Falkland Islanders Oppose Argentina Flight Plan
By Jonathan Gilbert, Buenos Aires
7:00AM GMT 20 Mar 2012
Falkland Islanders are opposing a proposal made by Cristina Kirchner, the Argentine president, which would link the archipelago to Argentina via three weekly flights from Buenos Aires.
The legislative assembly of the Falklands will ask the UK to avoid entering into negotiations with Ms Kirchner’s government over the issue, reports Argentine newspaper *El Cronista*.
“Under no circumstances will we allow our contact with the outside world to be controlled by Argentina,” a member of the assembly said. “And much less by an airline that flies the Argentine flag.” The only current commercial flight to the Falklands is managed by LAN, a Chilean airline, which runs a twice-weekly service from Punta Arenas, in Chilean Patagonia, to the RAF base at Mount Pleasant.
Ms Kirchner announced the proposal, which has still not been made official, at the opening of Congress two weeks ago.
She wants Argentine Airlines to run the flights from Buenos Aires to Mount Pleasant, but should they be inaugurated it is believed Islanders fear the Argentine government would attempt an economic blockade by calling on LAN to cease its service.
The news comes as tensions rise between the UK and Argentina just two weeks before the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Héctor Timerman, the Argentine foreign minister who has accused the UK of militarising the South Atlantic at the UN, announced last week that Argentina will take legal action against companies involved in drilling for oil around the Falklands.
Meanwhile, Peru yesterday said it will allow HMS Montrose to dock at one of its ports.
Montrose was controversially replaced in waters surrounding the Falklands by HMS Dauntless. The warship will arrive at El Callao port on Thursday for four days.
The decision to allow Montrose and 186 crew to dock on South American soil may irk Ms Kirchner, who has so far managed to unite her neighbours behind the Argentine sovereignty claim.
Last week Chilean president Sebastián Piñera met with Ms Kirchner and reaffirmed his government’s solidarity with Argentina over the Falklands.
The Union of South American Nations also gave Argentina its “full backing” at the weekend, while Chile, Venezuela and the Mercosur trade-bloc all signed up to an agreement that prevents ships flying the Falklands flag from docking at their ports.
More at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/falklandislands/9154524/Falkland-Islanders-oppose-Argentinian-flight-plan.html