A senior member of the Falkland Islands' Legislative Assembly has said that he is "very very pleased" with Britain's military activities on the islands.
Mark Pollard, who serves in the small islands' government, has been reported in the British media as having said that, "we always have this threat from Argentina that leans over our heads continuously. But we are very pleased with the reassurance we get from the [UK] Ministry of Defence."
He noted that there is a British "military base" on the islands which are, he reportedly said, "capable of defending the island."
Pollard's comments come at the same time as a reported formal complaint by Argentina with the British embassy in Buenos Aires in protest of London's upcoming military exercises in the Falkland Islands.
A statement related by the Argentinian foreign ministry said that Buenos Aires has "taken notice" that the drills will be rolled out from October 15-29 and will include tank use and Rapier missile launches.
"Argentina rejects the holding of these exercises in Argentine territory illegally occupied by the United Kingdom," the ministry added in a public statement. Despite Argentine protestation, Britain has asserted that the military drills are "routine" and nothing to be concerned about.
— Falkland Islands (@falklands_utd) 11 October 2018
Yet, this is not the first time that the old enemies have locked horns over the UK's military drills on the Falklands, which sit in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 miles east of the Patagonian Coast. In October 2016, the British military held drills against which the Argentinian government rallied, declaring at the time that, "the behaviour of the United Kingdom contradicts the principle of the peaceful settlement of controversies supported unanimously by countries in the region." It came as no surprise that at that time too, London responded with drab justification, calling the drills "routine exercise."
— Ricky D Phillips (@RickyDPhillips1) October 12, 2018
In 2013, the people of the Falklands held a sovereignty referendum on whether to stay in the UK or become an Argentine protectorate. The result was overwhelmingly in favour of remaining in Britain, with 1,513 of the 1,518 votes cast reportedly opting for that outcome.
The UK has long argued that it has sovereignty over the islands, running back to its continuous administration of the territories since 1833. On the other hand, Argentina argues that it acquired the Falklands from Spain when it achieved independence in 1816 and that in 1833 the UK illegitimately kicked out Argentine authorities and settlers from the island with coercive force.
Both countries fought a brief but bloody war in 1982 over the Falklands, known in the Spanish-speaking world as the "Malvinas." The conflict began when the Argentine military were dispatched by then leader Leopoldo Galtieri, who argued that his country was exercising its "legitimate right to self-determination" by re-establishing sovereignty over the islands. This provoked a response by then British Conservative party prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who sanctioned a full-scale amphibious assault on the island to retake it.
The conflict lasted a total of 74 days, ending with Argentine surrender on June 14, 1982. Overall, 649 Argentine military personnel were killed, along with 255 British soldiers and three Falkland islanders.
Diplomatic relations were again ‘normalised' in 1986 following a bilateral meeting in Madrid, Spain. However, neither country has changed its position regarding sovereignty claims over the Falklands.
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