their operations in South America rather than the Falklands.


On 17 February 2010 Argentine President, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner, issued Decree No 256/2010 and Disposition 14/210, meaning that all shipping going from Argentina to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands must ask Argentine authorities for permission.  Subsequently they have denied Falklands shipping the right to innocent pass through their waters to other South American ports.


Diplomatic and Political Pressure:


Most recently the Argentines have called the UK Ambassador in Buenos Aires to a dressing down over routine missile firing at Port Harriet on East Falkland despite this being a twice annual event for the past 28 years.  Other events included:



1.         Engineering the unwitting signing of the Rio Group Declaration 2010, including a section about approving negotiations between Britain and Argentina over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, by a group of Caribbean British Overseas Territories



2.         Pressure on the Mayor of Punta Arenas, Chile for allowing student exchanges between that city and the Falkland Islands




3.         Putting pressure on other States to un-invite Falklands' scientists and politicians from international conferences



4.         Influencing UK and US politicians and influential journalists to push the Argentine agenda regarding sovereignty over the Falklands



5.         Generally persuading unwitting people that the Falkland Islands are Argentine Territory and that the British are there illegally



Britain's response:


Written several ways the response says the same thing - I summarise:



1.         Sovereignty over the Falkland Islands is not negotiable and



2.         There will be no negotiations over sovereignty unless the people of the Falkland Islands want it



3.         The people of the Falkland Islands have the right to self determination as enshrined in the UN Charter Chapter 1 Article 2 Subsection 2, stating that The purposes of the United Nations are friendly relations among nations based on respect, the principle of equal rights and self determination of peoples.



4.         Further detail can be found in UN Resolution 15.14 stating that All peoples have the right to self determination; by virtue of that right to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.



Self-determination is a fundamental human right and as a British Overseas Territory it is an integral part of our Constitution; the newest revision being relevant on 01 January 2009.


The Falkland Islands' Response:


Our Constitution affords the Falklands an internal self government with responsibilities for everything except defence and foreign affairs, meaning that FIG have the remit to offer exploration and exploitation licences for hydrocarbons in waters surrounding the Falklands.


If we had 'colony' status all of our income would go to the UK treasury in return for grant in aid.  Becoming part of Tierra del Fuego would result in the same scenario. Islanders feel it best that we determine our own future and keep income from our resources for the betterment of the Falklands.  That way we depend on no one.  The Battle Day statement issued in the early '90s reflects our determination to pay for our own defence as well as giving back to Britain some of the money spent on liberating us.  Who knows, if hydrocarbons discoveries are significant we could pay it all back.


Islanders, being resourceful, also know how to seek alternatives.  We are more apprehensive about the UK press than we ever would be about Argentines as Islanders know what they are capable of and expect any reaction to UK press reports to reflect negatively on them.


We plant more gardens with potatoes, carrots, Swede turnip and other greens and pay 1.20 for a medium sized tomato - when they are available.  Wind-power has replaced 1/3rd of the energy required for electricity and other energy efficient and home grown measures are being used instead of importing hydrocarbons products.


Most of all, we source our disappoints and take them in stride while seeking viable alternatives as the exercise thus far has made us better, more efficient people.



Shame on you:


Elements of the UK press are focusing on a war that wont exist, allowing economic, political and diplomatic pressure from Argentina to wreak havoc on Falklands businesses and relations with other nations in the area to go unreported and ignored.  Many Islanders feel that those elements of the UK press pushing for a war are doing their readership a disservice by keeping them from knowing what really is happening in the South Atlantic.


If you want a story that sells, try telling the truth.  It's better than the fiction you are putting out as fact.




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