Yemi Olaiya is a Spring 2016 intern with the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh. She is currently an undergraduate student at Allegheny College studying Political Science in addition to Modern and Classical Languages. In the blog post below, she raises the issue of how the ongoing territorial dispute between Argentina and Great Britain over Las Malvinas / the Falkland Islands will unfold with newly elected Argentine President Mauricio Macri in office.
Relations between Argentina and Great Britain have been less than amiable for almost 200 years. Indeed, the two nations continue to grapple with one another as the desire of unequivocal possession over the Falkland Islands has been unwavering on both sides. Albeit for some, the dispute over the rightful possession of the Falkland Islands is not a dispute at all. In fact, in March 2013, an overwhelming majority of islanders voted in favor of remaining a British territory. This was unsurprising though, considering that most of the current islanders are of British descent.
However, Argentina has continued to lay claim to the islands since 1820 as it inherited the lands from the Spanish crown at that time. Then most recently in 1982, the country sent its soldiers to the islands as a way of re-establishing its claim. This lead to a two month war between Argentina and Britain which ultimately resulted in Argentina’s surrender and the death of over 900 soldiers and three islanders. Unfortunately with Argentina’s most former president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, matters have not improved much. Kirchner’s stance on Argentina’s claim on the South Atlantic islands has been viewed as very contentious and was not at all well received by Britain.
Fortunately, a slight wind of change might be upon the pugnacious relationship of these two nations. Current Argentine President, Mauricio Macri has expressed his commitment to improving Argentina’s relationship with United Kingdom. In fact, the newly elected president is determined to address and reconcile Argentina’s other international strifes as well.
So far Macri seems to be off to a good start. Nonetheless, he has made it clear that Argentina will not relinquish its claim to the Islands. Some believe that this assertion is only due to the strong sentiments of Argentine citizens who believe Las Malvinas (as the Islands are referred to there) rightfully belong to Argentina. It has been argued that if Macri’s stance on the Islands had been anything else, he may have lost the presidency.
As for the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister, David Cameron is also willing to put the strife between the two countries aside and improve Argentine-British relations.
The two national leaders actually met in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum this past January. They discussed how the two countries could overcome past feuds and examine different ways in which the countries could benefit each other. Despite this new accord that the two have reached, Cameron has made it clear that Britain will not cease its sovereignty of the Falkland Islands (as the British refer to them) in any capacity. In addition, the UK will not negate the self-determination or the desire to remain British which many islanders made clear in wanting to retain in their 2013 referendum.
It is hard to say what the ultimate outcome will be over this long held dispute. However, the fact that the two countries are willing to work together in spite of this disagreement, many believe is an important stepping stone in the right direction. All the same, it is safe to say that more bloodshed is not wanted by either side.