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Falkland Islands: Argentina demands international support in bid to reclaim territory

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The governor of the Tierra del Fuego province said the UK’s presence on the islands was still rejected almost 40 years after the conflict which claimed the lives 255 British military personnel, 649 members of the Argentine armed forces and three Falkland Islanders.

We must continue asking for international support on our fight to recover sovereignty over the Malvinas

Gustavo Melella

Speaking after the opening of the general debate of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Governor Gustavo Melella said: “We must continue asking for international support on our fight to recover sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.”

Mr Melella’s comments came after Argentine President Alberto Fernández claimed the “legitimate and imprescriptible sovereignty rights of Argentina over the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and the surrounding maritime spaces” in a pre-recorded speech submitted to the General Assembly.

Mr Melella said: “We sent a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations General Assembly, Antonio Guterres, to whom we explained that our country has repeatedly stressed that the growing British militarisation is contrary to the search for a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute, which constitutes an affront to the entire region and creates unnecessary tension in the South Atlantic.”

He continued: “I believe that we must continue to insist on our claim in all international forums and any opportunity that presents itself to us.

“President Alberto Fernández has requested Guterres to renew his efforts in the mission of good offices entrusted to him by the UN, so that he can comply with the provisions of the international community in relation to the issue of the Malvinas Islands.

“With more conviction than ever, we will continue to uphold the rejection of the British military presence in the South Atlantic, striving for international support in this regard.

“This has already been manifested in numerous regional schemes under the premise that this presence is contrary to the policy of the region, always attached to the search for a peaceful solution to the sovereignty dispute.”

Earlier, the Argentine president had told delegates: “I want to reaffirm the legitimate and imprescriptible sovereign rights of the Argentine Republic over the Malvinas, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and the surrounding maritime spaces, which are an integral part of the national territory of Argentina and which have been illegally occupied by the United Kingdom for more than 187 years.

“This year it will be the 55th anniversary of resolution 2065, the first one adopted by this organisation on this issue, which asked Argentina and the United Kingdom to hold negotiations that would allow reaching a peaceful and definitive solution to this sovereignty dispute.

“That order has remained in force and has been renewed many times.”

Mr Fernandez also referred to a resolution passed unanimously by the UN’s special decolonisation committee, known as C24, on August 5, calling for both sides to engage in a fresh round of negotiations over the future of the islands.

He said: “The United Kingdom persists in its attitude of ignoring the call to resume negotiations regarding the territorial dispute and has aggravated the controversy over calls for the illegal and unilateral exploitation of renewable and non-renewable natural resources in the area, which is contrary to resolution 31/49 of this assembly.

“The UK also insists on the excessive and unjustified military presence on the islands that does nothing more than bringing tension to a region characterised by being a zone of peace and international cooperation.”

Argentina has made frequent attempts to use the UN as a way of strengthening its claim over the Falklands over the years, with little success.

And Mr Fernandez’s decision to focus on his country’s quest for sovereignty of the Falkland Islands during his address to the United Nations was dismissed as foolish and “unbelievably boring” by Tory MP Andrew Rosindell.

Mr Rosindell, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories, told “With world leaders still dealing with a pandemic that has cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, there is much for them to talk about at the United Nations’ 75th General Assembly.

“For Argentina, where there is currently a nationwide quarantine until October 11, and where 470 deaths were tragically recorded on Tuesday, the speech of their President should have been particularly important.

“Unfortunately and inexplicably, President Alberto Fernandez used some of his precious time at the electronic podium talking about the Falkland Islands, in a foolish attempt to distract from the enormous problems he faces at home.”

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He continued: “This is tiresome, tedious politics. The UK Government is absolutely clear that the future of the Falkland Islands is up to the people of the Falkland Islands.

“In 2013, the Falkland Islands emphatically told the Argentinian government that they are proud to be British and intend to remain British.

“On a turnout of 92 percent, just three people voted against remaining as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.

“It is unbelievably boring to have to continuously remind the Argentinian government of this basic, democratic right to self-determination.”

(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)

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