Argentina hails new left-wing UK opposition leader

Argentinian President Kirchner hails UK’s new Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn as triumph for dialogue on Falklands dispute

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has offered her congratulations to the UK’s new opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was selected to head the party on Saturday.

Corbyn, a left-leaning politician, is known for his lenient stance in the UK’s dispute with Argentina over the status of the Falkland Islands, otherwise known as the Malvinas.

"Hope has triumphed," Kirchner wrote in a letter published on her official website, describing Corbyn’s selections as "a triumph for all those who work for peace and conflict resolution."

"He [Corbyn] has actively accompanied the international community in their call for dialogue between Great Britain and Argentina over the Falklands question," she added.

Argentina lost 649 soldiers in a 74-day war with the UK over the Falklands in 1982, which started when Argentine forces landed on the islands in 1982. Meanwhile, the UK lost 255 soldiers in the war.

Despite being located just 500 kilometres from Argentina, sicne 1833, the islands have officially been a part of Britain, which lies around 14,000 kilometres away. Argentina, however, claims the islands were included within its territories when it gained its independence from Spain in the early 19th century.

In 2013, the 3,000 residents of the Falkland Islands overwhelmingly voted in favour of remaining part of Britain in a referendum, as Argentina once again increasingly asserts its claim to the islands.

Corbyn, who was an avid critic of the war in 1982 and called for the Falklands to be run by a joint Argentine-British administration, continued to criticise British policy on the issue long into 2013.

The new leader of Britain's opposition Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn waves after making his inaugural speech at the Queen Elizabeth Centre in central London

"There is a way forward other than spending a very large amount of money and the potential of yet another catastrophic conflict," Corbyn said in an interview with the BBC.

Praising Corbyn, President Kirchner went on to say that, "Jeremy Corbyn is a great friend of Latin America and shares, in solidarity, our demands for equality and political sovereignty.”

"He has clearly spoken in favour of Argentina in the British Parliament regarding our struggle for human rights against the usurious interests of vulture funds,” she added.

Guards up

Earlier this year, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that the UK plans to reinforce its military presence on the Falkland Islands amid increasing rhetoric from Argentina.

Fallon said that Britain will deploy two Chinook helicopters to the islands, as well as improve communication systems at its Royal Air Force base and renew its surface-to-air missile defence system.

In June, Argentina ordered the seizure of assets of five oil drilling companies operating in the Falkland Islands totaling $156 million in bank accounts, boats and other property, in addition to ordering the firms to stop their exploration activities.

Argentina had previously launched a lawsuit in April against five companies drilling for oil and gas off the Falkland Islands following a request of a prosecutor from the Office of Economic Crime and Money Laundering (PROCELAC).

Three of the five companies being sued are UK firms, one is American, and the fifth, Edison International SpA, is French-owned and based in Italy.

Falkland Islands

In recent years, oil and gas deposits discovered near the islands have reheated the debate over ownership of the territory. However, Argentina has insisted that it has no plans to invade the Falklands.

The number of British military and civilian personnel serving on the islands currently stands at over 1,200.


TRTWorld and agencies