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 280.

    The west needs the islands, Ronnie didn't offer a US carrier in 82 just out of friendship. The old cold war may be over, but Russia hasn't gone away and China is beginning to flex it's muscles. With the US and UK covering the North Atlantic and Gibralta and the Falkands covering the entrances to the East and South, the west gets a lot of security from the islands

    Who are Agentinias allies?

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    Let's hope Argentina doesn't try to take the islands by force again. This time there would be no chance of the UK re-taking them, despite the bluster from our foolish leaders. They ensured that we don't have any aircraft carriers, or enough warships to escort troopships. The small military force we keep there would be no defence against a determined attack by the Argentine air force. Very sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    19. Steve Whipp
    What about the rights of the indigenous South American peoples? Are you going to ship out all of the Spanish descended colonialists from Argentina?

    I agree - last I heard the cheeky Aboriginal people of Australia also want their country back. Is the UK going to take back the descendants of all those who were originally shipped out there?

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    In the news yesterday, Argentina's home problems. In the news today, surprise surprise, they are making a fuss about the Falklands again. It's their standard tactic, if we gave the islands to them (which we shouldn't, because the islanders themselves don't want it) they'd have nothing to distract their own people from their corruption and incompetence next time they mess up their own nation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    "Argentina's president has called on the UK government to hand over the Falkland Islands, in an open letter printed in British newspapers."
    Yeah: 'cos that's going to happen. . .

    And did she pay them to print it? We had to pay about £300 to have our off-licence application printed in the Yorkshire Evening Press.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    Don't blame Mrs T for the banking crisis or Bliar and Liebour, if you don't know the facts go back to daytime tv, Kyle!
    The HYS left wing mob blame everything that happens on banks and Tory party, if they are too young to remember the 1960s and 70s they need to read up on how the unions and Liebour screwed the nation, if they are old enough then shut up as they have forgotten!

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    A 'country in deep economic trouble'...deflecting attention from it's own financial problems? You mean the U.K. of course! The way England blames the E.U. and others for all it's economic woes!

  • rate this

    Comment number 273.

    Treat it like a beauty contest. Both politicians are nuts but Cristina is prettier than diddy Dave. Let them preen themselves. At least Their vanity is cute.

  • rate this

    Comment number 272.

    to all the people complaining about oil - the territory is ours and the finite resources are ours, whats the problem with defending that? You want ever higher prices? or to slip further toward a 3rd world economy? the naivete is YOURS for thinking its not important or its a less than noble cause. i assure you, defending resources is very necessary for any country

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.

    If Argentina invades again maybe we should use the Trident Submarines we keep as a deterrent?

    I think that would end the argument once and for all. Are they up for it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 270.

    @223 - We have such thing as freedom of speech in this country you know - or does that just apply to opinions you happen to agree with...?

  • rate this

    Comment number 269.

    @Alphonse 1969 - Umm, the British only had a 100-year lease on Hong Kong. They had no say over whether they could hold onto it or not as it wasn't sovereign territory. It'd be like a tenant in a flat deciding that they weren't going to return the flat to the landlord at the end of their lease, and also deciding that they weren't going to pay them anything either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 268.

    @234 HK was leased from China under a 99 year lease. When this ran out HK was returned to China as agreed.

    Let the Islanders decide, they have the right to self determination in the same way that Scotland has the right to become independent if the people living there so wish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 267.

    Ultimately it is what the islanders want, but i guess there will be corruption involved. I personally think that the British should give refuge to the inhabitants, all 2000 of them, its not like it's going to break the immigration limit is it, if there is one. And then hand back the islands to the countries that reside next to them, geographically.

  • Comment number 266.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 265.

    The peoples' of the Falklands have already decided to remain a British dependency, end of debate.

  • 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 263.

    I presume that at the forthcoming referendum of the Falklands population, the Argentinian government will take full advantages of the right of free expression on the islands to state their case to the islanders to vote to be part of Argentina. Having been able to state their case then should the islanders not be persuaded, then they will surely accept the expressed will of the people?

  • rate this

    Comment number 262.

    Falklands were discovered pretty much jointly by Spain and Britain, with Spain winning the initial exchange in 1770, Argentina only ever held them for a brief two year period in 1830s. Subsequently they have been British, athough the islands now have a large amount of self government under the British protectorate. Argentina's claim is to ignore history and any self autonomy for the islands.

  • rate this

    Comment number 261.

    214 - A real feeling of Deja vous. Argentina suffering political and economic problems, divert the popultation with Nationalism, stir up the masses. But have they thought this through !

    A real feeling of Deja vous. UK suffering political and economic problems, divert the popultation with Nationalism, stir up the masses. But have we thought this through !


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