UNITED NATIONS – Argentina's president took her country's claim to the Falkland Islands to the United Nations on Thursday, challenging Britain in a highly emotional speech to "act more intelligently" and sit down to talk about the future of the tiny archipelago.
President Cristina Fernandez chose to appear at the annual meeting of the little-known U.N. Decolonization Committee on the 30th anniversary of Britain's ouster of an Argentine invasion force from the Falklands, using the occasion to reiterate Argentina's opposition to any more wars and to criticize the British prime minister's decision to mark the day by flying the Falklands flag over his official residence.
"I felt shame from far away because wars are not to be celebrated or commemorated," she said, pointing to the hundreds of deaths in the 74-day conflict over the islands, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas.
While accusing Britain of abusing its power as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, lying about the islands' history and acting as "a bully," Fernandez also said she came to the U.N. "without any rancor."
"We're not asking for much," she said. "We're just asking to talk. ... We're not asking anyone to say 'yes' the Malvinas are Argentina's."
Argentina claims Britain has illegally occupied the islands since 1833. Britain disputes Argentina's claim to the islands and says Argentina ignores the wishes of the island's 3,000 residents who have expressed a desire to remain British. Argentina maintains that the residents do not have the unilateral right to decide what they want the islands to be.
Falklands legislator Roger Edwards accused Argentina of seeking to take away the rights of the islanders and subject them to "colonialism."
"Today all that we ask for is the right to determine our own future without our own future without the bullying tactics of a neighboring country," he said.
Edwards said he was certain a referendum next year will show decisively that the Falkland Islanders want to maintain their links with Britain.