Cameron will personally present Falklands message to Kirchner
By Graham Bound, London - Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez will get her wish on Monday or Tuesday, when she meets Prime Minister David Cameron in the fringes of the G20 meeting in Mexico to talk about the Falkland Islands.
But Cristina Fernandez might have been well advised to be careful what she wished for. Far from giving in to her demands for talks about the future status of the Falklands, the British leader is going to present a blunt message. In effect, he will say enough is enough - we will not give in to your demands over the Falklands and the aggressive diplomacy and economic action needs to be replaced by something more constructive.
The British Prime Minister has told Falklands legislators about the planned meeting, at which he will warn Buenos Aires that they should not underestimate Britain's commitment, both politically and militarily, to defend the 3.000 Islanders' and their wish to remain British.
The British leadership appears to have decided that this message needs to pass personally from one leader to the other, following on from Cristina Fernandez show-stealing appearance at the United Nations Committee on Decolonisation last week, which was part of an unprecedented international campaign for international support over the Malvinas.
It is possible that the mercurial President will anticipate the Prime Minister's message, and refuse to meet him, thus presenting her own uncompromising message. But if they do meet, the language exchanged is likely to be adequately diplomatic but to-the-point and uncompromising. A slim olive branch may, however, be extended: the PM will probably tell the Argentines that it would be possible to talk about practical issues over the Falklands that have the potential to benefit both nations as well as the Islands; for example conservation of fish stocks and oil exploration. But the outlook for this initiative is not good; Islanders attempted to present such a message when they were in the same room as the Argentine leadership last week, but the Argentine Foreign Minister rebuffed their approach.
Official British support for Falkland Islanders is at its strongest since the war of 1982. London fears that unless the Argentines are made to understand that their efforts are futile, the aggressive diplomacy and attempts to isolate the Falklands will increase, possibly to a point at which the Islands shipping and air links with the continent are broken, and diplomatic relations dissolve completely.
Downing Street's message for the G20 was trailed last week in London. In a powerful symbolic statement on 14 June, the 30th anniversary of the Argentine surrender, the Falkland Islands flag was flown over Number 10. At the same time, a Foreign Office minister was in Port Stanley. And that evening, the Prime Minister attended a reception hosted by the Falkland Islands Government, where he made an uncompromising speech.
Mr Cameron spoke of aggression from over the water, and said: My message to the government of Argentina is this. The UK has no aggressive intentions towards you. But do not under-estimate our resolve. Threats will not work; attempts to intimidate the Islanders will not succeed, because Britain stands ready and willing to stand up for the Falkland Islanders at any time. As long as they wish to remain a British territory, that is the way it will stay.
Elected member of the Islands' Legislative Assembly, Gavin Short, who recently announced plans to conduct a formal referendum about Islanders' wishes, said that he welcomed the Prime Minister's words, but he did not expect Argentine activity over the Falklands to end any time soon. The unequivocal statement by the PM was extremely well received here in the Falklands, he said.
”I suspect now that the 14th June (the 30th anniversary of the war) is over, low level skirmishing will resume, although we may have to be wary because as the Argentine economy slides ever deeper into crisis it may well cause the government in Argentina to become even more desperate to divert attention away from what looks like being a looming disaster” concluded MLA Short.