Argentine president slams Falklands vote as ‘parody’
Agence France-Presse in Buenos Aires
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner on Tuesday slammed as a “parody” the referendum in the disputed Falkland islands, where residents voted in favour of remaining a British overseas territory.
“What is important today is the United States’ position about this kind of parody of a referendum,” Kirchner said at the Casa Rosada presidential mansion.
“The State Department spokeswoman said that they continue to recognise that there is a sovereignty dispute between Argentina and Britain,” she said, even though Washington is London’s most powerful ally.
US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland “stated that what they did (residents of the islands) does not change the United States’ diplomatic stand, which always has been to support a diplomatic resolution of the conflict through dialogue,” Kirchner stressed.
Argentina, which has claimed the South Atlantic islands since 1833, wants the United Nations to mediate in a dialogue that would end their disputed sovereignty. Britain has refused UN requests that it take part in such dialogue.
British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier urged Argentina to respect the wishes of the Falkland Islanders. A near unanimous 99.8 per cent of the 1,672 eligible voters in the disputed South Atlantic archipelago voted “yes” during balloting on Sunday and Monday, according to official results, with a 92 per cent turnout.
Only three of the 1,517 valid ballots were cast against staying an internally self-governing British territory.
The islanders organised the vote in response to increasingly bellicose sovereignty rhetoric by Kirchner.
Her government dismissed the referendum as meaningless and said it would not affect its claims on the Falklands, which it failed to seize back from Britain in a brief but bloody war in 1982.
Tensions between the two sides have increased in recent years against a backdrop of the discovery of oil reserves in the waters off the Falklands, the 30th anniversary of the war and domestic political difficulties facing both governments.
Falklanders had hoped the referendum result will arm them with an unambiguous message to take to other capitals when pressing their case for acceptance on the international stage.