UK criticizes EU for calling Falkland Islands 'Islas Malvinas'

UK criticizes EU for calling Falkland Islands 'Islas Malvinas'

'Argentina and the EU should listen to their democratic choice,' says British foreign secretary

By Burak Bir

LONDON (AA) - Britain on Thursday firmly rejected the EU's statement referring to the Falkland Islands as "Islas Malvinas," asserting that the Falkland Islands are British territory.

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has criticized the EU for its "regrettable choice of words" after Brussels seemingly backed the name that Argentina uses for the Islands.

This comes after the bloc supported an Argentina-backed declaration referring to Islas Malvinas at a summit of EU leaders with Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAC) leaders on Tuesday.

"The prime minister’s view is that it would have been entirely unacceptable for the EU to question the Falkland islanders’ right to decide their own future," according to Sunak’s spokesperson.

"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."

The spokesperson recalled the 2013 referendum in the Falklands that resulted in 99.8% in favor of the status as an overseas territory of the UK.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly also pointed to the referendum, saying the Falkland Islanders have the right to choose their own future.

"Argentina and the EU should listen to their democratic choice," he said on Twitter.

Meanwhile, the Falkland Islands government joined the UK, criticizing the EU, stressing that they "remain clear on their name," and news from Brussels "changes nothing."

"We are hugely disappointed that it has been decided, without input from the Falkland Islands or the UK government, to refer to our Islands by a name that has been given to us by our aggressive and hostile neighbour, Argentina," Teslyn Barkman, deputy chair of the Legislative Assembly, said in a statement.

Saying that the Islands remain clear that discussions on its sovereignty are "non-negotiable," she stressed that they are also clear in their desire to remain as a "British Overseas Territory".

"We urge EU member states and others to respect our wishes and our right to self-determination, which is a fundamental right enshrined in article one of the Charter of the United Nations," added Barkman.

Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the islands it calls Las Malvinas. A conflict in 1982 claimed the lives of 255 British servicemen, three islanders and 649 Argentine personnel.

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