Leaders of the European Union and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC, for its Spanish initials) referred to the dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Malvinas Islands, highlighting the importance of a “peaceful solution” to the issue, in the closing statement of their two-day summit. It is the first time the EU has included the dispute in a closing declaration at an international forum.
The UK refers to them as the Falkland Islands, but this name is strongly contested by Argentina.
Heads of state and top officials from EU and CELAC countries gathered this week at a summit in Brussels on July 17 and 18 to discuss key issues on relations between Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean, among them climate change, the energy transition and the possibility of investments and bilateral agreements.
“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,” reads point 13 of the statement released following the two-day summit this week in Brussels.
The text, formally the Declaration of the EU-CELAC Summit 2023, also said that EU and CELAC leaders are committed to the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, “including the sovereign equality of all States and respect for their territorial integrity, and political independence, resolution of disputes by peaceful means and in conformity with the principles of justice and international law.”
Argentine Foreign Affairs minister Santiago Cafiero said that the joint statement is “a new calling from the international community towards the UK that it comply with its obligation to reinitiate sovereignty negotiations with Argentina,” and reiterated the Argentine government’s expectations of deepening dialogue with the EU regarding the Malvinas issue.
Guillermo Carmona, Malvinas, Antarctica and Southern Atlantic Secretary of the Argentina government, told news agency Télam the pronouncement was “highly important, as it is the first time [the EU] mentions the issue of Malvinas.”
According to Carmona, until 2021, the EU considered the Malvinas Islands, South Georgia, and the South Sandwich Islands (territory the UK also claims as its own) as EU overseas territory, and its hesitance to address Argentina’s sovereignty claims started to thaw after the UK left the European Union in 2020.
The Argentine government official also said that the British government tried to intervene once it learned that the EU-CELAC leaders were considering mentioning the Malvinas dispute. “They were very active and pressured for it to be left out,” he said to 530 AM Radio station.
Contacted by the Herald, a spokesperson for the British Foreign Office said that the UK’s position is to “continue defending the Falklands’ right to self-determination in all international forums.”
“The Falkland Islands have made clear their wish to remain British and it is for them alone to decide their future. This is a position supported by international law and the UN Charter, which is binding on all UN members. All countries should recognise the right of the Falkland Islanders to decide their own future”, they said.
Argentina’s position is that the self-determination argument cannot be applied to the situation in the Malvinas because the UK has occupied the territories, and thus has long controlled migration to and from the islands.
Although the UK refers to the territory as the “Falklands Islands,” Argentina strongly contests this name. The Buenos Aires Herald refers to the islands as the Malvinas Islands.