40 years ago, Argentina decided to take British territory in the South Atlantic by force. The invasion of the Falkland Islands met with fierce resistance, as the British instead of accepting the affront, sent a massive naval military task force to recover the islands. TVP World’s guest, Lord David Owen, former British Foreign Secretary and later negotiator in a conflict with former Yugoslavia, presented his take on these events.
“The Argentinian invasion was against the rule of international law,” asserted Lord Owen. “The Argentinians claimed that the islands belonged to them. The British were right to be able to claim it historically, though modern international law gave the Argentinians some case – not enough to attack – but enough to make it a continuing subject of discussion as to how to deal with the differences of opinion between Argentina and the UK. We were prepared to go on doing that in the Security Council, but they decided they’d take the law into their own hands.” Lord Owen described the fight to recover the islands as an extremely difficult task, which was of utmost importance. “The admiral [Woodward] was asked by Mrs Thatcher what would happen if we didn’t take the Islands back, and he said we wouldn’t be the same country again.”
Asked about his opinion on the Ukraine-Russia negotiations, Lord Owen stated: “I think it’s up to the Ukrainians what deal they make, if any, with the Russian government. But there is no doubt in my mind that Putin has broken international law.” He pointed out that Russia’s actions are also in violation of the Budapest Memorandum signed in the 1990s, which postulated that the territorial integrity of Ukraine be respected. “We are paying the price for not standing firm when Putin first invaded Ukraine,” said Lord Owen, referring to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Lord Owen went on to say that he is glad the British government has taken a firm stance on the current conflict. He also said that it is of utmost importance that NATO provides Ukraine with as many weapons, as quickly as possible, and commented on the reasons why it is not possible for NATO to declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
Lord Owen also highlighted the role of Germany in supporting Ukraine in the current conflict and praised the Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz for changing the country’s initially reluctant stance on helping Ukraine. “Russia will have to listen to Germany,” he stressed.