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La Nacion anticipates pressures on Falklands' oil industry

Sunday, September 24th 2006 - 21:00 UTC
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President Nestor Kirchner inaugurated Argentina's electoral year (October 2007) by downgrading contacts with US president George Bush and tensing relations with the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands, according to Joaquin Morales Sola, one of the country's most respected political analysts and columnist of La Nacion.

Pressures on Falklands' fisheries are forecasted to be followed by a similar tactic towards oil in the South Atlantic, "after all, these remote islands have become electoral prey for the Argentine military and politicians", writes Morales Solá in his Sunday column, who nevertheless recommends the Kirchner administration to look at Spain's approach towards the Gibraltar issue.

Morales Sola argues Kirchner and his Foreign Affairs minister Jorge Taiana have turned the volume on regarding the Falklands/Malvinas dispute, a situation "which London considers very difficult", and the problem "is not only words, but facts".

Strictly speaking Morales Sola admits that President Kirchner's assessment of the Malvinas war is good: a major political error which cost many needless deaths; a 200 years regression for Argentina making it a conflict that will take a very long time to solve because Argentina lost the war.

However the facts are that the Argentine Congress Lower House Foreign Affairs Committee is drafting a bill which could "tense relations with the UK to unknown extremes" under democratic Argentina: the bill would ignore fishing licences from the Falklands' government which would have a direct impact on Spanish, Japanese, Russian, Korean companies, among others..

"The Argentine government has already warned those companies that they must opt between fishing offshore Malvinas or offshore the Argentine continent. The vicinity of the waters allows for fishing with licences from both sides and in the two areas", points out the Argentine columnist who then quotes British sources: "we know they are cooking something and those Islands concern us, particularly when they get touchy with them".

"The British are well aware that after fisheries, pressure will move on to hydrocarbons (in the South Atlantic), something which President Kirchner talks about".

Mr. Morales Solá supports his statements with the recent results of the South Atlantic Fisheries Commission made up of Argentine and British experts and diplomats which experienced its last normal meeting in December 2004. In 2005 Argentina excluded the scientific side and put obstacles to the last June meeting. The Commission since its creation in the mid nineties would meet regularly twice a year. Which means the problem currently has no solution, points out Morales Solá: Argentina talks about sovereignty and the British threaten with self determination for the Islands.

The question then is how to manage a problem without an easy or quick solution.

Morales Sola admits Argentina can't give up its claim over the Malvinas sovereignty, but there's a system by which the claim remains under an umbrella. To address substantial issues a long period (with no electoral intentions) of negotiations, rapprochement, cooperation and exchange will have to be waded.

"That is what Spain has just done with London regarding Gibraltar. Beginning by the end will always mean never beginning", concludes Morales Solá.

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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