Lawmaker Jan Check is “cautiously optimistic” about the future of the Falkland Islands despite Argentina’s blockade and attempts to wreck the Islands economy, but if development continues to thrive, some neighbours will think twice before continuing to support the aggressive policy of President Cristina Fernandez towards the disputed South Atlantic Islands.
MLA Cheek made the statements on Friday, in London during a conference at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS, in which she gave an update on the progress of oil exploration, sanctions imposed by Argentina and relations with South American countries. She also talked about the economy of the Falklands, which has improved markedly since the 1980s, although trade with regional partners has been affected by recent Argentine diplomatic pressures.
“Despite all the hurdles and the additional costs of overcoming Argentina’s efforts to harm our economy, we continue to import all our basic needs, our vessels continue to fish and the oil exploration round has been very successful”, said MLA Cheek addressing a panel of experts and journalists.
Besides “we have received encouraging signals from several South American countries that are not pleased with the Argentine sponsored blockade on the Islands and to not want to continue”, although MLA Cheek declined to reveal the countries so that “they won’t be exposed to further pressures”.
So, “if our strong (oil and fisheries) development continues, I suspect that one or two of our neighbours will want to share with us those benefits by supplying us with equipments, material, services”, indicated MLA Cheek who is also a member of the Falklands’ rotating Executive council.
Among the many hurdles imposed by Argentina on the Islands 3.000 population are limitations on air links with the continent; threatens to end the only commercial flight with Punta Arenas in the extreme south of Chile; barring Falklands’ flagged vessels from docking in Mercosur ports and most recently a raft of legal actions against oil companies involved in exploration activities with Falklands’ licences in the Islands’ waters.
When asked about claims of “militarization” of the area, MLA Cheek said that sending a Royal Navy destroyer on South Atlantic patrol is “a routine deployment” that has been going on since the end of the 1982 war, when Argentina invaded the Islands, and can only be interpreted as ‘dissuasive’.
Similarly with the range testing of Rapier missile missiles, which is also routine training.
“They are routine deployments and the only reason for a (British) military presence in the South Atlantic is defence; a purely defensive and dissuasive role. Not at all aggressive”, underlined MLA Cheek.
However the Falklands’ lawmaker admitted that as far as she is aware, “there is no imminent military threat from Argentina”
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the South Atlantic conflict and Argentina has been particularly insistent about its sovereignty demands over the Falklands/Malvinas Islands.
The meeting was chaired by Christian Le Mière, Research Fellow for Naval Forces and Maritime Security
The International Institute for Strategic Studies is a world-leading authority on global security, political risk and military conflict. The IISS was founded in the UK in 1958 with a focus on nuclear deterrence and arms control. Today, it is also renowned for its annual Military Balance assessment of countries' armed forces and for its high-powered security summits, including the Shangri-La Dialogue.
IISS is a registered charity headquartered in London and also has offices in Washington, Singapore and Manama, Bahrain. It is a non-partisan organization, independent of government and other bodies. Its mission is to promote the adoption of sound policies to further global peace and security and maintain civilized international relations.