Oil move 'no surprise'; Commemorate and celebrate'; Forum coming soon.
Oil move 'no surprise'THE move by Argentina to end the joint hydrocarbons understanding with the United Kingdom has not come as a surprise to Falkland's councillors. "We have been expecting them to take some kind of action in this sensitive year of the 25th anniversary of the conflict," Councillor Andrea Clausen told Penguin News. Argentine Foreign Minister, Jorge Taiana, announced the decision this week, blaming British "unilateral" actions such as oil exploration in "disputed" areas "belonging to the Argentine continental platform." Councillor Clausen said the agreement, which was signed between Argentina and the UK on September 27, 1995, has in fact been non-functioning since 2000/01, "...and so the denouncement of it will have no practical effect for the Falkland Islands." Nor should it have any effect on the future of the hydrocarbons industry in the Falklands, she said, "...as the agreement was principally to do with the Special Area of Co-operation. "The denouncement of the agreement means that this area no longer exists. It does not affect hydrocarbon activity in the rest of the FICZ or FOCZ." Nevertheless, Cllr. Clausen said she was "sad" that Argentina is again taking action against the Falkland Islands which is in contrast to the spirit of co-operation. "It is sensible for such close neighbours to communicate on areas of mutual interest (under the sovereignty umbrella); this is clearly a re-buff of such a sentiment," she commented. The Foreign Office described the Argentine move as "a backward step." Acting Governor, Harriet Hall, commented, "It sends a very negative political signal and we want a full and constructive relationship with Argentina." Argentine commemoration Ms. Hall said the UK has always been committed to commemorating the conflict in a "fitting and respectful" manner which respects the fallen on both sides. Tying in with this, the Falkland Islands Government announced this week it has agreed that, following discussions between the British Embassy in Buenos Aires and the Argentine Families Commission, more than 600 next of kin will visit the cemetery at Darwin later this year. Councillor Mike Summers said that in the discussions to date with the Embassy this has not been styled as an "official inauguration", but as an event to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the war, and for families to visit the war graves of their loved ones. "It would be our intention that the event is non-political," he said, confirming that it is not intended that there will be any officials from the Argentine government or politicians joining the visit. There will, however, be officials of the Families Commission who also came here some time ago. The planning of the visit is still underway and numbers have not yet been finalised, however Cllr Summers said the Families Commission is talking about coming by sea with numbers of "600+". The sea journey is necessary because charter flights to the Falklands are banned by Argentina. Councillor Richard Cockwell said the planned visit was intended to provide, "...a dignified, fitting and private commemoration by the families of the Argentine armed forces who died in the conflict." 'Commemorate and celebrate'A SERIES of celebratory events are being organised for mid-June, to tie in with the commemorations which will mark the anniversary of the end of the Falklands War. All the events are being funded by the government and organised by SeAled PR. Top of the bill is a Liberation Ball, a family event open to everyone aged from school year seven and above, which will be held in the FIDF Hall on the evening of Saturday, June 16. A free bar and buffet will be provided and 'Miss and Master Falklands 25' will be crowned on the night. At the same time, a gala dinner for invited guests and visiting VIPs will take place in the Town Hall. Four of the eight councillors will attend this, and the other four will attend the Liberation Ball. Before the two events begin, a fireworks display will be held at around 5pm which will tie in with a commemorative balloon release. During the day on Saturday, June 16 a Falklands Expo is planned to take place in the Community School, giving people from all areas - such as voluntary groups, private sector companies and government departments - the chance to showcase what they have achieved over the past 25 years. Sarah Clement of SeAled PR said the Expo - which is also being funded by the government and supported by the Tourist Board - is open to anyone who wishes to participate: "It's a platform to show the world-wide media what we've achieved and what we hope to achieve. Anyone who wants to get involved - whether your organisation is big or small - please get in touch." As usual, the annual civic reception will be held after the Parade and Freedom March on Liberation Day, June 14 and everyone is welcome to attend. The kids will not miss out, as a party is being organised for the afternoon of June 14. Themed, 'A Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Fest', government insurers HSBC has donated £1,000 towards the party, and FIG is funding the rest. The party is open to all school children and will take place in the Leisure Centre from 4-6pm. The only rule is that under eights must be accompanied by a parent or guardian aged over 16. Forum coming soon PLANS for the Falklands Forum are "going very well", according to Sukey Cameron, the Falkland Islands Government's (FIG) representative in London. The April 18 event has been well supported by sponsorship, she said, and the number of delegates is growing. "We expect that to grow even more after the publication of The Times'Focus on the Falklands' which will be published on April 2 and will carry an advertisement for the forum." Representing FIG at the forum are Councillors Clausen, Robertson and Summers, the Chief Executive, Director of Fisheries and Director of Minerals and Agriculture, along with aquaculture advisor Brendan Gara and senior agriculture advisor Neil Judd. A number of delegates from the private sector will also be attending, Ms Cameron said, including fishing industry representatives Cheryl Roberts, Stuart Wallace and Tony Blake. Further information on the forum is available at www.falklands.gov.fk. NORWEGIAN CROWNis the last cruise ship to visit this season. She will bring 1,050 passengers to Stanley today (Friday).
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