The construction of the Argentine War Memorial on the Falkland Islands will go ahead, despite recent alleged Argentine aggression inside the Falklands 200 miles internationally declared economic zone.
Several foreign fishing vessels, legally licensed by the Falkland Islands Government, reported being harassed by the Argentine Naval vessel 'Almirante Irizar', and an Argentine helicopter, inside the zone. They were required to provide details of their nationality.
An official complaint was made to the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the British Embassy in Buenos Aires following the incident, which occurred on 15th March. According to one Councillor, the British Government are now prepared to take, 'some very firm action' against Argentina in the wake of this latest act of aggression.
The plea to halt the Memorial, in response to the 'Irizar' incident, came from several Islanders during a public meeting in Stanley. But Councillor Mike Summers said that the permanent Memorial at Darwin was agreed, along with a weekly Lan Chile flight from Santiago to the Islands, by the Argentine, British & Falklands Governments in 1999, and accordingly the Islands Government would not renege on the Agreement.
Although the alleged 'harassment' took place more than a week ago, the Argentine Government has yet to make an official reply to the British Government. Falklands Councillors expressed their concern at the lack of an explanation from Argentina, saying that they were not prepared to accept a response through the press. Their comments came after the Argentine Defence Minister was reported in the Buenos Aires Herald to have played down the incident, saying that it was 'a thing of the past' and had been overcome.
According to Falklands radio, it was suggested at the public meeting (by a member of the public) that a Falklands fisheries patrol vessel, the 'Dorada', which is armed, should be prepared to use its gun (against Argentine ships) in such incidents, but Councillor Stephen Luxton said that the problem was 'best pursued through diplomatic routes'.
Another Councillor, Richard Cockwell said that he was not satisfied with some aspects of the British Government's approach to Argentine/Falklands relations. He told the meeting, 'The British are taking it seriously - the Governor (Mr. Howard Pearce) told me that there is going to be some very firm action on this. The problem which I have is that Britain and Argentina have agreed to 'ring fence' the Falklands issue in their foreign policy so the Argentines are quite able to harass us, as Falkland Islanders, without affecting their relationship with the United Kingdom, and that's got to stop.
Bill Brown - MercoPress - Falkland Islands.