Brexit brings a chance to strengthen ties between Argentina and the Falkland Islands, the country’s foreign minister said yesterday.
Jorge Faurie met with his counterpart Jeremy Hunt in London where the pair discussed increasing trade and travel links between the islands and South America.
Afterwards Mr Faurie said: ‘Our plan is to generate a greater link between the mainland and the insular part.’
Rightly or wrongly, some interpreted his comments as part of a plot to use Brexit to ultimately take control of the islands.
Jorge Faurie met with his counterpart Jeremy Hunt (pictured together on Thursday) in London where the pair discussed increasing trade and travel links between the islands and South America
The Daily Telegraph said Mr Faurie is trying to ‘exploit the situation to “enhance” efforts to pull the islands away from the UK.’
The unofficial Falklands Islands twitter account, which has 70,000 followers, tweeted the Telegraph’s story with the caption: ‘Come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough.’
Brexit brings uncertainty for the Falklands because EU member states will no longer be obliged to help protect Britain’s claims over sovereignty.
This is because a treaty called the Duty of Sincere Cooperation – which includes a legal obligation for member states to assist each other over sovereignty – will no longer apply to Britain.
Argentine President Mauricio Macri’s previous foreign minister pointed to this when she said last year: ‘When Brexit takes place, the EU could evaluate a decision on how to proceed and how to stand on these issues – and there may be a change.’
Stanley Harbour, Falklands Islands
However, Mr Faurie’s comments yesterday were conciliatory and emphasised co-operation between Britain and Argentina.
He told Argentina’s largest newspaper Clarín: ‘We have a relationship with the British government, which includes the dialogue of those who live on the islands.
‘Our relationship is to generate a greater link between the mainland and the insular part.
‘That those who live in the islands feel that they can reach the continent to educate themselves, to take care of themselves in health issues and to do business.
‘The way we can have dialogue with those arriving from the islands will only have a positive effect and faced with rationality.
‘At this moment we are analyzing having a greater air connection, which facilitates the link between the continent and the islands.
‘This will only help to create trust and better knowledge of one and other.’
A statement released by Argentina’s government said Mr Hunt and Mr Faurie agreed to ‘strengthen bilateral work to achieve greater co-operation between governments and the private sector.’
Some analysts say increased trade with Argentina and South America will be essential for the Falkands to survive after Brexit.
The northeast coast of Pebble Island, Falkland Islands. Some analysts say increased trade with Argentina and South America will be essential for the Falkands to survive after Brexit
This is because the islands currently rely heavily on tariff-free access to the EU single market where it sells meat, fish and other products, sales which generate 70 per cent of its GDP.
The foreign ministers’ meeting at the British Foreign Office comes before Theresa May is due to meet Argentina’s president at the G20 in Buenos Aires on November 30.
The Falkland Islands is a British overseas territory off the east coast of South American which is claimed by Argentina.
In 2013, 99.8 per cent of its 3,398 inhabitants voted to remain British. They did not get to vote in the Brexit referendum.
Mr Faurie arrived in London for a 48-hour visit to speak at the Latin American Conference at the think tank Chatham House.
The Union flag flies over Port Howard, West Falkland after British troops won the Falklands war with Argentina in 1982