(Updates with Argentinian statement in fourth paragraph, adds oil background, 1982 casualty figures starting in fifth.)
Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Prince William, the second in line to the British throne, arrived in the Falklands for a stint as a military pilot that’s drawn condemnation from Argentina as the 30th anniversary approaches of the war between the countries over the South Atlantic archipelago.
“Flight Lieutenant Wales, as part of a four-man search- and-rescue crew, has arrived in the Falkland Islands on a routine operational deployment and will shortly take up SAR duties post a period of briefings and a familiarization flight,” the ministry in London said in an e-mailed statement today. He’ll stay for six weeks.
Argentina said two days ago that William was going to the islands, which it calls the Malvinas, as a “conqueror” and accused Prime Minister David Cameron’s government of “militarizing” the dispute. The U.K. is also sending one of its new destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the South Atlantic to replace an older ship, the government said this week.
“We are seeing a very strong lack of leadership in Europe,” Argentinian Vice President Amado Boudou said in a statement posted on the presidential-palace website. “They are trying, as the militaries did here, to cover up the unemployment problems, the social discontent, seeking issues that have a high media impact, seeking to cover up the daily reality by talking about Malvinas, which is a far-away issue for London.”
The prospect of an oil boom in the islands is contributing to a revival of tensions. Oil explorers are targeting 8.3 billion barrels in the waters around the islands this year, three times the U.K.’s reserves.
Borders & Southern Petroleum Plc will drill the Stebbing prospect this month, one of three Falkland wells that Morgan Stanley ranks among the world’s top 15 offshore prospects this year. Meanwhile, Rockhopper Exploration Plc is seeking $2 billion from a larger oil company to develop the Sea Lion field, the islands’ first economically viable oil find.
“The Argentine people regret that the royal heir lands on the soil of our fatherland with the uniform of a conqueror and not with the wisdom of a statesman who works to serve peace and dialogue between nations,” the Argentinian Foreign Ministry in Buenos Aires said in a statement on Jan. 31.
Argentina’s military government invaded the islands in 1982 before being expelled by British troops, with the loss of 649 Argentinian lives. A total of 255 British military personnel were killed in the operation to retake the islands.
Cameron stoked anger in Argentina on Jan. 18 when he said its claim to the islands is “like colonialism.”
“What the Argentinians are saying is far more like colonialism, because these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something different,” Cameron told lawmakers in the House of Commons in London. “The future of the Falkland Islands is a matter for the Falkland Islanders,” he said. “I’m determined we should make sure our defenses and everything else are in order.”
--With assistance from Eliana Raszewski in Buenos Aires and Brian Swint and Gonzalo Vina in London. Editors: Eddie Buckle, Andrew Atkinson
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