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Anglo/Argentine parliamentarians discuss Falklands

Monday, November 27th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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Argentina is studying the Cordoba agreement reached between Gibraltar, Spain and Britain to see if it has any implications for its own long-standing dispute with the United Kingdom over the Falklands.

This emerged in a debate in the House of Lords last week where Lord Faulkner described a visit to the Argentine parliament and reported that the Argentine-British parliamentary group in the Congress was reformed and that there is a desire to open a dialogue at a parliamentary level.

"Of great interest to the parliamentarians?certainly to those who wish to look forwards rather than backwards?was the agreement between Britain and Spain over Gibraltar, which was concluded in September, just prior to our visit," said Lord Faulkner.

Deputy Jorge Argüello, chairman of the Argentine Congress's foreign relations committee, visited London in the middle of October. There to speak to the British-Argentine All-Party Parliamentary Group Dr Argüello told that meeting that he and his colleagues were studying the terms of the Gibraltar settlement and would be sending them their views on it.

"Whether anything comes of that, we shall have to wait and see," said Lord Faulkner. With the Argentine presidential election taking place next year Lord Faulkner said he would not be too confident of much progress being made at government level in Buenos Aires.

"Maybe parliamentary diplomacy offers better prospects, rather as it did when Argentina sent a delegation to the IPU centenary conference in London back in 1989, the year before diplomatic relations were formally restored after the war," he said.

Lord Faulkner took the opportunity of the Lords debate to congratulate the Government, and the Governments of Spain and Gibraltar, on reaching "what is clearly a very satisfactory conclusion".

He said that the agreement has brought to an end decades of ill will, harassment, misunderstanding and hostility between Spain and Gibraltar. "It covers the use of Gibraltar airport, the lifting of Spanish airspace restrictions, the opening of the border, the paying of pensions to Spanish workers in Gibraltar and the recognition of Gibraltar's international dialling code. The agreement reflects well on the three parties involved."

He said that a number of aspects of the negotiations and the agreement are particularly interesting.

"First, the Gibraltarians were allowed by the Spanish Government to take part in the discussions in their own right. Previously, they had insisted that Gibraltarians could take part in talks only as part of the British team. Secondly, the agreement provides that the British Government retain international responsibility for Gibraltar. Thirdly, Spain has not been required to abandon its sovereignty claim on Gibraltar, although it has effectively been allowed to park it in a siding while the rest of the agreement is implemented.

I found particularly interesting the comments made by the Spanish Foreign Office official, José Pons, in an interview with the Gibraltar Chronicle on 12 June this year. He described the trilateral dialogue as an historic opportunity to achieve normal and prosperous cross-border relations, ?without any of the sides having to renounce their positions of principle'".

The obvious question, he said, is whether any lessons can be learnt from the agreement with Spain over Gibraltar that could have relevance to the dispute with Argentina over the Falklands.(Gibraltar Chronicle)

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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