Argentina and Falkland Islanders face off at United Nations
Argentine President Kirchner calls UK rule of Falklands ‘an affront’ as islanders’ offer of direct talks is ignored
ARGENTINA’S President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner made a highly unusual appearance at the United Nations decolonisation committee yesterday, where she argued that the Falklands Islands are Argentine territory and should not be under British rule.
Fernandez's decision to speak to a committee that is typically the realm of mid-ranking diplomats is the latest move in her wide-ranging diplomatic offensive to assert her country's claims to the islands, which are part of Britain's self-governing overseas territories.
United Nations envoys said Fernandez had asked the Special Committee on Decolonisation to hold a session on the islands on 14 June - the 30th anniversary of Britain's 1982 victory in the 10-week war over the Falklands that ended Argentina's brief occupation of the territory, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Fernandez told the committee the fact that ‘Las Malvinas’ remain under British rule and are not part of Argentina is "an affront to the world which we all dream of”. She asked: “How can it be part of British territory when it's 14,000 miles away?"
Fernandez, who spoke for nearly an hour, repeated Buenos Aires' allegations that Britain has militarised the southwest Atlantic in recent months, a charge London denies.
Earlier, Fernandez met with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who reiterated his offer to mediate in Argentina's dispute with Britain if the two sides request it. The UK says it will agree to talks only if the 3,000 islanders want them - something they show no sign of doing, says the BBC.
Roger Edwards, a member of the Falkland Islands' Legislative Assembly, told the committee his peoples’ right of self-determination was guaranteed under the UN charter and would be exercised in a referendum early next year on whether to retain British rule.
"Today, therefore, all that we ask for is the right to determine our own future without having to endure the belligerent and bullying tactics of a neighbouring country," he said. He also cited an opinion poll that found 96 per cent of the islanders wanted to keep British rule.
In an extraordinary scene, another Falklands legislator, Mike Summers, tried to pass a letter offering talks with the islands’ government to President Fernandez but could not get close enough. Argentina's foreign minister refused to take the document, telling the legislator to "send it to my embassy".
Meanwhile, in London, Prime Minister David Cameron warned Argentina that the UK is "ready and willing" to defend the Falkland Islands, The Independent says. Cameron also accused the Argentine government of "aggression" and said there would be "absolutely no negotiation" over sovereignty.
Cameron, speaking at a reception to commemorate the end of the war, said the Falklands was enjoying economic growth and industries such as tourism and fishing were thriving. "There is only one shadow on the horizon. And that is the aggression from over the water,” he said.