“I’m afraid the Argentines are behaving irrationally and not very well.” This was the opinion expressed in Stanley on Thursday morning by the Attorney General for England and Wales.
The Rt,Hon.Dominic Grieve QC MP said that the British Government’s support for the Falkland Islands was total. He hoped that the Islanders felt that the British Government had responded adequately to the challenges that had arisen in the last few years and particularly during last year.
In the Attorney General’s opinion, although the support for the Islands from the British Government was fundamental, it would be good to see an improvement in relations with Argentina “because it is a neighbour and, in the long term both the Islands and Argentina would benefit from greater cooperation, but that is not at the price of sovereignty.”
While he hoped that at some point in the future there would be the possibility for a better dialogue, sovereignty would continue to be non-negotiable.
The reason for Mr Grieve’s presence on the Falklands is the annual conference of the Attorneys General of the British Overseas Territories (OTs) which opened on Monday morning. Eight Overseas Territories are represented at the conference, together with representatives from the Crown Dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey. A representative from the USA is also present along with a contingent from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
As a keen walker and outdoors enthusiast, Mr Grieve said that he had always wanted to visit the Falklands and so had been ready to fall in with the suggestion of the Falkland Islands Attorney General, Mr Mark Lewis, that the conference should be held in Stanley. Because of its geographical situation, the Falkland Islands was sometimes seen as being on the edge of the family of OTs, but this was, he believed, a misconception and part of the purpose of bringing the Attorneys General Conference to Stanley was to demonstrate how integrated the Falkland Islands was.
Whether in the Caribbean, Saint Helena, the Falklands or Gibraltar, OTs usually had small populations which presented particular challenges in terms of the way they are administered, the way they maintain the rule of law, ensure that they are properly policed and have proper prison systems. These, said Mr Grieve were part of a whole series of things that had to be done on a micro level with the aim of achieving the same standards as were expected to apply in more populated countries. The really important purpose of the Attorneys General Conference, he believed, was to enable an exchange of ideas which would lead to creative solutions to the problems that all shared.
The business of the Conference included sessions on environmental law, human rights, clearer extradition arrangements and how to run a justice system in a micro environment. In all of this, said Mr Grieve, with functions that include giving advice to administrations and carrying out many independent public interest functions, attorneys in most Overseas Territories are “absolute lynchpin individuals” in terms of the smooth running of the administration of their territories. That, he concluded, was one of the reasons why the UK Government regarded the Overseas Territories Attorneys General Conference as being so important.