Argentina has furiously accused Britain of flouting international law after it ripped up a cooperation pact with the UK and demanded new talks over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
But in response, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly insisted that ‘the Falkland Islands are British’.
The Falklands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina, were the subject of a short but brutal war after Argentina invaded in 1982.
Britain drove off the invaders after sending in a naval armada, but the issue was never considered resolved in Buenos Aires.
In 2016, the two sides agreed to disagree over sovereignty, but to cooperate on energy, shipping and fisheries, and in identifying the remains of unknown Argentine soldiers killed in battle.
But during the G20 talks in New Delhi, Argentina’s Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero delivered a note to Cleverly saying his government was giving up on the pact.
The UK-ruled Falkland Islands, known in Spanish as the Malvinas, were the subject of a short but brutal war after Argentina invaded in 1982. Britain drove off the invading force after sending in a naval armada. Pictured: British troops patrolled the Falkland Islands last year
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly (pictured at the G20 summit on Thursday) insisted that ‘the Falkland Islands are British’
Then, in a series of tweets, he renewed Argentina’s long-standing demands for negotiations over the islands’ sovereignty at the UN in New York.
The Foradori-Duncan Agreement, named after Argentine and British signatories Carlos Foradori and Alan Duncan, was signed between the two nations in 2016, when Theresa May was Britain’s Prime Minister.
‘The [Foradori-Duncan] agreement stopped and washed away any discussion of sovereignty,” said Camila Bonetti, spokesperson for the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic Secretariat, and a Malvinas academic researcher. “It only made concessions regarding the exploitation of resources on the islands and our waters.”
After his meeting with Cafiero at the G20 in India, Mr Cleverly said: ‘The Falkland Islands are British. Islanders have the right to decide their own future – they have chosen to remain a self-governing British Overseas Territory.”
A 2013 referendum on the islands resulted in a 99.8 per cent vote to remain British.
Argentina’s move was announced just as Britain’s America Secretary David Rutley visited Buenos Aires for what he called “productive” meetings.
“Argentina has chosen to move away from an agreement that has brought comfort to the families of those killed in the 1982 conflict,” Rutley tweeted, calling the decision disappointing.
“Argentina, the UK and the Falklands have all benefited from this agreement,” he said.
But in his note, Cafiero told Cleverly that Argentina had “tried to cooperate on concrete issues such as flights, scientific activities in Antarctica or conservation and conservation of fish stocks” without seeing the same willingness from the UK.”
The note also accused Britain of “consistently” carrying out “unilateral acts, which have been duly and timely protested by the Argentine Republic.”
“All the while, the British government has systematically refused to resume sovereignty negotiations, which the United Nations has repeatedly urged,” it added.
Now another diplomatic row over the islands is bubbling to the surface.
“In 2016, Argentina and the United Kingdom reached a historic agreement that, among other things, kick-started the process of identifying those who died on the islands after more than 30 years,” Kirsty Hayes, the British ambassador to Argentina, wrote on Twitter.
“We regret that the Argentine government has now decided to abandon this important agreement.”
Guillermo Carmona, an Argentine lawyer and secretary of Malvinas Affairs, responded directly to Ms Hayes on the social media platform.
“Dear Ambassador @AmbKirstyHayes,” he wrote. ‘That is unfortunate [she] is trying to relay the identification process of the #Malvinas victims as part of a joint communiqué. It is an obligation of international humanitarian law enshrined in an agreement between the UK, ARG and the ICRC.”
He said the process to identify victims predates 2016.
Statements like this betray your government’s unwillingness to abide by international law. That his proposal falls within the framework of humanitarian obligations is not only regrettable, but also unacceptable,” he wrote.
“We reiterate the will of the Argentine government to resume negotiations on the sovereignty issue. Please do not turn humanitarian aid into a barter for other interests that dehumanize the identification projects of the fallen,” he said.
Both countries last year marked the 40th anniversary of the 1982 conflict, which claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British servicemen and three women living on the island.
Tensions over the war remain. Last year, an Argentine song insulting the English over the Falklands War became the country’s most popular song on Spotify after a video of Lionel Messi’s team singing it during the World Cup went viral.
A video emerged of cheering Argentine players taking off their shirts as they mocked Brazil and England in the song after beating Croatia in the semi-finals of the World Cup. The team went on to win the World Cup, defeating France in the final.
In 1982, the Falkland Islands were invaded by Argentine troops who were beaten back in a ten-week war at the behest of Margaret Thatcher. The islands were returned to British control. Pictured: British soldiers raise the flag after the war
The text contains a line that reads “Ingleses putos de Malvinas no me olvido,” which roughly translates to “f*****g English in the Falklands, I don’t forget.”
The word ‘putos’ to describe the English often has homophobic connotations and can also mean cowards, while the Falklands are referred to by their Spanish name ‘Las Malvinas’.
Argentina still claims sovereignty over the Falklands, despite it being a British Overseas Territory since 1833.
But Argentina claims it acquired the Falklands from Spain in 1816 before Britain asserted its rule.
In 1982, the archipelago was invaded by Argentine forces who were defeated in a ten-week war ordered by Margaret Thatcher and the islands were returned to British control.
In fierce fighting on land, air and sea, a total of seven British ships were lost, including the Sir Galahad, HMS Coventry and HMS Sheffield, which were hit by an Exocet anti-ship missile.