British Ambassador in Buenos Aires said Sunday that 2007 will not be an easy year for the relationship with Argentina because of the upcoming 25th anniversary of the war over the Falklands/Malvinas.
"Obviously this is a sensitive year, because this is the 25th year since the conflict and you're having a presidential election", said Hughes in an interview with the newspaper Los Andes from the wine producing province of Mendoza, where he was on an official visit to talk about trade with the United Kingdom. "Naturally there will be a commemoration of that event in Britain", as well as in the Islands added Ambassador Hughes. "Hence we must handle affairs with great care. But obviously it will not be an easy year for relations" between Argentina and the UK."The differences over the Islands continue to be deep between Argentina and us", underlined Ambassador Hughes. He added that the anniversary will also be marked in the Falklands but he did not know if Prime Minister Tony Blair was planning to attend the ceremony "because that is in the hands of the Islands' government". However he did confirm the presence of several British ministers. Hughes revealed that "there is an invitation for Argentina to participate in a joint event, only Argentina and UK, to remember the fallen from both sides". Asked about Argentina's response, he said "we are discussing the issue". Nevertheless in spite of "the controversy over the Falklands, which we can't deny, we must handle affairs as to not worsen relations". "But in other fields there's a close relationship between both countries, like in the issue of human rights or terrorism, Iran for example". In the interview with Los Andes newspaper Hughes also addressed other issues as British interests in Argentina, more specifically in the province of Mendoza, banking with HSBC; ICI; Diageo (wineries); Rio Tinto mines and a mining Project to develop a potassium plant demanding an investment of a billion US dollars. Apparently the project in the next two decades would represent annual exports of 400 million US dollars plus 500 permanent jobs in Mendoza. "British businesses' investment mentality is long term and to work closely with local communities", said Hughes. Finally there was a mention to the long established links between Britain and Latinamerica, "from independence to the construction of Latinamerican countries; in Argentina, from Admiral Brown to the railways". But the reporter points out that the British interest was more in combating Spain than favoring South America. "More than impairing Spain, it was against France. But I'm not a historian and the fact is that nowadays France, Spain and Great Britain are allies. The rest happened long time ago", said Hughes.