Even when Argentina ignores Falkland Islanders and the Islands’ elected government and privileges the United Kingdom, “we are always integral part to the three legged discussions” pointed out former member of the Legislative Assembly Andrea Clausen in an interview with the Argentine press.
With only a few hours away from Saturday’s visit of Argentine next of kin for the official inauguration of the Memorial at the Argentine cemetery in Darwin and a couple of months to the Legislative Assembly election, Clausen said that the event was precisely a case to that point.
“The visit of the Argentine relatives is a humanitarian issue, and the policy of the Falklands government has always been in support and respect for those who lost their beloved, on both sides, and yes maybe there could have insistence from London, but the final agreement and arrangements were a decision of the Falklands government”, said Clausen.
Argentina was insistent from the very beginning that the programmed visit of 800 relatives and ceremony at the Memorial be done as an only event.
However the Falklands government pointed out there was no infrastructure or logistics for such a number of people, so finally after much discussion it was agreed by the three sides for a two Saturdays consecutive visits, October 3 and 10.
Moreover there was no chance of appealing to charter flights to the Falklands, since Argentina has banned them, so the visits are taking place in the scheduled weekly Lan flights on Saturdays.
Argentina had also to abide by the original agreement that bookings on the scheduled flights respect the regular flow of travellers to the Falklands. When the humanitarian flights were announced there was a flash booking in Lan by Argentines virtually “kicking out” regular travellers.
People in the Falklands complained, the Falklands government made a presentation at the highest level and the Argentines had to back step and keep to the original form.
Nevertheless Clausen is well aware that in her last four years as elected official one area that worsened considerably for the Falklands has been the challenge faced with Argentina, which she explained in an interview with Penguin News.
Clausen cited Argentina’s decision to cease cooperation on fishery science which she said was a great loss and had had an impact both on industrial and environmental perspectives; similarly with the Kirchner presidential decree regarding fishing companies and prospective oil companies where those that operate in the Falklands and also choose to operate in Argentina are penalised with fines.
“We have seen the walking away from the Special Area of Cooperation in 2007, the anti-fishing legislation which again targets the fishing companies who operate in the Falklands and may operate in Argentina,” she said.
“And on another level earlier this month we have seen yet another act where Argentina interfered with the running of an international fishing conference, in Spain, which really is in my mind quite childish behaviour”.
But in spite of the Kirchner’s attempts to blockade the Falklands and strangle the Islands economy, Ms Clausen was defiant:
“What they don’t realise of course is that the more they do these things the more it hardens our resilience, and we won’t be giving in, so hopefully they will learn at some point that if we want to make progress in any of these areas we have to work together”.