Rishi Sunak’s Christmas speech has reaffirmed the UK’s support for “self-determination” for the Falkland Islands and paid tribute to “those who fought to keep the Falklands free”. Argentine official Guillermo Carmona labeled Sunak’s speech as “regrettable” and noted that the Argentine Republic recognizes for its residents “the civil, social and economic rights that correspond to all the inhabitants of our country”.
The sovereignty of the British overseas territory remains disputed by Argentina despite a brief conflict 40 years ago in 1982.
Argentina claims the territory of the islands, which it calls the Malvinas. after it inherited the land from the Spanish crown in the early 1800s.
However, Britain claims its right to the Falklands due to its long-term control of the region and on the basis of self-determination for the islanders, the majority of whom are of British descent.
Mr Sunak said in his address: “Hello everybody! This has been an extraordinary year. From Stanley to Portsmouth, we honored those who fought to keep the Falklands free 40 years ago.
“We remembered those who lost their lives, we celebrated the moment when the Union Jack was raised at Government House once again, and we pledged our continued commitment to you self-determination.”
He continued: “Four decades on, the Falklands are a thriving home to people of more than 60 nationalities.
“If this was the year we were united in our remembrance of 1982, it was also the year we were united in our grief at the passing of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
“So, it is a great pleasure to be the first Prime Minister to send season’s greetings to the ‘city dwellers’ of Stanley – and to people across the whole Falkland Islands. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
“Let’s join together in raising a toast to His Majesty King Charles III, and to your place in our great British family.”
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Mr Carmona, the Secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic accused the Prime Minister of “reaffirming the British colonial policy and trying to misrepresent reality”.
On Twitter, he said: “It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister uses the occasion of a Christmas greeting to reaffirm the British colonial policy in relation to the Malvinas against international law and to try to misrepresent the national reality.”
On this subject, he previously said: “The claim of the British PM of a supposed right of self-determination for those who inhabit our islands from and thanks to the violation of Argentine territorial integrity, with the addition of being British subjects, is contrary to international law.”
Speaking of the reassertion of British sovereignty over the Falkland Islands in 1833, Mr Carmona said that “the Argentine authorities and residents were violently evicted by military force, giving rise to the introduction of British subjects”.
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He accused the British Government of having “an absolutely restrictive and discriminatory immigration policy towards Argentines”.
Mr Sunak’s declaration that over 60 nationalities live on the Islands was described as a “fallacy” by Carmona.
He added: “It has been evidenced in the recent decision of the British government to limit the vote on the islands to those who have island status, which implies a restriction on citizen participation to anyone who is not British, in an essentially colonial regime that they are trying to give a democratic façade.”
Mr Carmona urged the British Government “to contribute to peace and harmony in the world by resuming negotiations on the question of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands”.
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.