Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner reiterated her country's claim to the disputed Falkland Islands at the United Nations on Thursday, and demanded that Britain enter into negotiations with Argentina to resolve the issue.
Kirchner made the demand while addressing the U.N. Committee on Decolonization on the 30th anniversary of the 1982 war between Argentina and Britain in which British forces recaptured the disputed islands after a brief 74-day Argentine occupation.
The Falkland Islands have been under British rule since 1833. Although Argentina attempted to take them in 1982, it failed, losing the ensuing war with Britain. The war left more than 600 Argentinian and 255 British military personnel dead.
In her address to the U.N. panel, Kirchner insisted that history and geography of the disputed islands, known in Argentina as Malvinas, backed her country's claim. She also pointed out that the Falkland Islands were part of the South American continental plate.
"How can it be claimed that, 14,000 kilometers away (8,700 miles), that it can be part of the British territory?" she asked, noting that Britain "is benefiting from its privileged position as a permanent member of the Security Council of the United Nations."
On her demand for negotiations with Britain over the issue, Kirchner said Argentina was "just asking to talk" about the islands' sovereignty. She added that the disputed islands still being under British rule was "an affront to the world which we all dream of."
However, two Falkland Islands legislators who spoke at the same session rejected Kirchner's claims and complained about Argentina's "bullying" tactics. They also insisted on the islanders right to self-determination. Legislator Mike Summers said Falklanders had a "distinct and clear identity" and considered the islands to be their country and home.
Separately, events were held in London and Port Stanley to mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the war over the islands. While the flag of the Falkland Islands was hoisted above Downing Street and other government buildings in London, streets of Port Stanley were decorated with British and Falklands flags.
The Falklanders marked the occasion with a service at Port Stanley's Christ Church Cathedral. Later, war veterans led a military parade to the Liberation Monument for paying tribute to the 255 UK servicemen and three Falklands civilians killed in the war with Argentina.
While speaking at the Falkland Islands government reception, British Prime Minister David Cameron noted the "aggression from over the water" over the Falklands, and said: "My message to the government of Argentina is this: the UK has no aggressive intentions towards you."
Dismissing Argentina's earlier accusations about the UK militarizing the South Atlantic and nuclear threats as "hyperbole and propaganda," Cameron warned Buenos Aires not to under-estimate Britain's resolve on the issue.
"Threats will not work, attempts to intimidate the islanders will not succeed, because Britain stands ready and willing to stand up for the Falkland Islanders at any time. As long as they wish to remain a British territory, that is the way it will stay," he added.
The British government has been consistently rejecting Argentine demands to engage in negotiations on the sovereignty of the long-disputed Falkland Islands, insisting that it is up to the islanders to decide on the sovereignty issue.
The UK government also points out that European Union's Lisbon Treaty has recognized the Falkland Islands as an Overseas Territory of Britain. Despite these claims, the U.N. has passed several resolutions calling on Argentina and Britain to discuss the issue.
The latest developments come amid renewed diplomatic tensions between Argentina and Britain over oil drilling off the Falkland islands by British companies. Britain considers hydrocarbon exploration in the Falklands as an integral part of the right of Falkland islanders to develop their own natural resources for their economic benefit.
While Argentina threatened to take legal action against British firms exploring for oil around the islands as well as companies that do business with them, Britain responded by halting all exports to Argentina's armed forces.
by RTT Staff Writer
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