Letter: Falklands' fate

Sir: With the greatest respect to Ambassador Pfirter (letter, 27 March), he introduces a red herring into the Falklands debate by comparing the relative distances of the Islands from Argentina and Britain. As he will know, geographical proximity has never been a valid reason for claiming sovereignty; if it were, many of today's international boundaries would have to be redrawn.

Mr Pfirter bases the Argentine case on the primacy of territorial integrity which, it is claimed, takes precedence over the right of self-determination. He assumes that the Falkland Islands are an integral part of Argentina, despite the facts that Argentina did not exist when the British landed there and that the only indigenous population on the Islands consisted of seals, seabirds and penguins, all of which have thrived under British occupation and administration.

We had a squabble with the Spanish over the sovereignty of the islands in 1771, but the Spanish monarch climbed down, disavowed the action taken by his Governor of La Plata and made restitution of the British settlement.

Looking ahead, Mr Pfirter disappointed me by sticking to the traditional Argentine line that it is in everyone's "best interest" to resolve the sovereignty issue through direct negotiations between Britain and Argentina. I fail to see how it can be in the islanders' "best interest" to be excluded from negotiations on their own future.

Sir REX HUNT

Chairman, The Falkland Islands Association

Sunningdale, Berkshire

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