In a Christmas message delivered to residents of the Falkland Islands, conservative Prime Minister David Cameron has said recent elections in Argentina offer the chance for a ‘more mature relationship’ with Buenos Aires.
Insisting that the UK will always defend its support for the islander’s right to choose to be British, Cameron said he hoped the election of Mauricio Macri would herald a new era of British-Argentinian relations.
There have been frequent public spats between the leadership of the two countries over the past eight years, with the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner using the islands as a rallying call to detract from domestic issues, whilst Cameron has been happy to seize any opportunity to appear strong.
Macri won power last month and had made a campaign pledge to seek to improve the relationship with Britain whilst making it clear that he considers the islands, known in Argentina as Las Malvinas, to be an Argentine territory.
Cameron rejects this notion and said in his message:
“I’ve spoken myself with President Macri, and while I am eager to improve Argentine relations, for the benefit of all, I am clear that this does not and will not change my government’s position on your right to self-determination. On this we are immovable.”
The two countries fought a brief war in 1982 over the islands which have been the subject of dispute for centuries.
Tensions have been higher in recent years with the Argentinian government accurately though ironically accusing the British of imperialism.