An Editorial by J. Brock (FINN)
Press speculation about Papal help in starting negotiations over the Falkland Islands has been ripe since the Argentine President, Christina Fernandez de Kirchner had lunch with the Pope in his Vatican residence this week. That meeting, when the Argentine President called for an end to British rule in the Falklands, took two hours.
What Mrs Kirchner failed to realise is that the Falkland Islands Government and not Britain is the authority in and over the Islands. Added to this is the fact that the Argentine Military are re-vamping its equipment inventory and posing a credible threat to our sovereignty, makes the presence of British servicemen and women in the Falklands necessary.
On Wednesday, during the weekly audience in St Peter's Square, Pope Francis met Argentine veterans of the Falklands War, posed for a photograph and signed a placard calling for peace in the South Atlantic. However, the economic terrorism waged by Argentina against Falklands trade with South America in general can hardly be construed as peaceful.
Known as The Argentine Pope, the first pontiff from Western Hemisphere, who as archbishop of Buenos Aires openly backed his country's claim on the Falklands, he took several minutes meeting the group of 12 veterans and 20 relatives. But he is the Pope now and there are protocols that come with the job. One of them is not to get involved in politics. Though he is head of state at the Holy See, and technically devoid of local citizenships, protocol says he must leave politics to governments. In 1986 the UN declared a South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone. Indeed the placard signed by Pope Francis alluded to it. The Argentine Governments continual refusal to meet with Falkland Islands officials is a violation of that declaration, as it the fact that the Argentine Military contingent way outnumbers the approximate1500 British servicemen and women at Mount Pleasant. While chatting with the group the Pope also blessed a replica of the Our Lady of Lujan statue that is placed in the Darwin Cemetery.
There is speculation that the future of the Falklands could be discussed when Pope Francis meets Her Majesty the Queen on her visit to Rome next month but I doubt it. After all there are protocols that she follows to the letter. On the occasion I am sure His Holiness will follow those that come with his job.