Argentina–United Kingdom relations

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British-Argentine relations
Map indicating locations of United Kingdom and Argentina

United Kingdom


Argentine–United Kingdom relations refers to foreign relations between Argentina and the United Kingdom. Both countries established diplomatic relations on December 15, 1823. Diplomatic relations were cut off before the Falklands War (1982) and they were reinstated in 1990 after the departure of Margaret Thatcher from the post of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Argentina has an embassy in London and the United Kingdom has an embassy in Buenos Aires. Relations were generally normal until mid-2010 when reports of exploration around the Falkland islands for oil reached the media. Since then and up through the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War, relations have been strained.


The modern territory of Argentina was initially part of the Spanish Empire. The Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute was initially a dispute of Spain and Britain, with events such as the Falklands Crisis of 1770. Spain allied with France against Britain during the Napoleonic Wars, so Britain launched the British invasions of the Río de la Plata. The first British attack invaded Buenos Aires, the city was liberated by Santiago de Liniers with forces from Montevideo. A second attack invaded Montevideo, but failed to invade Buenos Aires a second time, and Montevideo was returned to Spain during the surrender. France attacked Spain (starting the Peninsular War in Europe) and Spain allied with Britain, so the British made no further attacks at the Río de la Plata.

The Peninsular War, the social changes caused by the huge militarization of the people of Buenos Aires and other local and international influences led to the May Revolution, which began the Argentine War of Independence. Britain stayed neutral during the conflict, and accepted the Argentine Declaration of Independence on December 15, 1823. The formal relations were established with the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Between Argentina and the United Kingdom.

Falklands War[edit]

Main article: Falklands War
The cover of Newsweek magazine, 19 April 1982, depicts HMS Hermes, flagship of the British Task Force.

On April 2, 1982, Argentina under President Leopoldo Galtieri launched an invasion of the Falkland Islands and on April 3, 1982 this was followed by the Argentine invasion of the South Georgia Island.[1] This resulted in the British deploying forces to the Falkland Islands hence causing the Falklands War.

Today, despite the British victory in the Falklands War, Argentina still claims the Falkland Islands.

Since 2010[edit]

South America has generally shown support for Argentina since 2010. This is in contrast to the Falklands War when Britain was supported by Chile.

The Unasur group of nations has asked the United Kingdom to pursue negotiations over the islands' sovereignty.[2] On 19 March 2012, Peru announced that it was cancelling a visit by the Royal Navy frigate HMS "Montrose" in support of Argentina's legitimate right to the islands.[2]

Direct confrontation between Prime Minister Cameron and President Fernández[edit]

Cristina F. de Kirchner with David Cameron at the 2010 G20 summit

At the G20 Summit in Mexico in June 2012, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner met unexpectedly in a corridor on the fringes of the G20 Summit and exchanged, at least in diplomatic terms, some rather heated words. Prime Minister Cameron told President Kirchner that she should "respect the views" of Falkland residents, who had announced a referendum, to be held in 2013, on the issue of future sovereignty of the island. President Kirchner then attempted to hand an envelope to the Prime Minister but he refused to accept it.[3]

Héctor Timerman, the Argentine Foreign Minister said that "Nation states have the obligation to talk. We prepared an envelope containing various papers, but the British Prime Minister refused to receive it. Britain continues to refuse to talk. And what surprised me most was that David Cameron did not go to the UN decolonization meeting on Thursday.[3][4] ...But Cameron told her he wouldn't discuss sovereignty," Timerman said. Foreign Minister Timerman confirmed that the envelope contained various UN resolutions that call for Britain and Argentina to discuss the future of the islands, and also said the two heads of government had opened their encounter with a brief exchange of words on economic issues, before turning to the Falklands.

Kirchner headed an Argentine delegation at a meeting at the UN[when?] of the UN's Decolonization Committee, the first head of state ever to address this relatively low-level committee. During this meeting members of the islands' legislative assembly were prevented from handing over a letter in which they asked Argentina to stop "harassing" them.[5] Timerman said the islanders were simply looking for a "photo opportunity". The envelope contained 40 resolutions, according to Timerman. "It wasn't the time or place," Timerman said. "Last week at the UN was the moment to discuss the Malvinas [Argentina's name for the islands], but Cameron wasn't there." [4] Cameron said Argentina should "listen to what the islanders want" during a press conference at the summit. He criticized Argentina for its protectionist economic policy and its recent expropriation of oil company YPF from Repsol, the Spanish energy giant. The exchange ended when Kirchner insisted Britain respect the UN, and Cameron walked away.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]