UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Argentina’s president took her country’s claim to the Falkland Islands to the United Nations on Thursday, challenging Britain in a highly emotional speech to “act more intelligently” and sit down to talk about the future of the tiny archipelago.
President Cristina Fernandez chose to appear at the annual meeting of the little-known U.N. Decolonization Committee on the 30th anniversary of Britain’s ouster of an Argentine invasion force from the Falklands, using the occasion to reiterate Argentina’s opposition to any more wars and to criticize the British prime minister’s decision to mark the day by flying the Falklands flag over his official 10 Downing Street residence.
“I felt shame from far away for them because wars are not to be celebrated or commemorated,” she said, pointing to the hundreds of deaths in the 74-day conflict over the islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas.
While accusing Britain of abusing its power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, lying about the islands’ history and acting as “a bully,” Fernandez also said she came to the U.N. “without any rancor.”
“We’re not asking for much,” she said in the first-ever appearance at the committee by a head of state. “We’re just asking to talk. … We’re not asking anyone to say ‘yes’ the Malvinas are Argentina’s.”
Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands since 1833. Britain disputes Argentina’s claim saying it ignores the wishes of the island’s 3,000 residents who have expressed a desire to remain British. Argentina maintains that the residents do not have the unilateral right to decide what they want the islands to be.
While Fernandez swept into the conference room with a delegation of more than 90 Argentines including ministers and political opponents, the Falklands was represented by the two lawmakers and six young islanders. When Fernandez was introduced, she was applauded and after her lengthy speech she received sustained applause. After the Falklands representatives spoke, there was the usual silence.
Falklands legislator Roger Edwards accused Argentina of seeking to take away the rights of the islanders and subject them to “colonialism.”
“Today all that we ask for is the right to determine our own future without the bullying tactics of a neighboring country,” he said.
Edwards said he was certain a referendum next year will show decisively that the Falkland Islanders want to maintain their links with Britain.
Fellow legislator Mike Summers said Argentina’s claims to the Falklands are based “on spurious and dubious historical ‘facts’ and interpretations” and accused “a very much larger, aggressive and uncaring neighbor” of trying to break international laws and subvert human rights “so long as it can get our land.”
But Argentine Marcelo Luis Vernet told the committee his great-great grandmother arrived in the Falklands in 1829 and he read excerpts from her diary. He accused Britain of being “a usurper” that wrenched the islands from their natural “American continent identity.”
Summers held up a letter from the Falkland Islands government inviting the Argentine government “to sit down and listen to the views of the people of the Falkland Islands and enter into a dialogue designed to find ways to cooperate in matters of mutual interest.”
He asked the Argentine delegation to invite him to deliver the invitation to Fernandez in person before the end of the session.
There was no invitation and after the session ended Summer and others pursued Fernandez, surrounded by many Argentines and security guards, through a long corridor trying to hand over the letter. She didn’t accept it, but another member of her delegation did, a British diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Argentina’s Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, asked about the letter, told reporters that Argentina wants state-to-state negotiations with Britain.
Britain has refused Argentina’s repeated calls to negotiate the islands’ sovereignty, saying it’s up to the islanders to decide.
At the end of Thursday’s meeting, the 24-member Decolonization Committee adopted by consensus a similar resolution to the ones it has approved for many years calling on Britain and Argentina to negotiate.
After the 1982 war, the islands became a self-governing British overseas territory, with a directly elected legislative assembly that oversees the local government. Islanders still have British passports and benefit from a sizeable British defense force. While a visiting British governor still has veto power over local decisions, islanders say he’s never used it.
Britain did not speak at the committee meeting, but afterward British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters “it is disappointing that the level of rhetoric from the Argentinean government has increased in recent months and we ascribe that frankly to a change in politics in Argentina rather than any other change that’s happened.”
Lyall Grant recalled that on the 20th anniversary of the Falklands War there were a lot of joint commemorative events honoring the 649 Argentines, 255 British soldiers, and three islanders who died in the war and it was done “in a very statesman-like way.”
“If one compares … it with the rhetoric that we’ve seen after the 30 years, I think it’s very disappointing,” he said.
More Related Stories
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
- Limbaugh: No one willing to impeach the first black president
- Tornado reduces Oklahoma City suburb to rubble
- AP: Toll at least 37 dead in Okla. tornado
- Entire Midwest on tornado warning
- Oregon senator proposes appeal to Monsanto Protection Act
- Supreme Court to rule on prayer at government meetings
- Beltway scandal machine breaks, knows nothing about America
- Gitmo hunger striker launches Twitter campaign
- "Hero" cop, honored by Obama, accused of double rape
- Father of gay high school student arrested for dating classmate speaks out
- Pentagon adviser pushed Anthrax drug, which his firm produced
- Conservatives A-OK with closeted Boy Scouts
- The new geography of poverty
- Promotion for NYPD cop who cost city $1.5m in settlements
- Obama to all-male university graduates: Be the best husband to "your boyfriend or partner"
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police
- Chinese hackers resume attacks against U.S.
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11