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21 Jul, 2023 12:46

Sunak slams EU in Falklands spat

Argentina said that the EU referring to the disputed islands as ‘Islas Malvinas’ was a “diplomatic triumph”
Sunak slams EU in Falklands spat

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticized the European Union for its “regrettable choice of words” after Brussels referred to the Falkland Islands by their Argentinian name in an official document.

The term ‘Islas Malvinas’ appeared in an EU statement on Tuesday following a summit in Brussels with CELAC, a collective of 33 Latin American and Caribbean nations – Argentina included. The text called the islands, which has a population of less than 4,000, “Islas Malvinas/Falkland Islands.”

A Downing Street spokesman said in a statement on Thursday: “To be clear, the Falkland Islands are British, that was the choice of the islanders themselves.” The spokesperson also stated that 99.8% of islanders in a 2013 referendum voted in support of the UK’s stance that the archipelago is a part of its territory.

The Falkland Islands government said in a press release that it was “hugely disappointed” by the term used in the Brussels statement, and called upon the EU to refer to the islands by their “proper name.”

UK diplomats also urged the EU to clarify its stance on the South Atlantic islands. A spokesperson for the EU’s combined foreign and defense ministry, the European External Action Service (EEAS), said that the bloc’s position on territory remains unchanged. According to the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, the EU considers the Falklands to be a British overseas territory. Nonetheless, Buenos Aires has referred to the new wording as a “diplomatic triumph.”

Sunak’s office noted that “the EU has rightly now clarified that their position on the Falklands has not changed after their regrettable choice of words.” However, Argentina’s Foreign Minister, Santiago Cafiero, said on Wednesday that the South American country is keen to “further expand dialogue” about the islands’ sovereignty “off the back [of the EU’s] declaration.”

The disputed archipelago, located around 1,500km off the Argentine mainland, formed the basis for a 74-day war in 1982 on and around the islands. Buenos Aires says it has a territorial claim to the islands and that it was granted authority over them when it received its independence from Spain in 1816.

Great Britain, though, says that it has “continuously, peacefully and effectively inhabited and administered” the Falklands since 1833. A total of 655 Argentine troops were killed during the conflict, while 255 members of the British forces lost their lives. The UK regained authority over the islands on June 14, 1982 following Argentina’s surrender.