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UK-Argentina Relations

Volume 506: debated on Tuesday 2 March 2010

14. What recent assessment he has made of the state of relations between the UK and Argentina; and if he will make a statement. (319396)

We have a productive relationship on a range of issues, including in the G20, such as climate change, sustainable development and counter-proliferation. We hope that current tensions over the Falklands will not escalate and undermine our co-operation on other issues.

Argentina today is very different from the Argentina of the early ’80s. It is a wonderful place full of many people who share our values. Does the Minister agree that the Government should reach over the head of Argentina’s rather dysfunctional Government in Buenos Aires to the people of Argentina in order to communicate the fact that this is not a simple, tired, post-colonial issue but is about the islanders’ right of self-determination?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right to say that this is a matter of self-determination for the people of the Falklands. When some people—Argentines—suggest that there are not any indigenous people to the Falklands, I point out that many people from Argentina are of Italian, British, Scottish and German stock, going back fewer generations than the presence on the Falklands Islands. [Hon. Members: “And Welsh.”] For that matter, as several hon. Members are pointing out, many people of Welsh stock live in Patagonia.

I know that the relationships between our two countries are very strong, and there are many areas in which Argentina has been extremely courageous, not least in relation to counter-proliferation. We stand ready to work with it on all those issues, as I pointed out to the chargé d’affaires the other day. It would be good if it had an ambassador back in London.