Argentina and the UK reached an agreement yesterday to establish commercial flights between the continent and the islands in addition to committing themselves to moving forward with the process of identifying the unknown soldiers who fell in the 1982 Malvinas war with a focus on those buried in the islands’ Darwin Cemetery.
The agreement was signed by Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Pedro Delgado — who recently replaced Carlos Foradori in the post — and British counterpart, Sir Alan Duncan. This goes in line with the Macri administration’s policy of improving bilateral relations with the UK despite the, let’s call it disagreement, regarding sovereignty over the islands.
La Nación reported that both delegations outlined a plan to reestablish flights in October of 2017. The routes will include Brazil and Chile as final destinations, with layovers in Buenos Aires. The companies that will provide the service have not been defined yet.
There used to be weekly flights between the city of Río Gallegos, in the Santa Cruz Province — the closest point in the continent — and the islands as a result of the “Madrid agreement” in 1999, but were stopped while the late President Nestor Kirchner was in office. Today the islands’ contact with the continent is limited to a weekly route with Punta Arenas, in Chile, which only lays over in Río Gallegos once a month.
As for identifying the fallen soldiers, the Foreign Ministry made a statement in a press release that both countries have been entrusted with the task by the Red Cross’ International Committee. “According to the bilateral agreement, the Red Cross will form a group of forensic experts — which will include two Argentines — who will collect DNA samples from soldiers to later compare them with samples from families who voluntarily consented to the identification.” The group will get to work during the first months of 2017.