UK 'regrets' Falklands war deaths

Britain has expressed "continuing regret" over the deaths caused on both sides of the Falklands war, a day before the 25th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

UK 'regrets' Falklands war deaths

Britainhas expressed "continuing regret" over the deaths caused on bothsides of the Falklands war, a day before the25th anniversary of the start of the conflict.

Margaret Beckett, the British foreign minister, stressed hergovernment's commitment to "constructive" ties with Argentina onSunday.


She also announced an offer for the families of Argentiniansoldiers killed in the conflict to hold a commemorative event on the islands.


More than 900 people died in the war, including 655 Argentines, 255 Britishtroops and three islanders, before Argentine forces surrendered on June 14,1982.

'A little Britain'

Both Britain and Argentinawill hold several events to mark the war over the next three months.

To mark the anniversary of the Argentinian invasion of the islands, known tothe South American nation as Las Malvinas, Al Jazeera is running a series ofreports on the legacy of the conflict.

In the first, correspondent Lucia Newman travelled to the remoteislands in the South Atlantic.

She found that the archipelago, consisting of two main islands and 200smaller ones, bears all the hallmarks of a traditional English villageincluding a church, a post office and a pub.

The local population numbers only 3,000 and is greatly outnumbered by theislands' estimated 660,000 sheep.

But despite being situated only 1,000km from Argentina and around 13,000kmfrom the UK, Katherine Jacobson, the owner of a pub in the islands' main townof Stanley, says there is no doubt over the locals' allegiance.

"There is no doubt about it we are British. We are from England and all our ancestors have come from England or Scotland," she said.

Good life

Such a sentiment is echoed by Andreas Short, a farmer and sixth-generationFalklander whose family moved to the island from England in 1849.

"I haven't taken the keys out of my vehicle in 14 years," he says.

"I haven't locked the back door of my house because wedon't have a lock on the back door of our house in Stanley, and I think that counts for a lotmore than nightclubs or supermarkets."

Life is good in the Falklands and much ofthe islands' prosperity can be ascribed to the invasion by general LeopoldoGaltieri's military junta a quarter of a century ago.

Prior to the war the islands were little more than an almost feudal farmstate.

Today, thanks to lucrative fishing rights and land reform, they are aprosperous, economically self-sufficient overseas territory that provides freehealth care and education up to university level.

Mike Summers, a legislative councillor in Stanley, says the war was the catalystfor much of that change.

"Had it not been for the war the Falklandsvery probably wouldn't have developed to the extent it has and certainly not atthe speed it has," he says.

Argentinian threat

But despite the good times and a thriving tourism industry, the legacy of waris never far way for locals.

The soft, peaty terrain means clearing many of the 20,000 landminesduring the war has been difficult with many sinking under the surface.

The presence of a military base is testament to fears that there couldbe another military invasion by Argentina.

Increased "sabre-rattling" by the government of Nestor Kirchner inBuenos Airesworries locals.

Argentina hasconsistently maintained its claim to sovereignty over the islands and only lastweek it ended a deal with the UKto share any oil found near the islands.

Explaining the decision, Jorge Taina, Argentina'sforeign minister, said: "The Argentine decision brings an end ... to aninstrument the United Kingdom sought to use to justify itsillegitimate and unilateral action to explore for resources that belong toArgentines."

For Falklanders such as Andreas Short there is no doubting the Argentiniangovernment's intentions.

"Oh, they are definitely a threat," he says. "There is no twoways about it, they are definitely a threat."


Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16