Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has released a public letter urging the United Kingdom to relinquish its control over the disputed Falkland Islands.
She accused Britain of taking part in an act of “blatant colonialism” in claiming the archipelago and called on UK Prime Minister David Cameron to honour UN resolutions that indicate both sides should sit at the negotiating table to discuss the sovereignty of the Falklands.
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“One-hundred-and-eighty years ago on the same date, January 3rd, in a blatant exercise of 19th-century colonialism, Argentina was forcibly stripped of the Malvinas Islands, which are situated 14,000km away from London,” Kirchner says in the letter, copied to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Meanwhile, Argentine veterans from the Falkland War, a conflict in 1982 between the UK and Argetina, gathered outside the British embassy in Buenos Aires on Thursday to mark the 180th anniversary of what they call the British occupation of the islands.
The veterans delivered a letter addressed to the British Ambassador in Argentina, John Freeman, criticising the British government for refusing to discuss the sovereignty of the islands with the Argentine government.
Diego Guelar, an Argentine politician who is a member of the opposition Pro party, told Al Jazeera that there is a unanimous agreement among the Argentine people that Argentina has a rightful claim over Falkland islands.
“In this issue, there is no government and opposition, all Argentinians support the idea to recover this important part of our territory that we have been claiming for 180 years,” he said.
“We hope that finally the British are going to accept the decisions of the General Assembly of the United Nations that indicate very clearly that both sides have to sit at the table to discuss the sovereignty issue.”
Britain asserted control of the south Atlantic islands by placing a naval garrison there in 1833.
Britain and Argentina fought a brief war in 1982 after Argentina invaded the islands. More than 900 people died, most of them Argentines.
Cameron rebuffed the Argentine president’s demand that the islands be handed over.
“The future of the Falkland Islands should be determined by the Falkland Islanders themselves, the people who live there,” Cameron said.
He said Kirchner should pay heed to the result of a referendum to be held on the islands this year, noting that whenever the islanders “have been asked their opinion, they say they want to maintain their current status with the United Kingdom.”
But many in Argentina believe their country holds historical sovereignty over the islands, and welcomed their presidents strong action.
“I think what the government has done is perfect. They are reminding them (British government) we will not stop demanding Argentina’s sovereignty in the Falklands,” said one Buenos Aires resident.
The government of the Falklands Islands attacked Kirchner’s letter as “historically inaccurate”, saying that it had chosen its relationship status with the UK.
The islands have a right, enshrined in the UN charter, to determine their own future and have exercised that to retain links with the UK, the Falkland Islands government said in a statement.