Falklands land grab: UK sent warning as South American states rally around Argentina
Mercosur, or the Southern Common Market, is a South American trade bloc that has reiterated the claim made by the Argentines. The trade bloc has called on the UK to give back the Malvinas Islands, which they claim is "a territory usurped by the United Kingdom since 1833". In contrast, the British claim to sovereignty dates from 1690.
The group of countries has declared their support for what Argentina calls the Malvinas Declaration.
The wording of the Malvinas Islands Declaration reiterates, "the legitimate rights of Argentina in the sovereignty dispute referred to the Malvinas Islands Question”.
At the 56th Heads of State summit organised by Mercosur at the beginning of July a declaration of support for Argentina's claim to the Falklands was drafted.
This declaration was backed by the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, plus Mercosur associate members, Bolivia, Chile, and Colombia.
Argentina has also said it would seek a UN resolution over the sovereignty dispute.
A statement made by the secretary of Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic of the Argentine Foreign Ministry said: "The adoption of unilateral measures is not compatible with what was agreed in the United Nations' and Mercosur recalled the regional interest in the long-running sovereignty dispute reaching a solution in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and the declarations of the Organisation of American States and other regional and multilateral forums."
Argentina disputes the current unilateral framework were the UK is solely responsible for deciding upon the sovereignty of the islands.
The UK Government's stance is that they support the people of the Falkland Islands as they determine their own political and economic future.
Although France was the first country to establish a permanent settlement in the Falkland Islands in 1764, the majority of contemporary islanders prefer to remain part of the UK.
However, the new declaration made by the Mercosur countries underlines that the “implementation of unilateral measures is not compatible with what agreed in the UN Assembly”.
Mercosur argues that the sovereignty dispute should be decided by the United Nations.
Argentina's claim is not only over the Falklands but also over South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.
South Georgia is synonymous with Irish polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who is buried on the island.
The Mercosur group stated: "The regional interest that the prolonged sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom referred to the Malvinas, South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands, and the adjoining maritime spaces, achieve as soon as possible a solution in conformity with the resolutions from the UN, Organisation of American States, Mercosur, and other regional and multilateral fora”.
The UK still maintains a permanent military presence in the South Atlantic region.
The main British military facility is on East Falkland.
The Falkland Islands also contain RAF Mount Pleasant and the Mare Harbour naval base