Queen Elizabeth Land: nice idea, dangerous politics
Decision to name a chunk of Antarctica after Queen is provocative, says geopolitics professor
THE FOREIGN OFFICE's decision to mark the Queen's Jubilee by naming a large slice of Antarctica after her risks causing a fresh diplomatic row with Argentina which disputes the territory, says a leading expert.
The Queen visited the Foreign Office after attending Cabinet yesterday morning and, as a present, Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that a tract of frozen land in the British Antarctic Territory was to be named Queen Elizabeth Land.
The area is around twice the size of the UK, and makes up just under a third of the land mass of the British Antarctic Territory.
However, Argentina disputes Britain's claims in Antarctica, and its own claims on the land overlap Queen Elizabeth Land, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The move could spark another diplomatic incident with Argentina following rising tensions over the Falklands Islands earlier this year. While 2012 was the year of the Diamond Jubilee, it also saw the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Klaus Dodds, professor of geopolitics at University of London, said Argentina will almost certainly launch a formal protest over the move, adding the re-naming was "a calculated move to reinforce UK interests" in the area.
He said: "I think it's provocative and it's significant because place-naming is one of the most powerful ways of reinforcing your sense of ownership of a territory, and the use of royalty is, in turn, the most powerful way of cementing a connection with the UK."
"It's a ratcheting up of the parlous relations between Britain and Argentina."
All claims on Antarctica are held in abeyance under the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, which neither confirms nor denies competing claims but prevents new claims being made.
William Hague made no mention of Argentina's claims on the land, saying: "The British Antarctic Territory is a unique and important member of the network of 14 UK Overseas Territories. To be able to recognise the UK's commitment to Antarctica with a permanent association with Her Majesty is a great honour."