[OpEd’s Editor’s note: We publish this statement unedited at the request of the Argentine Embassy. It is directed at the British Government, to whom and the English-speaking world the Malvinas are the Falklands.]
Each 10 June, the Argentine Republic commemorates the date of the creation in 1829 of the Political and Military Command of the Malvinas and adjacent Islands to Cape Horn by the Government of the Province of Buenos Aires.
Since its origins as an independent nation, Argentina, as successor state, permanently exercised its rights over the South Atlantic territories which had belonged to Spain, proceeding to enact legislation and establish legal and administrative bodies to consolidate the exercise of its sovereignty, promoting the development of trade, settling population and establishing a local administration office. This process was completed with the issue of a Decree, on the date we recall today, establishing the Political and Military Command of the Malvinas Islands, and appointing Luis Vernet as commander.
On 3 January 1833, breaking the Argentine territorial integrity, the UK occupied the islands and expelled the Argentine inhabitants and authorities, proceeding from then on to exercise a tough migratory control and curtailing the settlement of Argentine nationals from the continental territory in order to shape a population according to its colonial designs. For over 180 years, Argentina has never consented the British usurpation.
The Argentine stance counts on with a wide international support. Latin America and the Caribbean strongly endorse our legitimate sovereignty rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. This support extends to countries from other regions, such as the 54 African nations which in 2013 signed the Malabo (Equatorial Guinea) Declaration whereas they recognized the Argentine sovereignty rights.
On the other hand, numerous organizations and international fora urge Argentina and the UK to resume negotiations in order to find a peaceful and definitive solution to the sovereignty dispute, among them in particular the United Nations, the OAS, the Group of the 77 and China, the Ibero-American Summit and the South American – Arab Countries Summit (SAAC).
It is worth to highlight that this support was renewed at the recent OAS General Assembly held in Asunción on 6 June, whereas a resolution calling Argentina and the UK to resume the dialogue on the Question of the Malvinas Islands was adopted by acclamation. At the same meeting, the number of countries which made statements expressing their open support to the need of compliance with the United Nations resolutions was higher than ever before, all of which demonstrates the growing regional solidarity with this cause.
The numerous and categorical statements of regional and multilateral fora supporting a peaceful resolution of the sovereignty dispute by means of bilateral negotiations was collected in the publication The International Community and the Malvinas Question , recently published by this Ministry.
Despite the time elapsed and countless invitations to dialogue by the Argentine Republic, the UK refuses to resume sovereignty negotiations. The negotiations which took place from 1966 for 16 years -following United Nations General Assembly resolution 2065 (XX)- led the Parties to consider different alternatives to solve the dispute. London did not hesitate then to negotiate with Argentina the matter of substance, even with a de facto government. Its refusal to return to the negotiation table with successive Argentine democratic governments is incomprehensible and unacceptable.
The principle of self-determination of peoples, which is the only element on which the UK intends to base its position and which the British government raises exclusively in relation to the Malvinas Islands, is totally and evidently inappropriate and inapplicable to the sovereignty controversy over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas. Such a claim has no ground on international law nor on any of the 40 United Nations resolutions on the Malvinas Question, which defined the bilateral nature of the sovereignty dispute. That principle cannot be used as an excuse to relieve the UK of its duty under international law to solve the controversy peacefully by means of the resumption of negotiations with Argentina.
The refusal to dialogue conceals an unjustified British military presence in the South Atlantic, which have resulted in a growing concern of the international community, as it was expressed by different regional and bi-regional fora, as well as by countries of our sub-region which have pointed out that the presence of an extra regional power in the Malvinas Islands affects adversely the South Atlantic as a Zone of Peace and Cooperation and represents a potential threat.
Besides that, the illegitimate activities of exploration and exploitation of natural resources developed by the UK in the South Atlantic are contrary to resolution 31/49 of the UN General Assembly which calls upon the two parties to refrain from introducing unilateral modifications in the situation while the resolution to the controversy is pending. This has also been expressed by Latin American and other regional fora. Moreover, the countries of MERCOSUR and UNASUR have undertaken specific commitments not to facilitate the activities of vessels intended to directly support hydrocarbon activities that may affect the Argentine rights over its continental shelf and to prevent access to their ports by vessels that carry the Islands illegal flag. Furthermore, MERCOSUR and the Latin America Energy Organization (OLADE) have recognized the right of Argentina to take legal actions against non authorized hydrocarbon exploration activities in the area under dispute.
The peaceful recovery of the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Island and the surrounding maritime areas, respecting the lifestyle of their inhabitants and in accordance with International Law, represents a permanent and unrelinquished goal of the Argentine people, as established on the First Transitional Provision of the National Constitution. Moreover, representatives from all political parties expressed in the Declaration of Ushuaia their common stand in defense of the Argentine rights in the sovereignty dispute with the United Kingdom.
The creation of the Secretariat of Affairs Related to the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Island and the Surrounding Maritime Areas in the South Atlantic at the end of 2013 illustrates the firm commitment of the national Government to the defense of the Argentine rights and the pursue of a peaceful solution to the dispute; whilst the opening today of the Malvinas and South Atlantic Islands Museum, located in the premises of the Space for Memory and Human Rights (former ESMA), represents a clear demonstration of the political will to disseminate among the new generations the solid fundaments that sustain the national position and to remember those Argentines who gave their lives defending the Islands.
Once more, the Argentine Republic reiterates its inalienable rights over the Malvinas, South Georgias and South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime areas, as well as its strong willingness to resume as soon as possible negotiations with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as urged by the United Nations in order to find a definitive solution to so unacceptable as anachronistic colonial situation.