Argentinian President Mauricio Macri told EU leaders yesterday (4 July) that his country’s claim to the Falkland Islands remains unchanged following Britain’s vote to leave the EU.
“Brexit or not, our claim will never change,” Macri told reporters in Brussels after talks with European Union leaders.
Britain’s vote to leave the EU in a referendum on June 23 has cast uncertainty on the country’s global position, including whether European states would continue to back Britain’s possession of the Falklands.
Spain said after the vote that it was closer to asserting control over Gibraltar, the rocky outcrop on its southern tip, following the Brexit vote, prompting London to jump to the defence of its overseas territory.
Speaking about the Falklands, Macri added: “That is something long-lasting and we hope one day that we can discuss (the issue with Britain). It doesn’t mean that we cannot meanwhile have other cooperation with Britain.
“It is something I have already discussed with Cameron, I hope that with the next English prime minister we can find the space to start this dialogue. It will take years but it is important to start.”
Britain and Argentina fought a short but bloody war over the Falklands in the South Atlantic in 1982 after Argentine troops invaded and then prime minister Margaret Thatcher sent a naval task force.
The conflict claimed the lives of 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and three islanders.
In 2013, almost 100 percent of the Falkland Islands’ residents voted in favour of remaining under British rule.
Meeting the press with Argentinian Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra following the visit led by Macri, EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said that closer relations were already visible on three levels – globally, regionally and bilaterally.
“This is the first presidential visit to Brussels in almost twenty years from the Argentinian side and this is not coming by chance. This is the result of seven months of dedication and energy that President Macri and all his administration have put in renewing, on a completely new ground, relations with a series of international partners starting from the European Union,” Mogherini said.
As a key result of the meeting, the European Investment Bank has expressed its intention to restart full activities in Argentina, Mogherini stated. She said that the EU and Argentina are cooperating very closely with a view to the up-coming Argentinian presidency of the G20 in 2018, as well as on migration.
“We welcome the role that Argentina is playing and will continue to play on sharing the responsibility at the global level on hosting refugees. Argentina has a history of welcoming migrants and it is honouring its traditions and history in the best possible way,” Mogherini added.
The two sides are also cooperating on peace missions, the European Commission says in a press release. Argentina is an active player in UN peace missions and the EU will explore possibilities for Argentina to participate in EU CSDP missions. They also just signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow joint work in third countries on international cooperation.
Mogherini welcomed Macri’s leadership in moving forward relations between the EU and Mercosur, which led to a relaunch of negotiations on the EU-Mercosur Agreement last month. The two sides exchanged market access offers in May and negotiators met recently and agreed to hold the first round of negotiations in October.
The EU and South America’s Mercosur bloc agreed on 8 April to make another effort to get talks on a long-stalled free trade accord back on track with fresh offers to be made next month.
She also pointed out the practical cooperation at a bilateral level between the EU and Argentina on issues as diverse as energy, business, trade, investment, as well as climate change, urban and regional development, security of citizens and countering drug trafficking.