By Caribbean News Now contributor
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- During a two-day visit to Buenos Aires this week by Grenada’s foreign minister Nickolas Steele to discuss cooperation, economic development and trade issues, his Argentine counterpart Hector Timerman thanked Grenada for its support of Argentina’s claim against Britain to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Sandwich and the surrounding maritime areas.
|Foreign Minister Nickolas Steele
The two foreign ministers, along with officials of Argentina’s ministry of foreign affairs, discussed bilateral relations, especially with regard to cooperation and economic and trade issues.
They also reviewed the results of the recent summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), in which both countries participated.
Regarding the regional agenda, the foreign ministers discussed the relationship with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of American States (OAS).
At the multilateral level, they also discussed the issue of climate change, particularly affecting the small island states of the Caribbean region.
Argentina has been wooing Caribbean countries with promises of cooperation and aid, and opening embassies in the larger islands.
Last year, as pro tempore chair of CELAC, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez restated at the United Nations the bloc’s support for Argentina in its dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands.
However, prime minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), Dr Ralph Gonsalves, said that CELAC had indicated it was giving "support for the cause of the Argentineans in principle but more particularly the request was being made for the issue to be resolved within the context of the discussion taking place on sovereignty of these islands through the United Nations mechanisms".
A year earlier, in February 2012, the Falklands issue resulted in considerable controversy for three Commonwealth Caribbean members of another regional bloc, the Alliance for the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA).
Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica and SVG were among ALBA members that had reportedly agreed to block any ships flying the Falkland Islands flag from docking in their ports.
The announcement prompted hasty efforts by all three governments to distance themselves from any such agreement.
Antigua and Barbuda denied ever supporting any call for the banning of flagships from any country in the region and disassociated itself from any statement regarding the banning of ships carrying the flag of the Falklands from entering its ports.
Antigua and Barbuda also said it supports a "peaceful and definitive solution" to the territorial dispute between Britain and Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
Meanwhile, SVG said its support of the ALBA agreement to ban ships with the Falklands Islands flag from entering its ports was purely "symbolic".
Gonsalves said that ALBA merely added a paragraph to a resolution adopted in December 2011 by CELAC.
“We don't have ships from the Falklands coming to St Vincent,” Gonsalves pointed out, adding "it is largely a symbolic gesture."
At the time, Caribbean News Now op-ed columnist, the late Ian Francis, said he was convinced that Caribbean leaders were allowing themselves to be used in their ongoing charade against the United States and empty promises were only an enticement strategy to lure weak and greedy Caribbean leaders.
“In essence Caribbean leaders must understand that Britain and Argentina are engaged in a territorial boundary conflict and, by extending further support to Argentina, they might very well be making enemies of other European nations whose largesse they relish,” Francis said.
The Falkland Islands is one of 16 remaining non-self-governing territories.