Note handed to UK ambassador rejects name of large area of Antarctica long claimed by Argentina as its own
Argentina has presented a formal note of protest to the UK ambassador over the naming of a large area of Antarctica as Queen Elizabeth Land.
The note handed over by the foreign ministry to John Freeman in Buenos Aires criticised the UK’s “anachronistic imperialist ambitions that hark back to ancient practices”.
The newly named area has long been claimed by Argentina as its own, along with other contested areas in the south Atlantic including the Falkland Islands, which Argentina claims as Las Malvinas.
The note expressed Argentina’s “firmest rejection of the recently announced pretension of the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of naming an area of the Argentine Antarctic sector”.
The ministry accused London of infringing the spirit of the Antarctic treaty, signed in 1959 in Washington DC by 50 nations including Britain and Argentina to preserve the Antarctic from territorial disputes by guaranteeing freedom of scientific investigation and banning military activity on the continent.
Two days ago Argentina’s senate unanimously rejected the territory’s new name.
Other British-controlled territories over which Argentina claims sovereignty in the south Atlantic include the South Georgias and Sandwich islands. The island of King George is named 25 de Mayo on Argentinian maps, referring to the date of the revolution against Spain in 1810.
The practice of naming places by different names that correspond to the individual histories of signatory nations of the Antarctic treaty is common. A diplomatic source said: “The new placename could affect the already strained feelings between Britain and Argentina but it does not vulnerate the treaty.”