Is the referendum in the Falkland islands going to finish the dispute? Is independence feasible? Would a status quo be the best solution? Does the government of Argentina have an intolerant approach towards the Falkland islanders?
Assuming we all want a real and peaceful solution, all the before mentioned questions are interlinked. Thereby, depending on how we answered them, we could either see the next chapter in a never ending story, a conflict being aggravated or moving forward towards a definitive conclusion.
If we wanted a peaceful, real and definitive solution, I would answer: no, no, no, yes. Indeed, the referendum is an important step towards solving the problem but not the solution itself. From there, neither the status quo nor independence would secure Falkland islanders’ future. However, the government of Argentina cannot base its approach on simply ignoring one of the parties involved.
Argentina, the United Kingdom and the Falkland islands need to compromise if they want to put a peaceful and definitive end to the dispute. What is to compromise? Broadly speaking, to compromise means to have an agreement between/amongst different parties in relation to something they are all claiming by accepting others’ claims (or part of them). It implies dialogue, and dialogue implies mutual respect, tolerance or toleration.
In order to make it clear, let’s see the features that characterise any compromise:
a) Several parties: there should be more that one party interested in whatever is the object centre of the conflict. In the Falklands case, we have three parties: Argentina, the United Kingdom and the Falkland islanders.
b) A dispute: a disagreement or a conflict between/amongst the parties. Why would we need to compromise if there was no dispute? Although there are several reasons for the Falklands dispute to exist (e.g. finance, geostrategic location, natural resources, etc.) the parties mainly argue about their sovereignty. It seems they all want exclusive sovereignty over the territory because that grants them whatever they seek in their agenda, i.e. internal cohesion for internal political reasons such as popularity, self-determination and all that this right involves, exploitation of natural resources, human rights, etc.).
c) Participation of those who are part in the dispute: Argentina, the United Kingdom and the Falkland islands would participate through their representatives. No party or representative alien to the conflict should be included. To put it in simple terms, if I had a problem with my neighbour I wouldn’t be calling my Mum, Dad, brothers , sisters, friends to support me; and my neighbour wouldn’t be inviting his/her side. We would be dealing with the situation on a one to one basis.
d) Reciprocal concessions: all the parties have to understand that if they want a peaceful, real and durable solution they will have to accept and make mutual conceptions, i.e. by giving up part of their claimed rights or its extent. Another option could actually be bi or trilateral enterprises.
e) Time: a conflict that has been going on for centuries will not be solved with only one meeting. For every two steps forward, there might be a step backwards. And that is perfectly normal and acceptable as long as we are still moving forward
f) Agreement: no party can’t be said or obliged to do, not to do, accept or reject anything. This is not a capitulation. Argentina, the United Kingdom and the Falkland islands should agree on the terms of the accord. Each of the parties and their representatives must have total freedom when being part of the negotiations.
Is this utopia? It depends. If we only centre the focus on short and medium terms goals (e.g. local elections), it will never happen. If we want a reasonable way of approaching the dispute and seek a real, peaceful and durable agreement, it is the way forward.