BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany on Friday rejected Argentine claims that a request by Lufthansa airline to fly over Argentina on its way to the Falkland Islands implied their recognition of Argentine territory.
Argentina and Britain have long debated ownership of the Falklands, with Argentina claiming sovereignty over the British-administered islands called the Malvinas. The dispute led to a brief war in 1982.
Lufthansa said it made a request for two flights to support a polar research expedition because the normal route through Cape Town had been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A German foreign ministry spokesman said the federal government’s position on the Falkland Islands had not changed.
“The activities of private companies cannot be associated with the Federal Republic of Germany and have no international consequences,” he said.
The Argentine government said Lufthansa requested permission for two flights that would take scientists and logistical support staff from Hamburg to Mount Pleasant in the Falklands, where they would continue aboard the “Polarstern” to Antarctica to conduct climate change research.
Argentina said the German government had also asked the research vessel Polarstern to dock in Port Stanley, the capital of the British territory.
The two 15-hour flights are scheduled for February 1 and March 30.
Argentina’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Lufthansa had asked its civil aviation authority and regional authorities to fly over Argentina and use the city of Ushuaia in Argentina’s Patagonia as an alternative airport if it was unable to land in the Falklands.
The Foreign Ministry said the German Embassy had also requested authorization from the Argentine Prefecture Navy for the Polarstern to enter “Puerto Argentino,” Argentina’s name for the Falklands capital, Port Stanley.
“The relevance of Lufthansa’s request submitted to the Argentine authorities is highlighted because it implies the recognition of the Malvinas Islands as part of Argentine territory,” the Foreign Ministry said.
In the past year, Argentina has renewed its efforts to reclaim the Falklands, appointed a Malvinas minister, saying it will redraw the map to emphasize its claim for use in schools and lobbying at the United Nations.
Reporting by Christian Kraemer; Edited by Angus MacSwan