Britain has rubbished Guyana’s solidarity with Argentina over its territorial claim to the Falkland Islands, but Georgetown said it was merely reiterating its historical position.
The issue came emerged again when President Donald Ramotar stated unequivocally at a reception in honour of the Argentine Revolution.” I wish also to reiterate Guyana’s support for the government and people of Argentina to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity to all of Argentina, including the Malvinas Islands.”
While Guyana’s position is not new regardless of which political party is in government, Ramotar’s stance has not been taken lightly by the Britain.
British High Commissioner to Guyana, Andrew Ayre, speaking to Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) on the sidelines of the Queen’s Birthday reception held Wednesday night at his residence, said “it is no secret that we disagree.”
Ayre dismissed suggestions that the Falklands was colonised, saying that when Britain settled on the islands Argentina did not exist and any past, current or future linkage between te two would be “irrelevant.”
“We understand why some countries might view the issue as one of territorial integrity, some sort of implanting of population but the reality is that when Britain settled the Falkland Islands, Argentina did not exist…essentially it is part of Britain and it will never be part of Argentina,” said the British envoy.
He dismissed suggestions that the Falklands was colonised and urged all members of the United Nations to recognize the Overseas Territory as part of the United Kingdom.
The British High Commissioner assured that Guyana’s position would in no way affect the “broad” and “deep” relations it enjoys with Britain.
Although residents there in May voted overwhelmingly in a referendum that the territory should remain part of Britain, Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett justified her country’s posture.
“We don’t believe it’s an issue of self-determination. You cannot bring persons, place them in one place and years later say they should decide. That’s not self determination for us,” she said. “The issue that is before us is one where you had the people removed from an island and you put a next set of people,” she added.
Records show that Amerindians from Patagonia could have visited the islands, they were uninhabited when discovered by Europeans.
Under the Falkland Islands Constitution, residents there have a right to self-determination. Currently, the United Kingdom government is responsible for foreign affairs and defence for the internally self-governed territory which raises its own taxes.
Argentina and the UK went to war in 1982 over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands located 480 kilometers (298 miles) east of the tip of South America. Triggered by Argentina’s invasion, the conflict left 649 Argentines and 255 Britons dead.
Guyana is a former British colony, having achieved political independence in 1966