A joint declaration on the Falklands Islands dispute reaffirming Chilean support to Argentina’s claim over the Malvinas is expected to be released Friday at the end of President Cristina Fernandez visit but allegedly with no specific mention to the Lan Chile air link, according to diplomatic sources.
The Argentine president arrived in Santiago Thursday evening and was later honoured by President Sebastian Piñera with a reception at Government House, La Moneda, attended by 250 top guests including former presidents, business CEO (including Lan Ignacio Cueto), lawmakers and outstanding Chilean personalities.
For Cristina Fernandez it’s her first official visit overseas since taking office for a second mandate last December, and since her January thyroid surgery which forced to suspend the visit to Chile originally planned for the end of that month.
She will hold her first official meeting with President Piñera Friday midday and in the framework of an escalating diplomatic dispute between Argentina and the UK over the Falklands sovereignty in which Chile is trapped since Punta Arenas in the extreme south of the continent is the only commercial air link of the Islands with the continent in the country’s flag carrier, Lan Chile.
Besides the visit comes only two weeks ahead of a highly sensitive date, the thirtieth anniversary of the Argentine military invasion of the Falklands, April 2, and for which the government of President Cristina Fernandez has displayed an extremely aggressive escalating diplomatic campaign claiming sovereignty over the South Atlantic Islands.
To that effect the Foreign ministries of both countries have been discussing the terms of the joint declaration which includes Chile’s traditional support for Argentina on the issue and the need to resolve the dispute peacefully, plus Argentina’s acknowledgement to the Piñera government for adhering to the Mercosur decision to bar from regional ports all Falklands’ flagged vessels.
However Chilean diplomatic sources indicated that contrary to what was expected and anticipated by President Cristina Fernandez last year before the UN general assembly the declaration ‘makes no specific mention’ to blocking Argentine air space to the Lan commercial air link Punta Arenas/Falklands.
Precisely the Argentine escalade had Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne spend two days in Santiago, early this week, (Monday/Tuesday) to lobby for the Falklands and confirm there is to be no economic blockade of the Islands or attempt to isolate the Falklands people, as was made public by Chilean Foreign Affairs minister Alfredo Moreno.
Furthermore Chilean diplomatic sources revealed that in spite of the three flights a week to the Falklands from Buenos Aires and with Aerolineas Argentinas offered by Cristina Fernandez, Argentina is beginning to understand that blocking the Lan flight could result more costly than beneficial, since once a month it stops in Rio Gallegos and is the only connection for Malvinas veterans and next of kin to visit the Argentine memorial in Darwin and the Islands.
“Besides such a move would not have the support from La Moneda”.
Therefore it is believed the joint declaration, which will include the Falklands issue among others, is to be released at the end of the Argentine president visit with no questions taken from the press.
Chilean sources also believe that Argentina will emphasize on bilateral relations, connectivity, joint infrastructure projects, regional integration and defence of natural resources, among other issues.
And regarding two sensitive issues, trade and restrictions to Chilean exports, and the extradition from Argentina of a Chilean terrorist allegedly involved in the killing of the killing of an elected Senator in 1991, apparently there has been a “positive attitude” from the government of Cristina Fernandez.