Falkland Islander believes in further cooperation between Islands and Argentina.
Falkland Islander Tony Blake says he believes that it is erroneous and dangerous for Falkland Islanders not to be represented at meetings concerning Islanders because we should be able to clarify some points that people like to make about the Falklands and in a friendly manner persuade people that the impressions that they have of the Islands are wrong.
He also added that if Islanders were not at a conference during which a "nucleus idea" came up that was going to solve the underlying problem it would be almost impossible to sell in the Islands.
Blake was in Buenos Aires along with fellow Islander Terry Betts to attend the eighth Argentine-British Conference (ABC), which discussed bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and Argentina, largely focusing on the Falkland Islands. During the weekend meeting Blake addressed participants on "further cooperation". His decision to participate in the ABC came following the Islands' councillors decision not to attend the meeting which he considered a "little tenuous" when they appear at meetings in the United Kingdom "but won't appear at similar one's in Buenos Aires. If you talk about the problem in one country you should talk about it in the other."
Blake pointed out that the talks went on without him referring to the issue of the Islands sovereignty "I didn't say anything about the sovereignty (of the Islands) because you can't change it, maybe in two more generations time (?) I don't think we are ever going to convince the Argentines to give up their claim and because we have the right to self-determination and Britain will back that, we can be a little more relaxed and sit down and talk about a wider range of subjects.
"I'd like to see an economic situation develop which requires it not to be brought up. What you want is the man on the street in Patagonia, Argentina to become better off and the standard of living improve, the last thing he is going to want is to start causing problems in that respect. Argentina probably has to do the same thing," he added.
He did point out that he considered it easier for individual Islanders like him and Betts to participate in such meetings because they are not elected representatives who have to stick to party lines and be worried about being mis-quoted "a non elected representative appearing at a conference like this commits the Falklands to absolutely nothing."
Blake said the area in which he was mis-quoted concerned oil and gas. He thinks that he might not have been clear that he was referring to the special cooperation zone. "If oil or gas were found in that area, the Islanders do not want the vast infrastructure which would damage the environment when there is adequate infrastructure in Patagonia. I think that would probably be agreed to in the Islands."
Asked his reaction to conference organisers suggestion that the next ABC be held in the Islands he said he believed it would be "unacceptable" at the present time "as there has been tension between Anglo-Argentines and the Falkland Islands (in the past) and the Islanders have long memories, so stopping a meeting taking place in Stanley is probably more because of this than the Argentines coming to attend it."
MercoPress - Buenos Aires