Argentina has demanded fresh talks with the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, an archipelago in the South Atlantic that sparked a war between the two countries in 1982.
Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero “formulated a proposal to restart negotiations for sovereignty” over the question of the islands when he and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly met on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in India last week, his ministry said in a statement.
The archipelago is known in English as the Falkland Islands.
In a series of tweets, Cafiero said he told Cleverly that Argentina had decided to pull out of a 2016 deal in which the two countries agreed to disagree about sovereignty and cooperate on a variety of issues.
Last year was the 40th anniversary of the 1982 conflict, which claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British servicemen, and three local women.
In his tweets, Cafiero reiterated Argentina’s sovereignty over the archipelago and its long-standing demands for negotiations at the United Nations. He proposed talks in line with a 1965 UN General Assembly resolution that encouraged the UK and Argentina to find a peaceful solution to the dispute.
The Malvinas Islands are located 460 kilometers east of Argentina’s mainland and are considered an integral part of the province of Tierra del Fuego, Antarctica, and the South Atlantic Islands. The islands have been under British rule since colonialists planted their flags there in 1833.
Reestablishing sovereignty over the islands has become a heartfelt cause for Argentinians. Streets, squares, parks, airports, hospitals and sports stadiums, among other public venues, have been named for the islands in nostalgic tribute. Many women born in 1982 were named “Malvina” or “Soledad” in homage to the archipelago’s two main islands.
While the 2016 deal sought to improve cooperation in the South Atlantic, both the UK and Argentina continued to claim sovereignty over the islands.
The UK government has called Argentina’s latest decision “disappointing”. However, Argentina’s demand to restart negotiations on the issue of sovereignty while respecting the English-speaking islanders’ way of life has gained UN support since 1965, and it has been unanimously promoted by successive Argentine governments regardless of their political leanings.
China, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, has said the question of the Malvinas is essentially a legacy of colonialism.
Beijing’s position has been consistent, Geng Shuang, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, said in a session of the UN Special Committee on Decolonization in 2021. It firmly supports Argentina’s sovereignty claim on the Malvinas, he said.
“China has always maintained that territorial disputes between countries should be resolved through peaceful negotiation in line with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter,” Geng said. “We hope the UK will actively respond to Argentina’s request and start dialogue and negotiations as soon as possible with a view to finding a peaceful, just and lasting solution in accordance with relevant UN resolutions.”