BUENOS AIRES: The government of Argentina has announced it is maintaining its 183-year-old claim to disputed islands in the South Atlantic, putting to rest speculations over a change in policy in the wake of the conservative opposition’s takeover of the government in November elections.
In a statement released January 3, the anniversary of British occupation of the islands, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, “the Argentine people and Government reaffirm once more the imprescriptible sovereignty rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas [Falklands], South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas.”
The Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, lie some 480 kilometers east of the southern coast of Patagonia, and have been a British territory since 1833. In March, 1982, then junta-led Argentina invaded the islands, sparking the short-lived “Falklands War” with the UK. The surrender of the remaining Argentine forces 74 days later eventually led to the overthrow of Argentina’s military rulers.
Center-right President Mauricio Macri, whose election victory in November signaled the end of 12 years of leftist rule in Argentina, has continued his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s firm policy to maintain Argentina’s claim on the disputed islands, recently demanding that new talks over the British territory’s status be held, a call reiterated by the Foreign Ministry’s statement.
In a referendum held in March 2013, the 3,000 residents of the Falklands voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining British subjects.
Reacting to the Foreign Ministry statement, the office of British Prime Minister David Cameron did not dismiss the possibility of talks, but stressed the right to self-determination of the Falkland Islanders, saying that they had made their wishes “very clear” in the March 2013 referendum, according to several news reports.