Falklands War hero slams EU for calling islands the 'Islas Malvinas', the Argentinian name

20 July 2023, 17:03 | Updated: 20 July 2023, 17:21

Simon Weston has slammed the EU for calling the Falkland Islands Islas Malvinas
Simon Weston has slammed the EU for calling the Falkland Islands Islas Malvinas. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

A Falklands war hero has hit out at the EU for adopting the Argentinian name for the south Atlantic islands.

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The EU provoked fury in London after it signed a deal with Argentina, referring to the Falkland Islands as "Islas Malvinas". The bloc has since backed down.

Buenos Aires boasted of the move as being a "diplomatic triumph" and said it hoped to expand talks with the bloc on the "question" of the archipelago.

The Foreign Office strongly opposed any reference to the islands with Argentina's preferred name.

The vast majority of Falklands islands residents have consistently said they want to be British subjects. 99.8% residents voted to remain an overseas territory of the UK in a 2013 referendum.

Read more: 'Entirely unacceptable': EU backs down in diplomatic row after calling Falkland Islands by Argentine name

Read more: Gleeful Argentinians chant 'f*** the English' in Falklands War chant after World Cup semi-final victory

Falkland war hero and veteran Simon Weston
Falkland war hero and veteran Simon Weston. Picture: Alamy

The UK and Argentina fought a war in 1982 after the South American nation invaded the islands, which are about 300 miles off the coast.

Rishi Sunak's spokesperson said it would be "entirely unacceptable for the EU to question the Falkland Islanders' right to decide their own future".

Former Welsh Guardsman Mr Weston, who suffered severe burns when the RFA Sir Galahad troop carrier he was on was bombed by Argentine fighters during the war, told the Mirror: "It’s very disappointing for the islanders - they have every right to live their lives peacefully, quietly getting on with their own industry everyday.

"Argentina has been working on this for a long time, building a cabal of nations in South America."

He added: “Is this a kick in the shins to Britain because of Brexit? It’s happened, move on."

Caller objects to the EU's decision to sign the deal using the Falklands' Argentine name

Mr Sunak's spokesperson said: "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.

"And just as a reminder, in the 2013 referendum, 99.8% of islanders voted to be part of the UK family. It's a position supported by international law and the UN Charter which is binding on all UN members.

"And we will continue to defend the Falklands' right to self-determination in all international forums and have called on the EU to respect the democratic rights of the Falkland Islands."

On 14th June 1982, the British Forces marched in to Stanley in the Falkland Islands, liberating the town from the invasion of the Argentinian army
On 14th June 1982, the British Forces marched in to Stanley in the Falkland Islands, liberating the town from the invasion of the Argentinian army. Picture: Alamy

Gavin Short, ember of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, said the news had "gone down a bit like a lead balloon in the Falklands."

He told LBC's Ben Kentish: "We’re quite used to the Argentines using just about any wording they can to sneak this sort of wording in.

"We find it rather sad that the EU which of course has a war going on on its borders in Ukraine, shouldn’t be more alive to this sort of language, because the EU should really be standing up for people’s human rights and freedoms… all over the world."

Teslyn Barkman, deputy chairman of the Legislative Assembly, said: "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.

"We remain clear that discussions on our sovereignty are non-negotiable. Falkland Islanders are clear in their desire to remain as a British Overseas Territory and our commitment to being part of the UK family, living in freedom under the government of our choice."

Britain lost 255 servicemen retaking the south Atlantic territory after Argentina's military junta invaded. Some 649 Argentinians were killed. Three Falkland Islanders died.

Although the UK decisively won the fight and ensured the Falklands' status as an overseas territory, the issue has never gone away for Buenos Aires.

Securing the use of the phrase "Islas Malvinas" in an agreement with the EU will only embolden its hopes of absorbing the islands.

The wording came in a joint declaration between the EU and Celac, a bloc of 33 countries in Latin America.

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