Argentina reignites Falklands row with newspaper letter

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner President Fernandez called for 'territorial integrity' to be restored

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Argentina's president has called on the UK government to hand over the Falkland Islands, in an open letter printed in British newspapers.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner urges Prime Minister David Cameron to abide by a 1965 UN resolution to "negotiate a solution" over the islands.

The letter says they were forcibly stripped from Argentina in "a blatant exercise of 19th Century colonialism".

The government said the Falklands' population had chosen to be British.

The Foreign Office said there could be no negotiations on the sovereignty of the Falklands "unless and until such time as the islanders so wish".

A referendum on the islands' political status is to be held in March.

'Forcibly stripped'

The letter, published as an advert in the Guardian newspaper and the Independent, follows repeated calls by President Fernandez for the islands - which are known as the Malvinas in Argentina - to come under the sovereignty of her nation.

Start Quote

"In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations”

End Quote President Fernandez

Last year, marked 30 years since the Falklands War, when the islands were occupied by Argentine forces for 74 days.

Ms Fernandez says her letter is published on the same date - 3 January - when, 180 years ago: "Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000 km (8,700 miles) away from London".

She goes on: "The Argentines on the Islands were expelled by the Royal Navy and the United Kingdom subsequently began a population implantation process similar to that applied to other territories under colonial rule.

"Since then, Britain, the colonial power, has refused to return the territories to the Argentine Republic, thus preventing it from restoring its territorial integrity."

In her final paragraph, she ends: "In the name of the Argentine people, I reiterate our invitation for us to abide by the resolutions of the United Nations."

Argentina says it inherited ownership of the islands from Spain, arguing that British colonists occupied the islands by force in 1833 and expelled settlers, violating Argentina's territorial integrity.

It also bases its claim on the islands' proximity to the South American mainland. The islands' capital, Port Stanley, lies about 1,180 miles (1,898km) from the Argentine capital Buenos Aires.

'Chosen to be British'

The historical account provided by Ms Fernandez differs from the one provided by the Foreign Office on its website.

Whereas Argentina's president says her country was "forcibly stripped" of control in 1833, the Foreign Office site says an interim governor appointed by ministers in Buenos Aires was murdered by his own men and a British warship subsequently "told" his 24-man garrison to leave.

British administration, which dated back to 1765, was therefore resumed.

The Foreign Office website also refers to the 1965 UN resolution which, it says, "invited the British and Argentine governments to begin negotiations 'with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the problem, bearing in mind the provisions and objectives of the UN Charter and... the interests of the population of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas).'"

Start Quote

There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend - the islanders can't just be written out of history”

End Quote Foreign Office spokeswoman

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said that the Falkland Islanders "are British and have chosen to be so".

"They remain free to choose their own futures, both politically and economically, and have a right to self-determination as enshrined in the UN Charter," she added.

"This is a fundamental human right for all peoples.

"There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend.

"The islanders can't just be written out of history."

In June, UK Prime Minister David Cameron confronted President Fernandez about the issue when they came face-to-face at the G20 summit.

During the exchange, the prime minister rejected her demand for negotiations over the sovereignty of the islands and told her that she should respect the result of a referendum .

The Argentine president had earlier raised her demands at the United Nations, appearing at the annual meeting of the UN decolonisation committee on the 30th anniversary of the end of Argentine occupation.

She used the occasion to reiterate Argentina's opposition to any more wars and to criticise the prime minister's decision to mark the day by flying the Falklands flag over 10 Downing Street.

In December, Argentina protested at Britain's decision to name part of Antarctica, Queen Elizabeth Land. A formal protest note was given to the British ambassador, John Freeman, in Buenos Aires.

The area, which makes up around a third of the British Antarctic Territory, is also claimed by the South American country.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 264.

    I can see from the comments submitted so far that contributors still seem to think that Britain is at the centre of an empire. Sorry folks. The game is up. Britain no longer has an empire nor the gun boat diplomacy that was associated with it. We now live in a world of science where sense and logic prevail. As for what remains of Britain and its few outposts, Viva La revolution!

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    I reckon 90% of British Citizens could not even point these islands out on a map. Imagine the uproar if Argentina settled on the Isle of man or Channel islands! The UK are using bully tactics here. Happily handed HK back to China no problem didn't they. The days of 'Great Britain' were numbered a long time ago. If Scotland get their independence next year then what will really be left of the UK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Northern Ireland, the Falklands, just two places the British want to hang on to at all costs for no benefit whatsoever. The true costs of "owning" both will never be revealed. Give them back - we have no money, we have no prospects, yet we cling to these outposts of a non-existent Empire. Time to stop pretending we have proprietory rights over the rest of the world. We don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    The Falklands' population has a right to determine their own future and if they choose to remain part of the UK we have a duty to protect them by any means necessary. The fact that the Falklands are nearer Argentina than the UK is utterly irrelevant to any debate

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    If she bases the Argentine claim on proximity, then we still own half of France, based on historical possession we still own America. Until the islanders declare otherwise they are British and we should defend them. I was a serving member during the conflict and we have a more legitimate reason to send troops there than to the Afghanistan.


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