Demand for new negotiations to get underway “as soon as possible” were issued at an Ibero-American summit featuring the 19 nations of the Latin American region plus Spain, Portugal and Andorra. The Ibero-American countries claimed the reinforcement Britain’s military presence and planned naval drills off the Falklands were in violation of the provisions of the United Nations and was incompatible with the search for a peaceful solution to the ongoing sovereignty dispute.
The group’s position was welcomed by Argentina’s Falkland Islands minister Damiel Filmus.
He said: “We underline the importance of this summit having recalled, in accordance with UN resolutions, the call to the United Kingdom to refrain from unilaterally modifying the situation in Malvinas, in relation to the exploitation of natural resources that it has been carrying out.”
In a special statement from the summit, the Ibero-American governments reaffirmed “the need for the governments of the Argentine Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” to resume dialogue.
According to the statement, these discussions should take place “within the framework of the resolutions of the United Nations, the Organisation of American States and the provisions and objectives of the United Nations Charter, including the principle of territorial integrity.”
They also recalled the “calls” of the international community to refrain from adopting “unilateral” decisions in reference to actions for the exploration and exploitation of renewable and non-renewable resources the UK “has been carrying out in the disputed area”.
They said “the reinforcement of the military presence in the area of dispute” was “incompatible with the policy of searching for a peaceful solution”.
The statement said it also wanted to highlight “the permanent constructive attitude and willingness of the Argentine Government to reach a definitive solution to this colonial situation, as defined by the United Nations, through negotiations”.
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The Ibero-American summit came after Britain announced plans to conduct missile tests in the Falkland Islands, prompting Buenos Airies to threaten to lodge a complaint with the United Nations against what it describes as an “unjustified show of force”.
The Rapier missiles will be tested on a yet-to-be-specified date but the plans have already triggered an angry reaction President Alberto Fernandez’s government.
A statement issued by Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said: “Argentina rejects in the strongest terms the carrying out of military manoeuvres, and the launching of missiles in particular, in Argentine territory illegitimately occupied by the United Kingdom.”
The statement claimed the tests were an “unjustified show of force and a deliberate departure from the appeals” for Argentina and the UK to resume negotiations over the sovereignty of the islands.
Argentina claimed the tests would contravene a United Nations resolution which urges both parties to refrain from adopting “unilateral decisions that involve the introduction of modifications in the situation while the islands are going through the negotiation process”.
It further claims the UK’s military presence in the region and the launch of missiles contradicted another UN resolution which calls for the both countries ”to honour the South Atlantic region as a zone of peace and cooperation”.
The Falklands are a British overseas territory, and home to roughly 3,000 people.
Argentina launched an invasion in 1982, prompting then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to dispatch a task force to reclaim the islands, which it did after a ten-week war in which almost 1,000 lives were lost.
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The election of Mr Fernandez has seen Buenos Aires step up its sovereignty claim, with the President raising the issue during his pre-recorded address to the United Nations General Assembly last year.
In response, Andrew Rosindell, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the British Overseas Territories and the MP for Romford in Essex, told Express.co.uk: “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.”
(Additional reporting by Maria Ortega)