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File image of Port Stanley, captial of the Falklands. Alamy Stock Photo
Islas Malvinas

Rishi Sunak criticises EU after it signs deal using Falklands’ Argentine name

The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs hailed it as a ‘triumph of Argentine diplomacy’.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Jul 2023

UK PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak has criticised the EU for a “regrettable choice of words” after an Argentina-backed declaration communication referred to the Falkland Islands as Islas Malvinas.

Sunak’s official spokesperson said that it was the PM’s view that “it would have been entirely unacceptable for the EU to question the Falkland Islanders’ right to decide their own future”.

“To be clear, the Falkland Islands are British, that was the choice of the islanders themselves,” the spokesperson said.

 “The EU has rightly now clarified that their position on the Falklands has not changed after their regrettable choice of words.”

Earlier, the UK called on the EU to reverse a decision to endorse the declaration. 

Islas Malvinas is the Argentine name for the disputed territory.

On Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, the EU met with the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

It was the third EU-CELAC summit.

Part of the declaration arising from this summit read: “Regarding the question of sovereignty over the Islas Malvinas / Falkland Islands, the European Union took note of CELAC’s historical position based on the importance of dialogue and respect for international law in the peaceful solution of disputes.”

The Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs hailed it as a “triumph of Argentine diplomacy” and added: “For the first time the European Union and CELAC adopted a motion on the Malvinas Question.”

The Financial Times reported that British diplomats have called on European Council president Charles Michel to “clarify” the bloc’s position after Argentina hailed the move as a diplomatic triumph.

An EU official told the Financial Times: “The UK is not part of the EU. They are upset by the use of the word Malvinas. If they were in the EU perhaps they would have pushed back against it.”

The EU official added that “the Argentines have spun it in a certain way”.

Sunak’s spokesperson said today:

“And just as a reminder, in the 2013 referendum, 99.8% of islanders voted to be part of the UK family. It’s a position supported by international law and the UN Charter which is binding on all UN members.

“And we will continue to defend the Falklands’ right to self-determination in all international forums and have called on the EU to respect the democratic rights of the Falkland Islands.”

He added:

The concern is any suggestion that EU states would recognise Argentina’s claims on the Falklands, which they have now clarified is incorrect.

A source close to British foreign secretary James Cleverly told the FT: “The Argentine government can lobby whoever they wish but it doesn’t change the fact that the Falkland Islands are British. That is the clear will of the Falkland Islanders.

Elsewhere, a spokesman for the EU’s diplomatic service – the European External Action Service – clarified that “the EU member states have not changed their views/positions concerning the Falklands/Malvinas Islands”.

“The EU is not in a situation to express any position on the Falklands/Malvinas, as there has not been any council [of member states] discussion or decision on this matter.”

Britain’s sovereignty claim to the islands, known in the Spanish-speaking world as the Malvinas, dates back to 1765 and it has held permanent administration since 1833.

Britain and Argentina fought a short but bloody war over the land in the South Atlantic in 1982 after Argentine troops invaded and then prime minister Margaret Thatcher sent a naval task force.

The conflict claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.

In 2013, almost 100% of the Falkland Islands’ residents voted in favour of remaining under British rule.

With reporting from Press Association

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