LONDON – The UK Foreign Ministry summoned Argentine Ambassador Alicia Castro to object recent remarks regarding the Falkland Islands, a spokesman from the ministry told Efe on Thursday.
“We object strongly to recent statements by the Argentine president and the Argentine ambassador to London, and so summoned the ambassador to account for these,” said the spokesman, clarifying that Costa was summoned on Wednesday.
Tensions between the countries have run high since the 1982 Falklands War over the islands’ disputed sovereignty, while relations were further strained after Britain announced that it would boost the defenses of the island chain, known in Latin America as the Malvinas Islands.
The spokesman added that Britain “has no doubt about its sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and surrounding maritime areas, nor about the Falkland Islanders’ right to decide their own future.”
Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Ambassador Alicia Castro criticized London’s recent decision to invest 180 million pounds (268 million dollars) to boost Falkland defenses over the next 10 years, announced only a few weeks before the upcoming UK general elections on May 7.
Marking the 33rd anniversary of the start of the Falkland conflict in the South Atlantic, Fernandez urged the British government to “not put a pound” into military spending to defend the Falklands, and requested the funds to be used to “feed Englishmen” instead.
Likewise, Alicia Castro wrote in The Independent newspaper that David Cameron “is trying to raise the spectre of 1982 in order to reawaken the figure of Margaret Thatcher, who gained a tremendous electoral boost from that war.”
Part of the defense upgrade will include the sending of Chinooks helicopters, expected to be operational by the middle of the year and modernizing air defense systems, among other measures.
Helicopters can react immediately to any “emergency incident,” and can help facilitate infantry training on the islands, occupied by some 3,000 people, mostly of British origin, a government statement explained.
Cristina Fernandez’s administration has strengthened its position on the Argentine claim to the islands, while in March 2013, nearly 100 percent of the islanders voted in favor of maintaining British sovereignty.