Royal Navy are pirates, says Argentina's president
The president of Argentina has described the Royal Navy as pirates and accused the British government of behaving like an imperial power with regard to the Falkland Islands.
Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner used Twitter, the micro-blogging website, to sharply criticise plans by the Ministry of Defence to carry out military tests in the region. In a series of frank postings on her official Twitter account, she announced that Argentina had complained to the United Nations about Britain's "militarisation of the South Atlantic".
"Serious, very serious," Mrs Kirchner wrote. "Royal Navy, occupying colonial force in Falkland Islands, reports military exercise with missiles on the coast of East Falkland.
"Typical nineteenth century colonialism. Anachronistic use of force in violation of international law. They do not care. A clear example of double standards."
Mrs Kirchner then promised to summon the British ambassador, Shan Morgan, and said: "Conclusion ... pirates for ever?"
Her postings were erased, but not before they had been re-posted by hundreds of other Twitter users, many of them Argentines who enthusiastically endorsed the remarks.
The Twitter posts threaten to increase tension between the two countries at a time when British companies are beginning to explore for oil and gas in the region. Last week, in what is thought to have been the first incident of its kind in four years, an Argentine military ship confronted a trawler from the Falklands and accused it of fishing illegally. The Argentine crew contacted the fishermen, who were several miles inside Falklands waters, and demanded their details. The boat, from Port Stanley, eventually moved away.
Britain informed Argentina last week that it planned to carry out missile tests, in what officials have insisted was standard procedure. An embassy spokesman told local reporters: "We are a little taken aback, because these exercises are routine and are carried out every six months. They've been happening for 28 years."
Mrs Kirchner has previously pledged an "eternal fight" to claim the Falklands Islands, which are known to Argentines as Las Malvinas. However she later ruled out the use of force to take the islands, which were briefly under the control of the then-ruling Argentine military junta in 1982. Britain sent a naval force and thousands of troops to reclaim the islands and there is a permanent British military presence on the islands, with 1,076 troops and four ships stationed in the region.
Recent tests indicated that there could be about 700m barrels worth of crude oil under the ocean around the Falklands, which could be worth about €3.4bn.
An official statement later released by Mrs Kirchner's office said: "The Argentine Government reiterates that the Malvinas, Georgias and South Sandwich Islands, part of the Argentine Republic and unlawfully occupied by the United Kingdom, are in dispute, which is recognised by the United Nations and other international organisations."