In what some are considering President Mauricio Macri’s first sign of showing some backbone when it comes to the Malvinas Islands sovereignty dispute, the head of state informed the UK embassy in Buenos Aires that he was “concerned” about UK Defense Minister Michael Fallon’s presence on the islands earlier this week, which he interpreted as an “intrusion” on Argentine territory.
Even though this was an extremely mild and polite way to express discontent, it does show a bit of a departure from the government’s approach to the Malvinas issue.
Macri had let it be known he would let the conflict take a back seat in favor of pursuing commercial relations with the UK, which is a course of action the former Kirchner administration wouldn’t have dreamed of taking. During his meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron at the Davos World Economic Forum in January this year, both politicians agreed to re-launch bilateral relations and increase dialogue on “all topics,” included the islands’ sovereignty.
However, they said, the latter would remain “under an umbrella” so it wouldn’t jeopardize other issues of mutual interest. Let’s be honest, it was basically a “we’re not going to talk about it” in political language. To make things more clear, Cameron said that, “clearly a new President has taken office and has given signs he’s willing to have a better relation despite the Malvinas. Our position is clear.”
During his stay on the islands, Fallon told the BBC the greatest threat to the territory under UK control “is not Argentina, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who seems determined not to listen to the islanders’ wishes.” Corbyn has called for the UK to reach “reasonable accommodation with Argentina” over the dispute.