While Argentina's claims that British aircraft have violated Argentine airspace have been firmly rejected by the United Kingdom Government, the Argentine protest has caused puzzlement in London.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office insists that the aircraft complained of were at all times several miles within the Falklands Outer Conservation Zone, and flew nowhere near the perimeter.
What is perplexing is that the Argentine protest gives co-ordinates placing the aircraft well inside the Falklands zone, which has been in force for many years. The Argentine Government cannot be in any doubt where it is even if it does not officially recognise it.
The Argentine fishing boats under surveillance by the aircraft were also well within the Falklands zone, which the fishermen themselves had indicated they would deliberately enter in protest against their own Government's conservation restrictions on catches.
The Argentine fishing boat incursion, in Britain's view, as more reason for protest than Argentina's inaccurate allegation. In fact the British Government made no formal official protest. It simply gave a warning that the Falklands armed fisheries protection vessel Dorada was on her way to investigate and requested the Argentine Government to use its influence to persuade the Argentine fishermen to withdraw, which they did voluntarily, having gained the publicity they sought.
The controversy has aroused little interest or media coverage in Britain in contrast to Argentine coverage. And the British Government is keen not to exacerbate tensions.
Coming so soon after the Argentine delegation's unfriendly attitude towards the Falklands legislators taking part in the annual United Nations debate on the sovereignty dispute, the attitude of the new De La Rua Government and its Foreign Minister, Adalberto Rodriguez Giavarini, risks jeopardising the goodwill engendered by last year's Anglo-Argentine July 14 Agreement. Despite some opposition in the Islands, the Falklands Councillors agreed to restoration of air links and dropped their ban on Argentine visitors in return for closer co-operation on fish conservation and combating foreign vessels illegally poaching in the South Atlantic fishing grounds.
This co-operation has worked well so far for both sides. Even as the Argentines were demonstrating a hardening of attitudes towards the Islanders, the British Foreign Office Minister, John Battle, was pra