Sunak criticizes EU for calling Falkland Islands ‘Islas Malvinas'
The British Prime Minister called the European Union's decision to use Argentina's name for the disputed islands "regrettable."
Rishi Sunak has slammed the EU for its "regrettable choice of words" as it appeared to support Argentina's naming for the Falkland Islands, which Argentina refers to as the Malvinas Islands.
The Argentinian-backed declaration that used the name Islas Malvinas alongside the Falkland Islands was used at a conference in Brussels.
UK officials have asked the EU to "clarify" its position, while Argentina praised the declaration as a "diplomatic triumph" following a summit of EU leaders with counterparts from the CELAC group of Latin America and the Caribbean on Tuesday.
A representative for the European External Action Agency, the EU's diplomatic agency, later stated that the bloc's position on the disputed archipelago had not altered because there had been no approval from member states.
A spokesperson for Sunak noted that per the PM's view "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 EU has rightly now clarified that their position on the Falklands has not changed after their regrettable choice of words.”
In a 2013 referendum, 99.8% of the inhabitants voted to retain the island's status as a UK territory, the spokesperson added.
The declaration stated in part that "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.”
Argentina's Foreign Minister, Santiago Cafiero, announced on Wednesday that his country intended to "further expand dialogue" with the EU on the islands issue "off the back of this declaration," adding that the declaration "constitutes a further call from the international community for the UK to agree to meet its obligation to resume sovereignty negotiations with Argentina.”
Argentina took the decision to withdraw from a cooperation pact with the United Kingdom in March and called for new talks with London to discuss the sovereignty of the disputed Malvinas Islands, a move that drew intense criticism from the UK government.
Where are the Malvinas Islands?
Situated just over 480 km from the Argentine coast, the Malvinas Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean.
Argentina and the UK fought a 10-week war over the archipelago, occupied by the UK since 1833, in April-June 1982. The UK prevailed with the help of its allies, notably Chile.
Over the years, the Argentinean government stepped up efforts to regain control over the islands, which hold an estimated 3,200 people from 60 countries.
The two sides agreed to disagree about sovereignty in 2016, but chose to cooperate on issues like energy, shipping and fishing.