The Falkland Islands, which are part of the British Overseas Territories, are due for a change of governor this year. The UK government announced earlier this week that Alison Blake CMG will be the first woman to hold the position from July 2022, 40 years after the liberation of the Falkland Islands. Nevertheless, Argentina stands by its territorial claims, as evidenced by a joint statement issued by Argentina and China in February.
As “Governor of the Falkland Islands and Her Majesty’s Commissioner for South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands,” Alison Blake represents the British Overseas Territory on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen. The British government website states that “the Governor acts as the de facto head of state and is usually responsible for appointing the head of government and senior political positions in the territory”.
Alison Blake studied Ancient and Modern History at Oxford University and initially worked as an archaeologist in London. She began her career in civil service in 1989 at the British Ministry of Defense, where she served for six years as Assistant Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defense, among other positions. She later served on the United Kingdom’s delegation to NATO and then was the first political secretary at the embassy in Washington. High-ranking positions followed, including Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan and Bangladesh. She was British ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan, until 2021.
For the Falkland Islands, 2022 is a special year: in June, the approximately 3,000 inhabitants of the islands will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the liberation after Argentine military forces invaded the Falkland Islands in April 1982. With numerous events and exhibitions, especially between April and June, both in the Falkland Islands and in Great Britain, the war and the liberation are to be remembered and the fallen soldiers and civilians commemorated.
Argentina still does not consider the conflict over the Falkland Islands as settled. In February, during the Beijing Winter Olympics, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Argentine President Alberto Fernández issued a joint statement agreeing to support each other’s disputed territorial claims and deepen economic ties between their countries. President Xi Jinping declared that China “reaffirms its support for Argentina’s demand for the full exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands,” the Argentine name of the islands. In turn, Argentina supports China’s claim that Taiwan is not a sovereign country, but belongs legally to China.
As expected, the UK firmly rejected this statement. British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss clarified on Twitter that the United Kingdom “completely rejects any questions over sovereignty of the Falklands.” She further wrote, “The Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self determination. China must respect the Falkland’s sovereignty.”
Julia Hager, PolarJournal
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