Argentina has reacted angrily to remarks by David Cameron as tension rises once more over the Falkland Islands.
The latest row over the islands comes as the UK prepares to mark the 30th anniversary of the Task Force sailing from Portsmouth to reclaim the islands after the Argentine invasion in 1982.
Prime Minister David Cameron’s accusation of Argentine ‘colonialism’ over the country’s claim to the Falkland Islands was met with condemnation in Buenos Aires.
Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said the claim was ‘totally offensive, especially coming from Great Britain.’
And Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman told the official Telam news agency: ‘Obviously at a time when there are only remnants of colonialism, Great Britain, in an imperial decline, decides to rewrite history.’
Argentina’s government has been ramping up its rhetoric over the territories in recent months as the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Falklands War approaches.
But, speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions in the Commons yesterday, Mr Cameron vowed to protect the islands’ population and allow them to decide their own future.
He added: ‘What the Argentinians have been saying recently, I would argue, is far more like colonialism because these people want to remain British and the Argentinians want them to do something else.’
The Prime Minister was speaking 24 hours after the National Security Council (NSC) held a meeting devoted entirely to the situation in the South Atlantic territories, which the Argentinians call Las Malvinas.
He called the summit so he could ‘make sure our defences and everything else is in order’ he told MPs.
Mr Cameron added: ‘It’s very important we commemorate the Falklands War in this year, the 30th anniversary, and we remember all those who served and who fought so hard and those who gave their lives and didn’t come home.
‘The absolutely vital point is that we are clear that the future of the Falkland Islands is a matter for the people themselves.
‘As long as they want to remain part of the United Kingdom and be British, they should be able to do so.’
Tory MP Andrew Rosindell branded Argentina’s actions ‘wholly deplorable’ and urged Mr Cameron to ‘remind Argentina they lost the Falklands War and that it’s up to the Falklanders to determine their own future.’
Speaking later, a source close to the PM said: ‘There has been quite a lot of rhetoric going on from Argentina and the Prime Minister is keen to show how important the protection of the Falklanders and their self-determination is to him.’
The source said yesterday’s NSC meeting sent ‘a strong signal’ to the Argentinians.
On December 21 last year, the Mercosur grouping of countries, which includes Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Paraguay, announced that it would ban ships sailing under the Falkland Islands flag from docking at their ports.
But earlier this month, HMS Protector, the Royal Navy’s ice patrol vessel currently on a scientific mission to the South Atlantic, called at Montevideo, Uruguay, en route to the Falklands.