Argentinian belligerence backfired: Falklands minister

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Argentina's "belligerent" behaviour over the Falklands has completely backfired by turning the islands' young generation against the country, one of the archipelago's ministers said.

Buenos Aires' constant claims on the islands since the 1982 war with Britain have alienated those who were not even born when Argentina invaded, a member of the British territory's legislative assembly told AFP.

"Rather than trying to win favour and win us over, they have in fact done exactly the opposite," said legislator Roger Edwards, on a visit to Britain.

"We have a new generation of Falkland Islanders who were totally unaffected by the conflict, but we have lived through 28 years of continual belligerence from the Argentines.

"They have been trying to affect us politically, socially, economically, environmentally and any other way you can think of.

"The attitude has hardened a whole new generation of Falkland Islanders against Argentina.

"It's negative, and totally counter-productive. And we have to live and work around their shenanigans."

Britain has held the archipelago since 1833. Argentina's then-ruling military junta invaded in 1982, prompting a short but bloody war.

Around 3,000 people live on the barren South Atlantic Ocean islands, which lie 450 kilometres (280 miles) off the Argentine coast.

Edwards said the islands "would love to see a normal, neighbourly relationship" with Argentina.

"We could be some of the best trading partners and neighbours you can think of but as long as they continue with their nebulous claim on the Falkland Islands then we cannot be neighbours."

He said Argentina's requests for talks with Britain were not really about improving the situation.

"When they say talks, they mean sovereignty. They don't mean better relations, they mean takeover. And I'm afraid they will never get that," Edwards said.

Members of the Stanley legislative assembly were in Manchester, northwest England, to lobby at the opposition Labour Party's annual conference, which ended Thursday.

© 2010 AFP

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