The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak was criticized on Tuesday after delivering a Christmas speech with remarks about the Falkland Islands that reaffirmed what many in South America and Argentina are calling “British colonial policy.”

The Christmas speech delivered by Sunak made direct references to the Falkland Islands, a disputed territory off the coast of Argentina that both countries had gone into conflict with in 1982, which ended with the British decisively winning the territories, according to the Daily Express.

In the speech, Sunak referenced the Falklands’ right for “self-determination,” and the continued ability of those living in the islands, who are largely of British descent, to continue to be able to live under the British flag, whilst referencing the many British soldiers who fought to keep the Falklands within the U.K.’s purview, UK Daily News reported.

“We remembered those who lost their lives, we celebrated the moment when the Union Jack was raised at Government House once again, and we pledged our continued commitment to your self-determination,” he said.

Argentina continues to claim sovereignty for the islands, which is locally known as the Malvinas. Argentinian Secretary of the Malvinas, Antarctica and South Atlantic Guillermo Carmona has found himself criticizing the Christmas speech as “reaffirming the British colonial policy” and being used as a way to “misrepresent the national reality” of the conflicted islands.

He has also criticized a reference in Sunak’s speech regarding the “60 nationalities” that are living in the islands, calling a recent policy to limit voting “to those who have island status has shown what limiting civic participation to all non-Brits.”

Carmona also disputed the British claim of sovereignty on the islands due to claiming it in 1833, saying that this was achieved through the expulsion of “the Argentine authorities and residents” in the area using “military force.”

The Falkland conflict continues to resonate with Argentines in the country, with a recent song that was adopted by its citizens as the unofficial theme of their FIFA World Cup 2022 win containing references to the Argentinian soldiers who died during the Falkland conflicts in 1982, Merco Press reported.

Rishi Sunak
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak reacts as Britain's Prime Minister speaks during a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, in London, on June 7, 2022. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived on June 6 a vote of no confidence from his own Conservative MPs but with his position weakened after a sizeable number refused to back him. The Brexit figurehead called the 211-148 split a "convincing result, a decisive result". Photo by Leon Neal/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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