Falklands issue: ‘Britain and Argentina should have joint sovereignty over islands’
Around 1,600 voters have Sunday and Monday to answer the question put to them: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"
The two-day referendum is supported by the British government. Its organizers believe the majority of the 2,841 inhabitants of the Falkland Islands will vote for preserving the status quo, as they don’t want to be under the control of Argentina.
Argentina has already said it would not recognize the results of the vote. The Argentinian Embassy in London said in a statement on March 8, that the referendum had no legitimacy, characterizing it as ‘a further attempt by the British to manipulate the question of the Malvinas Islands.’
Earlier in January, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote an open letter, published in the British press, in which she called on Britain to hand back the islands and accused it of blatant colonialism.
"The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule… Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity,” she wrote.
In response to that letter PM David Cameron said the UK is prepared to fight to keep the islands British if they are invaded again.
The Falklands archipelago consists of two large islands: East Falkland (Soledad) and West Falkland (Malvinas Grand), and 200 small islands in the south-western part of the Atlantic Ocean. It is located about 500 kilometers off the coast of Argentina and at a distance of 12,000 kilometers from the UK. The islands are the gateway to the Antarctic, and control an ocean area believed to be extremely resource-rich.
“Of course we would, and we have strong defenses in place on the Falkland Islands,” Cameron told the British media when asked if the UK was ready to fight.
British MP George Galloway does not expect a surprise outcome from the Falklands referendum. In an interview with RT, he shared his regret that the UK government chose this form of conflict resolution.
“The UN has told [Britain] to talk,” Galloway said. “But Britain beating its chest in the echo of its former imperial past just simply refuses to do it. And that’s unacceptable and endangers our interests in Latin America, which is one of the few parts of the globe that is economically thrusting ahead. We are prejudicing fatally our interests and our reputation in Latin America by continuing to attempt to hold on to this appendage of British colonial rule.”
Galloway said that natural resources recently discovered off the Falklands shore only add fuel to the dispute between the two countries.
The MP offered a different approach to the problem of the disputed islands:
“I’ve argued in the British Parliament that we should do a deal for joint sovereignty now with Argentina, because one day (if we don’t) we’ll have to accept the integrity of sovereignty being in the hands of Argentina.”
War between Argentina and Britain over the disputed islands began on April 2, 1982. It lasted for 74 days and ended with the victory of the British Crown. The armed conflict took the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 1,188 people were injured. British losses were 258 killed and 777 wounded. The international community currently views the islands as belonging to the UK.