Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner at the June 14 meeting of the Special Committee on decolonization of the UN has asked Britain to start a dialogue on joint management of the Falklands. For the government of David Cameron her appeals are not significant because of pro-British position of the islanders and her privileged position in the UN Security Council. What is Kirchner hoping for?
If for Argentina June 14 is the day of defeat in the battle for the Falklands (or Malvinas) Islands, and for the British it is the day of victory, for the islanders it is the Falklands Liberation Day. On this day 30 years ago the British fleet came to the island, and ensured the victory of Great Britain in the three-month war with Argentina over the Falklands.
Kirchner, however, stressed in her speech that the war was started by a military junta, and not the constitutional Argentine government, thereby removing the responsibility for the military invasion of April 4, 1982. She then mentioned that in 1974, under President Juan Domingo Peron, there was a secret negotiation between Britain and Argentina "on the status of the Falkland Islands, during which the British ambassador in Argentina gave suggestions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Great Britain." Kirchner read some of the items from the plan to resolve the conflict. Among them were issuance of official documents in Castilian and English and the joint appointment of the governor of the island.
However, according to head of Argentina, the negotiations were derailed after the death of Peron and the military coup in 1976. The logic of the president is clear: everything was going in the right direction, if not for the actions of military leadership that the current government is not responsible for.
At the same time, the UK central channels showed on Thursday the residence of Prime Minister David Cameron in Downing Street where a flag of the Falkland Islands was raised. Kirchner commented: "I was far away, but I felt ashamed, because you cannot celebrate the war." In fact, you cannot celebrate the war, but can celebrate winning it, and emotions are a bad adviser in the debate.
Argentinian newspaper La voz política quoted the president saying the Argentina was only asking for a dialogue. They were not asking to give them the island, they were asking to sit down at the negotiating table. She continued to say that a country that declared itself a fighter for human rights and freedom in the civilized Christian western world cannot refuse to discuss the problem.
Kirchner believes that the status of the Malvinas Islands is not only a regional but also a global problem, because it shows that international organizations have different standards for their members. She commented that anyone who is a permanent member of the UN Security Council may respect or disrespect a resolution and those who are not, do not respect the resolution or violate human rights. She is not the only one to have this claim to the UN.
The president brought with her a delegation consisting of members of the parliamentary opposition, thus emphasizing that the status of the Malvinas Islands was Argentina's national problem. She explained she did not come there to celebrate the end of the war 30 years ago, but because in a few months it will be 180 years since they were invaded. She thanked the organizations "Southern Common Market" (MERCOSUR) and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), as well as the leadership of Arab and African countries for supporting the country.
Kirchner's opponent - a representative of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly deputy, Roger Edwards- also attended the meeting. He spoke on behalf of the residents of the archipelago, defending the right to self-determination of the islanders. He spoke of the war in 1982 as "illegal invasion" of Argentina, and noticed that Kirchner was trying to take away the islanders' democratic rights. He believes that the policy of islands blockade by Argentina has a goal of a "painful punishment of their small population."
Falkland Islanders amounting to approximately three thousand people will soon make a choice whether they want to be an overseas territory of the United Kingdom or part of Argentina. This was announced recently by the chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the islands Gavin Short. A referendum on this issue will take place in 2013. "We will hold this referendum not because we have any doubt about what future we want, but in order to show the world how much we believe in it," said Short. "We definitely do not want to be ruled by the government of Buenos Aires, and it soon becomes clear to anyone who visits the island."
Kirchner is opposed to the referendum and it is clear why. Strategic Falkland Islands is the key to the development of Antarctica and the rich deposits of oil found on the shelf. President of Argentina, of course, understands the futility of her position in view of the apparent contradiction of the will of the island residents. What are her hopes? She is hoping for a return to the format of the negotiations of 1974, that is, the discussion of co-management of the islands. This would be the best option for her; however, she does not have enough leverage over the United Kingdom. Her leverage can be an economic blockade and international courts in connection with the disputed status of the islands officially recognized by the UN. She will do or is already doing all of the above.
What was the reaction of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization? It did not tell the parties "yes" or "no" and instead adopted a resolution proposing Argentina and Great Britain "to enter into negotiations on the future of the disputed Falkland Islands (Malvinas) in order to find a peaceful and fair solution to this problem."